Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco
September 12, 2008 in Picture Book, Rocco, John Tags: Aesop's fables, compare and contrast, illustrations, John Rocco, morals, The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, Venn Diagram, Wolf! Wolf!, writing activities
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture Book for PreK-3rd (although kids of any age will enjoy this book!)
Delightful old wolf as the main character
Rating: One of the best retellings of a fable I’ve ever read.
Short, short summary: If you’ve read Aesop’s fable about the little boy who cried wolf, you will be familiar with the premise of John Rocco’s Wolf! Wolf!. Rocco’s story is delightfully fresh with amazing illustrations, down to the ladybugs and ants in the wolf’s garden. I love this book! (Can you tell?) In this retelling, the wolf is old and feeble and growing a garden full of vegetables because he is too slow to hunt. He continues to hear this annoying little boy call, “Wolf! Wolf!”, and so, he goes to check it out, hiding from the boy’s sight. He watches the boy, the goats, and all the angry villagers, who are tired of climbing up a hill when there is no wolf. He decides he would love to eat one of those goats, but he will have to trick the boy to get one because he is too old and slow to just take one. When the wolf shows himself to the boy, the boy cries, “Wolf! Wolf!,” but of course, the villagers do not come. The wolf explains to the boy how to gain back the villagers’ trust, and the story continues from there to a surprising twist at the end. Let’s just say, this is a kind and thoughtful wolf, who has a taste for veggies!
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Anytime you have a book that is a retelling of a fable or fairy tale, you can do a compare/contrast activity. I like to use a Venn diagram (the two circles that overlap) to start the process. Once your students find the similarities and differences between Wolf! Wolf! and another version of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, using a graphic organizer, they can write a paragraph to explain their ideas. If you have older elementary students, they can each make their own Venn diagram and write a paragraph or even a three-paragraph essay. If you have younger students, you can do these exercises together and model how to write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the two stories.
2. Fables teach lessons, and this one teaches a valuable lesson about telling the truth and even friendship. Instead of telling your students or your child what the lesson is, explain to them that many fables have a moral (teach a lesson), and you would like them to tell you what they think the lesson is of Wolf! Wolf!. Write down their ideas on chart paper. If your students or your child are having trouble figuring out the moral of the story, give them a few clues, such as, “Why didn’t the villagers come when there really was a wolf?” or “What did the last line of the book mean?” If you want to take this further with older elementary students, you can ask them to write their own fables to share with the class.
3. The art in this book is fantastic and should be the focus of an activity, especially if your child is a budding artist or your students love to draw! Study John Rocco’s pictures, and ask students to make a list of the details they notice in his pictures. Also, you can point out that the setting of the story is not mentioned in the text, but you know this story takes place in the past in China because of the details Rocco adds to his pictures. Ask students to set the story some place else with only an illustration. First, students decide on the setting such as New York City, Egypt, or your hometown. Then they draw an illustration of the wolf, the boy, and the goats, and they put in details that will give hints to the setting. When the illustrations are finished, the students share their drawings with the class, and their classmates try to guess where they set the story by the details that students drew in their illustrations. This activity may take some researching time if students pick a place for their setting that they are unfamiliar with.
If you have used this book in your classroom and you have some activities to share, please leave a comment here.
If you have suggestions of a book for me to read and review, please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment here.