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Thursday, October 19, 2017

the Wolf the Duck & the Mouse, written by Max Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2017. $22.99 ages 5 and up

"The meal was delicious.

"Where did you get the jam?"
the mouse asked.
"And a tablecloth?"
The duck munched a crust.
"You'd be surprised what
you find inside of a wolf."
"It's nice," said the mouse.
"It's home," said the duck.
"You live here?"
"I live well! I may have
been swallowed, but I have
no intention of being eaten."

Poor little mouse! What injustice it is to be swallowed whole by a wolf. The wolf is only doing what is natural to him, while the mouse is not happy to be looking death in the face. Wait! What is that voice he hears?

And so begins another wild and wondrous tale by two of my favorite creators. Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have a way of sharing with great joy and panache their humor, their love of story and their exceptional talents. It is not always the way that book collaboration works. For them (and for their fans), it works beautifully every single time.

Turns out a duck is making its home in the wolf's stomach; and is very happy with the path his life has taken. In fact, he has been sleeping. When the mouse makes its entrance, they share a meal and a conversation about the great happiness the duck now feels. His life before was filled with the fear of being eaten.  The mouse is fascinated by the duck's stand on his new home.

The wolf is not so comfortable, definitely feeling the weight of his inhabitants luxurious lifestyle in his belly. Ill and vulnerable, he is perfect fare for an intrepid marksman. When that hunter threatens the tranquility, the two insiders must decide how to keep the status quo. That decision garners gratitude from their host; he promises that their wish is his command. Ha! Who knew?

Obviously, there is great fun in the storytelling. Jon Klassen (as he always seems to do) is adept at the details that will bring readers back again and again to read it, to notice even more, to want to discuss it, and to laugh each and every time it is shared. Funny, full of charm, and sporting a perfect ending, you want it for your collection. I will surely find a place for it on our 'keepers' shelf.

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