‘The what?’ Cassy snorted and put the drawing down on the floor again. ‘That’s just nonsense. Wolves are wolves, and people are people.’Gillian Cross’ Carnegie Medal winning Wolf is not exactly a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” – it’s rather a story that incorporates and subverts some of the fairy tale’s main elements. And it does this in a very original way. Thirteen-year-old Cassy lives in London with her grandmother. Because Nan isn’t feeling very well, she sends Cassy to stay with her mother for some time. But Cassy can put two and two together, and she realizes that she’s always sent away after a stranger’s late-night visits to her grandmother’s flat .
‘It’s not quite as simple as that.’ Robert looked earnest and pompous, as if he were giving a lecture. ‘The way we think about wolves is twisted up with the way we think about ourselves. We’d been linked for thousands of years. Perhaps for millions.’
Cassy’s mother, Goldie, lives with her partner and his son Robert. They run a company called Moongazer that puts together school plays, and the one they’re currently working on is about wolves: both the real animals and the mythical beasts. With Robert’s help, Cassy tries to find out the real reason why she was sent away by her Nan, as well as the identity of the real wolf at the door.
I loved Wolf: it's so smart and surprising. I’m not exactly sure what I expected when I picked it up, but what I got was something entirely different. This is a story about people, much more so than it is about wolves; about our potential for violence and kindness; about courage, resourcefulness, desperation and fear; about the things we believe in and the things we do.
But the wolves, of course, are still very much there. I love the fact that Wolf deconstructs the image we have of them without romanticizing them either. They’re neither monsters nor noble beasts: they’re animals, and the way we have chosen to perceive them says a lot more about us than it does about them. I also appreciate the fact that, without ever beating readers over the head with it, the book very much has an environmentalist slant.
One more bit I liked:
‘What is this thing you’ve got about real life?’ Robert said quietly. ‘Real life and real people? That doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a way of making walls, to shut out what’s uncomfortable. And it doesn’t work, you know. If things are there, you have to admit it in the end.’Other Opinions:
Words by Annie
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