Good Wolves, preventing child deaths and a giveaway

posted in: Nadia Shireen | 5
Photo: Fremlin

Even though it’s a new moon, rather than a full moon, this week we’ve been surrounded by wolves at home.

First, whilst M was poorly last week we read Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf by Catherine Storr, having been inspired to do so by this review, and for the last few days we’ve been enjoying Good Little Wolf, the debut picture book by British author and illustrator Nadia Shireen, which is officially published today!

The first day I produced Good Little Wolf at story time M immediately looked puzzled; “But wolves are always bad!” Without realising it she had hit the nail on the head.

This clever little book is all about confounding expectations, discovering who you really are and being true to yourself – an amazing amount to fit into a short picture book, but done deftly and with good dose of humour too.

Rolf, a good little wolf who likes baking cakes, eats all his vegetables and is always nice to his friends, is taunted by Big Bad Wolf. Rolf surely can’t be a proper wolf; although he smells and looks like one, he’s not very good at howling at the moon or blowing houses down.

Rolf nevertheless knows he is a wolf, even if not a sterotypical, storybook cut-out version of one. In the end, without giving in to pressure to gobble a granny, he manages not only to prove his lupine credentials but also to sit down for tea and cake with Big Bad Wolf (although surprises continue to the very last page of the book).

Shireen’s illustrations are comical and dramatic. The page turn which introduces Big Bad Wolf to Rolf is exquisite, terrifying and (as the fear recedes) giggle-inducing.

Good Little Wolf has been an instant hit in this home. M, at 6, loves the references to fairy tale wolves and how everything she thought she knew about wolves is turned (almost) on its head, whilst J, at 3, loves the funny pictures and the fearful thrill both mitigated and doubled by the relief that comes from laughing out loud. And me, (at 37)? Well I love this little story about finding out for yourself (with just a little bit of supportive encouragement) who you are, what you enjoy and what you’re good at.

I wonder what it must feel like to see your first book come to life, to appear on bookshelves in libraries, bookshops and homes. I’ll certainly be asking Nadia about this, as in a few posts’ time I’ll be interviewing Nadia about her work. If you’ve any questions you’d like to put to Nadia, please leave them in the comments.

In honour of Rolf and his love of cakes and tea we decided to have a tea party with a wolf-ish theme.

Our list of essential items for a children’s tea party:

  • A kiddie sized table. If you haven’t got one, you can use a stool, an upturned cardboard box or even a pile of large hardback books.

  • A beautiful table cloth. M and J are particularly fond of a shawl from their dressing up box as their tea party tablecloth. If you don’t have something serviceable (after all, how many of us use table cloths nowadays?) visit your local charity shop; shawls, pillow cases, duvet covers, or even a net curtain can all stand in as a table cloth.

  • A vase with some flowers. This can be something as simple as a drinking glass with a bunch of dandelions.

  • A cake stand. If you don’t have one, get three pretty china plates and two tumblers from a charity shop, glue them together with some superglue and ta-da! You have one pretty cake stand.

  • Doilies. Wilkos or the Pound Shop are a good source for these, and they’re great to have in a crafty supply box for other projects too.

  • Pretty china – some small plates and cups. Look out at car boot sales or junk shops for a set of cups, saucers and side plates. It doesn’t matter if they’re all different – the eclectic look works well at a teaparty!

  • Wickedly delicious treats to nibble on. Tea parties in our home are not about being sensible, they’re all about treats. We did wolf treats 3-ways; Howling-at-the-moon cake, wolf cub-cakes (groan) and wolf print biscuits.

  • This is just a regular chocolate cake. I put a cut-out wolf head on the top and M covered the cake with icing sugar. When I removed the wolf head, M filled in the silhouette with Flake chocolate to look like wolf fur.

    Making these wolf cubcakes took me way out of my comfort zone, definitely not my normal sort of baking! I used this video as inspiration.

    For the paw prints we dipped some biscuits in melted chocolate and then pressed in white chocolate buttons, adapting an idea I originally found here.

    And here we are celebrating the publication of Nadia’s first book, raising her a cup of tea and eating plenty of cake by way of celebration!

    Whilst chatting and eating at our tea party we listened to:

  • To Have A Tea Party by The Wiggles
  • Tea Party by Frances England
  • Tea for Two – there are lots of versions but we listened and danced to the one by Benny Goodman

  • Now as it happens this very evening (Thursday 2nd June) there is going to be a twitter party all about children’s tea parties. But this is no ordinary twitter party. It’s a twitter party with the potential to make a difference and save a child’s life.

    Maggy at Red Ted Art is hosting tonight’s party to highlight the work of Save the Children, and in particular their campaign No Child Born to Die.

    To take part in the party turn up on Twitter at 8pm GMT (which I think is 3pm New York, or 12 midday San Francisco) and post tips for great children’s tea parties using the #passiton hashtag. The idea is to have fun, get some great tips, and in the process raise the profile of the No Child Born to Die campaign.

    Several prizes will be up for grabs to random participants in the twitter party, including a copy of Nadia Shireen’s Good Little Wolf (not all prizes are available internationally, but the copy of Good Little Wolf is).

    If you can’t make the party, please do read about the campaign and consider signing this petition.

    Disclosure: Good Little Wolf was provided to me gratis by the publisher. This review, however, reflects my own and honest opinion.

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    5 Responses

    1. I’ll be there!
      Julia Skinner recently posted..Day 2 Maputo -Pass It On Combo

    2. I am just a little bit in love with those paw prints! And HOORAY for the giveaway tonight. Excellent! The book sounds truly lovely!

      Maggy x

    3. Wow wow! Another fabulous post Zoe! I admire the way you are able to provide this comprehensive whole-feel approach to your books: the reading experience of the kids, the tea parties, the questions they ask – it’s like reading your wolf and eating it too! How lovely! We’ve done this wolf-theme in one of our themes in GatheringBooks where we kind of explored how wolves are often perceived as big and bad and all that – I think we may have done a review of Lon Po Po as well as the true story of the three little pigs – and quite a few other wolf stories, that like you said *turned the story over on its head* – that is what really fascinates me. I’m glad you introduced us to this book. We would be having a fractured fairy tale theme this July/August, so we’d definitely add this to our list of books to feature (if I do find this here in our community libraries in Singapore)

    4. I’d love to win a copy of this book, esp. since it doesn’t come out in the U.S. til the fall. You made it sound so enticing!
      Even in Australia recently posted..Paying it Forward

    5. […] plate stand is fabulous. I spotted it a few month’s ago, when she Zoe did a wonderful post on wolves and tea parties and I *knew* she would have to make another as a guest post for you! It is thrifty. It is upcycled. […]

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