Wolfman by Michael Rosen & Chris Mould: Those we demonise are human underneath

posted in: Chris Mould, Michael Rosen | 5

Wolfman is terrifying!

Wolfman is threatening!

Wolfman is unstoppably destructive!

And he’s coming your way!

wolfman-picturebook-03But let me reassure you: Wolfman by Michael Rosen and Chris Mould is also so funny, you might just wet your pants ๐Ÿ˜€

On one level a moral about how those we demonise are human underneath, this wickedly enjoyable book about what can turn us into monsters is an enormously enjoyable book to read aloud. It’s thrilling and frightening, secretly appealing to many kids’ desires to wreck havoc and run wild, whilst (without revealing the brilliant final twist of the tale) drawing on a situation just about every child can identify with (one of Michael Rosen’s especially honed skills).

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Chris Mould’s illustrations, with a limited and unusual palette, are sublime. Scary and scared eyes pop out everywhere and the scratchiness of the drawings befits Wolfman to a T.

Rosen’s story was first published 16 years ago and I haven’t been able to track down a copy to see if it was illustrated then, but Mould’s illustrations exude the vigour and excitement of the story in such a way as makes the text and these images seem inseparable. In fact, the penultimate page of this edition is one of my favourite illustrated spreads of the year; its drama and framing guarantees reader and listener will be holding their breath and scared to turn the page at that precise moment. (You’ll simply have to read the book yourself to see what I mean – it’s far to much fun to give the game away here!)

bookplateAttention to detail in the production of this book is another of its delights. From the name plate which encourages reading as a shared experience, to the die-cut “rips” in the front cover this is yet another great book (designed in such a way to support parents with dyslexia) from Red Squirrel.

Hair-raising and horribly fun, Wolfman is a riotously funny read, bound to be requested time and time again.

Once we’d stopped giggling and got our breath back J decided to make herself a Wolfman mask using a paper plate and some wool.

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I cut out two small eye holes in the plate and drew the outline of large eyes. J then painted the plate with a mixture of poster paint and glue.

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Having mixed in the glue with the paint, it was very easy for J to stick on lengths of wool all around the edge of the plate, as well as adding two ears cut from a brown paper bag.

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J scrunched up the rest of the paper bag for the nose, added a few white paper squares as teeth and taped a bamboo pole on the back to hold the mask up to her face.

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Then all that was left was to rush around the garden terrorising everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

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Whilst J made her mask we listened to:

  • Smokestack Lightning by Howlin’ Wolf
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Here’s the Disney version:
  • Raised By Wolves by Barney Saltzberg (you can hear a sample on his Crazy Hair Day album here)
  • There’s also Radiohead’s A Wolf at the Door with an interesting Red Riding hood themed video, but perhaps neither the music nor the video are so young-kid friendly.


  • Other activities which would go well alongside reading Wolfman include:

  • Playing “What’s the Time Mr Wolf?”, a golden oldie, but with the same deliciously fearful anticipation as Wolfman.
  • Talking about the things that make us mad or irritable. I know I turn into something like Wolfman when I get really hungry!
  • Using a pair of toy glasses to give yourselves eyes just like the characters in Wolfman – find some with a black rim, and then cover the lenses with white paper with tiny holes cut out for looking through. The back of these toy glasses (found here) gave me the idea:
    toyglasses

  • What makes you grizzly? What naughty-but-nice picture books have you read recently?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Wolfman from the publisher.

    5 Responses

    1. SIMONE FRASER

      Brilliant, as ever! What prodigious kids! I am always inspired to work by what they make and play at.
      I’m looking forward to seeing this book, thanks for the introduction, Zoe.

      Simone.

    2. This looks totally fab. AND Talk about the best Wolfman Mask ever!!!!
      se7en recently posted..Saturday Spot: A Muizenberg Meander…

    3. Thanks Se7en! Watch out for the Wolfman – I’m sure he’s headed your way too ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Zoe recently posted..Wolfman by Michael Rosen & Chris Mould: Those we demonise are human underneath

    4. What an excellent scary mask to go with Wolfman!!!! Thanks for sharing!
      Rhythm recently posted..School Days, School Days

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