Lots of attention for Wolf Story, written by William McCleery with illustrations by Warren Chappell, in the media this weekend. First up is an interview with Michael McCleery, William’s son and the basis for the character of Michael, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Not only will you hear Michael read aloud from the book written for and based on him, but you’ll also learn that it was written during a “quickie divorce” in Reno in 1947. How the best children’s books are made! And the book was also reviewed in The Wall Street Journal: an excerpt of the review is below.
What sings, though, is the lively dialogue in the story by William McCleery (1911-2000) as a 5-year-old boy inveigles his weary father to contrive yet another bedtime story involving a ferocious wolf. The man tries to avoid this, suggesting other animals and peaceable attributes, but only a fierce wolf will do.
‘All right,’ the father says, ‘a terribly fierce wolf with red eyes and teeth as long and sharp as butcher knives.’
‘Mmmmmmm,’ says the boy, resting his cheek on his pillow.
‘I suppose you like that about the butcher knives.’
‘I love it,’ says the boy. ‘Go on.’
What follows is a collaborative tale improvised over the course of days, in which Waldo the wolf kidnaps Rainbow the hen and meets trouble in the form of Rainbow’s owners, the wisecracking Tractorwheel family. First published in 1947, Wolf Story is a romp and a laugh and a nostalgic joy to read aloud.