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My daughter chose this book originally as she loves Charlie and Lola and recognised the illustrator (the pictures have similar character illustrations). This story is more suitable for slightly older children that Charlie and Lola, as it has more text on each page, and a more complex story. I would say it is best for about 4-7 years in my experience, either as a book to read to your child or for them to progress to read themselves at the older end of that scale.
The story is simple - a boy called Herb enters the world of his storybooks, with characters such as wolves and fairy godmothers. The narrative stye is what makes it great for me - my kids love the witty, cool writing style of these more mature Lauren Child books. The story is very modern in style, but obviously contains elements and references of traditional fairytales, which works really well.
The pictures are great - they are more complex than the Charlie and Lola ones, with more going on on each page, but very appealing for both boys and girls, and the wolves particularly appeal to my son, as they are quite comically hairy and cunning!
The text is a little tricky to read sometimes for kids, as it is in a non-simple font, so it is best for confident readers or to read to your child as a bedtime story.
Overall, my family love this book and I would highly recommend it as a modern day, cool, fairytale themed picture book with quality story and illustrations.
~~~ Beware of the Storybook Wolves ~~~
I think most parents are aware of the author Lauren Child nowadays, and if they don't know her, they will be familiar with her two most famous characters, Charlie and Lola. Charlie and Lola are for younger children, say from the ages of two or three and upwards, but Lauren also writes for older children. 'Beware of the Storybook Wolves' is aimed at a slightly older age group, from about five upwards in my opinion.
~~~ The Story ~~~
The story begins with a little boy called Herb, being read a bedtime story by his mother. It goes along the lines of Little Red Riding Hood, a recognisable story to every child,
"Sometimes it was about a big wolf that terrified little girls and their grandmothers with his chilling growl and his big yellow teeth. You could tell from the picture that toothpaste had never been on his shopping list."
The story is cut short at this point, to focus on the actual telling of the tale, rather than the book that is being read to little Herb. This is Herb's favourite bedtime story, but to his mother's confusion, he always insists that she take the book downstairs when she's finished reading. One evening, his mother forgets, and as soon as it gets dark, he feels eyes staring at him, and stinky wolf breath.
The story then continues, but I won't tell you what happens as it will spoil the story for you. Needless to say, poor little Herb has some helpers from other storybooks to rescue him from the wolves, with some funny goings on along the way. The book concludes, and everything is well and as it should be - apart from when Mum reads him the story the next time. You'll have to read it, and find out what happens yourself.
~~~ The Illustrations and Text ~~~
Lauren Child is also the Illustrator of this book, and her work is instantly recognisable by its very simplistic figures, and also lots of use of vibrant colours and textures. The page itself isn't textured, but you can see the patterns and weaves of fabrics on such things as dresses and lampshades, and colourful feathers on the wicked fairy (another character in the book). The whole effect is a little riotous, but is great for a kid's book.
The writing is all in a fancy font and varies in size throughout the book, as with the Charlie and Lola books. This makes it nicer to look at visually, and more fun to read out loud, but it the text is far too curly and swirly for a young reader to read by themselves. This is a rather a let down, and an oversight by Ms Child I feel, especially as the book is directed towards this age range of five to seven year olds.
~~~ My Thoughts ~~~
I initially purchased this book in a collection of Lauren Child's books, when my daughter was about five. There were about five Charlie and Lola books, and five of what I would deem to be more advanced books, and this was one of them. Even though it's aimed at a slightly older child to Charlie and Lola, it still feels and is read as though it is a child's thoughts and words. The book has such innocence to it.
The story is quite captivating. There are other nursery stories interwoven in the tale, and they don't just feel an individual story, the beautiful writing style cleverly mingles their tales, and makes for an enjoyable read, for both adult and child, whether you are just listening or reading.
I like the way that some of the text is in bolder and highlighted to tell the reader to put more oomph and emphasis on those words. Not that you wouldn't anyway, it's such a good story for adding accents and expression into; but it all helps create an atmosphere.
Although this book could be classed as unisex, I do feel that despite the fairies and the Cinderella inclusions in the book, that this book is ever so slightly more aimed at boys. They certainly would appreciate the (slight) scariness of the story more, and the wolf theme, that runs throughout.
~~~ In Summary ~~~
My daughter has enjoyed this book regularly throughout the years we've owned it, but as an eight year old now, sadly it's time to pass it on. This has been a wonderful story to enjoy both during the day, and of an evening. It's the perfect length for just before bed, not too short but not too long (32 pages), but I would read it beforehand if you have a sensitive child who might not appreciate the (slightly) scary nature of this book before they go to sleep.
Today (Jan 2012) this book is available to purchase for £4.25 plus free delivery from Amazon. I do feel this is a very good price considering it's R.R.P. of £5.99.
A few months ago I was placing an order from the book people and I spotted a book called beware of storybook wolves. It grabbed my attention immediately as the cover looked bright and interesting. What also stood out to me was that the book was by Lauren Child, the author of the Charlie and Lola books which I love but sadly my son doesn't!
The book I purchased from the book people was the hardback edition which was first published by Hodder children's books in 2006. It has a RRP of £12.99 but it cost me £3.99 from the book people and from looking online it would seem it is hard to come by the hard cover version but you can pick up the paperback version for £5.38 with free postage and packaging.
Beware of the story book wolves is a pop up book about a little boy called Herb. Every night his mother reads him a bedtime story and sometimes it would be about a wolf who would be terrorising little girls! Despite the fact that this book is one of Herbs favourites he likes his mother to take the book from his room when she has finished but one night she forgets and the story book comes to life leaving Herb with wolves in his bedroom! The story continues as we see other fairy tale classic characters such as a princess, wicked fairy and a fairy godmother. Of course the book has a happy ending as all classic fairytales have!
The main stand out feature about this book for me and my son was just how wonderful the pop up elements of the book really are. They literally jump out at you and there are various things to lift or pull on most pages which obviously makes the book very interactive and fun for a young child. I would say that you will need to take care with some of the smaller interactive parts of the book so that they don't become damaged so in my opinion this is a book best shared with your child rather than read alone unless you know they will be relatively gentle with the book.
The illustrations in the book are fabulous but I do love the style of Lauren Child's characters as you already know with my love of Charlie and Lola. The illustrations are well drawn, bright, colourful and there is so much to look at on each page-even little Herb has a book of his own whilst he is sat in bed and you can turn the pages on his book too!
The story in the book is fun and filled with suspense for a child as you wait with anticipation to see if the wolves have indeed gone into Herb's bedroom and if the will eat him up or if the wicked fairy will spoil the day! There are a lot of words in this book and so I think it would be a bit much to expect my five year old to read this on his own but he did like joining in with some of the text.
My son really enjoyed this book, particularly because it was so interactive with lots to do and look at on each page for him. The fact that there was so much to do really kept his attention for the full book and continues to do so on each subsequent reading. I would say this is a brilliant book for children around the 4-7 aged range as a bedtime story!
Thank you for reading my review!
Most parents will be aware of Lauren Child these days, or at the least the characters, Charlie and Lola, that she has made household names with our children. She has also written and illustrated many other storybooks too and this is one of those.
The story begins with a little boy called Herb, being read a bedtime story by his mother.
"Sometimes it was about a big wolf who terrified little girls and their grandmothers with his chilling grown and his big yellow teeth. You could tell from the picture that toothpaste had never been on his shopping list."
This is Herb's favourite story and he loves the picture on the back of the book with a wolf that has an eye patch. Herb insists that his mother take the book downstairs every night because he is scared of the storybook wolves but one night she forgets and the story continues with the appearance of the storybook wolves turning up in Herb's bedroom.
This is very scary for him as they decide that they would like to eat him up and Herb comes up with a cunning plan by telling him that they need to eat starters first, as little boys are best kept for pudding.
He goes to find them a jelly from another book but a wicked fairy escapes at the same time and tells the wolves that they have been tricked by Herb. Herb then quickly shakes out another book with a Fairy Godmother in it and convinces her to turn the wolves into caterpillars.
Feeling safe again he goes back to bed but makes sure the books are closed tightly by setting his bed on top of them. The book ends with,
"The funny thing was, the next time Herb's mother came to read the wolf story, there was no wolf to be seen - just a tiny caterpillar trying with all his might to terrify a little girl in a red coat."
These are of the same style as Charlie and Lola with the drawings being made up of a mixture of collages and cute little drawings. The writing is all in a fancy font and varies in size throughout the book. This makes it a lot of fun to read to a child but isn't so good for young readers trying to read it for themselves.
My son actually thought that this was a Charlie and Lola book when he picked it up in the library. It was only when we got home and started reading it that we realised that it was a completely different character. This didn't put him off though, especially as the story and illustrations and very much distinguishable as by the same author.
What I love about Lauren Child books is that they are written in a very easy language for young children and very much from a child's point of view. It really does sound as though it is a child's thoughts and words.
The story in ingenious and delightful and I have to say I think I enjoyed reading it to my son as much, if not more, than he enjoyed listening to it. The fantasy that things can come to life at night is not a new one in our house as my son is convinced his toys all have fun while he is asleep or out of the house anyway. Luckily he doesn't have many scary books in his room so this one hasn't given him any nightmares and he thinks that it is hilarious that the big bad wolf ends up being a caterpillar.
His other favourite bit is when the smaller wolf gets accidentally turned into a princess like Cinderella and goes off to the ball to dance with the Prince. He thinks the wolf looks very funny dressed in a ball gown and laughs at him every time he looks at this book.
Lauren Child has a knack of making her books suitable for both boys and girls and this is something I really admire as there are bits in there to keep everyone happy. Often a lot of books seem to be aimed more at one sex or the other but she seems to know what to do to get over this hurdle.
The illustrations are great in her books and the use of different fabrics or textures to make up the main pictures and the backgrounds helps keep them interesting for everyone. I love the way that the main drawings have been cut out and stuck on the background as this gives the story a real 3d effect and they almost look as though they could be lifted off the page and rearranged at will.
I'm sure Lauren Child will be delighting children with her stories for many years to come and I will certainly enjoy reading them too.
***Other Lauren Child Books***
Charlie & Lola series
Clarice Bean series
Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Book
I Want A Pet
That Pesky Rat
Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent
***Price & Availability***
The paperback is priced at £5.99 but is available from Tesco for only £4.49.
ISBN No. 0340779160
Every night Herb's mother would read him a bedtime story. Sometimes it was about a big wolf who terrified little girls and their grandmothers with his chilling growl and his big yellow teeth. You could tell from the picture that toothpaste had never been on his shopping list. The story got very nasty in the middle and everybody nearly came to a sticky end but by the last page it had all turned out well and went happy-ever-afterly. But when the story ends, Herb insists that his mum takes the book away with her just in case the wolf jumps out of the book to get him. His mother thinks he's being a bit silly, but usually does as she is asked until one night she forgets and Herb is proved right: the wolf does jump out to get him and he is left to sort out the problem with just a little help from a few other storybook favourites. Beware the Storybook Wolves is a superb book with Award-Winner written all over it. Lauren Child's quirky illustrations combine with a unique and funny story that leaves the young reader breathless with every turn, using familiar fairy-tale characters to turn childhood fears on their heads.