Who’s afraid of the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf? A rabbit with a piece of chalk and some not-too-shabby drawing skills, that’s who.
An unseen narrator, whose perspective the reader seems to take judging by the enormous coffee cup at the edge of the desk, asks the rabbit across the desk if he’s heard of the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf. In answer, Rabbit goes to the blackboard and draws the quintessential Big Bad Wolf. As the narrator describes the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf, Rabbit rubs out and redraws until the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf is revealed… and then the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf gives chase.
Through facial expression, perspective and clever touches, the illustrations complement the suspenseful text. I wondered for a moment if the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf could be a homage to Max in his wolf suit; the perspective, too, reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are.
Readers take the narrator’s perspective from the first page, where the coffee mug is bigger and close at hand while little Rabbit peers over the desk. Readers aren’t afraid of the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf; they’re talking to Rabbit, shouting for him to run and hide. The reader takes the narrator’s role of teacher, playing adult and telling Rabbit what to do. So does Max. Instead of his mother telling him what to do, he tells the Wild Things what to do–when to start and stop the rumpus. Readers of Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf are also in control.
Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf would make a great read-aloud–especially if a kid does the reading.
Reviewed upon observing that today would be Maurice Sendak’s 85th birthday.