A young girl describes what it’s like when her mom’s new friend comes to stay — a moving story about domestic violence that ends on a hopeful note.
The young girl tells us that her mom’s new friend is just like the big bad wolf. At first the wolf is sweet and kind to her mom, though the girl notices the wolf’s cold eyes from the very beginning. When her mom arrives home late one day, the wolf suddenly hurls angry words and terrible names at her. From that day on her mother doesn’t smile anymore. The girl is careful to clean her room and brush her teeth and do everything to keep the peace, but the wolf is unpredictable, throwing plates on the floor, yelling at her mother and holding the girl’s arm so tightly she is left with bruises. Whenever the yelling begins, she hides under the covers in her room.
How will she and her mom cope as the wolf becomes increasingly fierce?
Valérie Fontaine and Nathalie Dion have created a powerful, moving story about violence in the home that ends on a note of hope.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.
Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
This piercing account of the pain that results when adults harm those around them shows an abuser entering a child's life as a parent's partner. The titular fairy tale metaphor delivers a clear note of threat: "He didn't need to huff, or puff/ or blow the house down.../ The big bad wolf just walked in the door." In simple, grainy spreads of a white child with straight brown hair and a pink barrette, Dion (The Biggest Puddle in the World) delivers the story's message with restraint, showing the results of violence rather than the acts themselves. A broken plate lies on the floor, its food scattered; the child looks at blue finger marks on their arm ("I had to cover them up with long sleeves, even when it was hot out") and lines their shoes up in a perfect line ("I made myself as quiet as a lamb"). At last, mother and child escape to a shelter, where the protagonist instantly feels safe. The first-person telling's candid descriptions of powerlessness, its emotional ramifications, and the prospect of escape all give language to an experience of abuse and let readers in similar circumstances know that they are not alone. Ages 4 8.