1. Wolf, Chicken, Farmer, Opinionated Son

    Wolf Story by William McCleery. First published in 1947 and resurrected by the New York Review children’s collection, this ridiculously charming book is about a wolf, and a chicken, and a farmer, but really it’s about an exasperated, loving father in midcentury New York telling his very opinionated son a story.

    —Dan Kois in Slate chose Wolf Story as one of his “15 Favorite Books of 2012." We think the page above shows how narrative should work.

  2. New Books for Kids! New Sale on Kids’ Books!

    Hey, Waldo did you hear that we were offering a bunch of books in our kids’ series at a special discount?

    No, seriously, your fans can buy Wolf Story at 30% off the retail price. And by the way, Waldo, have you listened to your old friend Mike talk on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered about how his father, William McCleery wrote Wolf Story for him all those years ago? Go on, it might cheer you up.

    Ogdon! You seem to know all about this sale already. Can we ask how you’re feeling about your book, written by Rhoda Levine and illustrated by Edward Gorey, being available again?

    Excellent. The only thing that better would be if that giant dog in your back yard gave up the secret of his name—but he’s not talking.

    So all that remains is for everyone to spread the word. Cheerful, it looks like you’ve already started talking to some real chatty types. Nice work!

    Now on sale at 30% off the retail price (but not on sale forever):

  3. Wolf Story in the news

    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.

  4. “All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.”


    Margaret Atwood blurbed Wolf Story—and she probably doesn’t even realize it (from The Blind Assassin). Illustration above by Warren Chappell.

  5. Fall 2012 Books Preview: Part II

    Yesterday we posted the first half of our Fall 2012 list, and today we are previewing the second half. This does include all of the imprints under the New York Review Books umbrella, which includes NYRB Classics (all the titles yesterday were Classics), The New York Review’s Children’s Collection, The Little Bookroom, and NYRB Collections.

    Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov: Andrey Platonov, relatively unknown and unpublished at the time of his death, is now fully recognized as one the great Russian authors of the 20th century. NYRB Classics continues its series of his books with this early and unfinished work about a young girl who accepts Stalin’s tenets of a new utopian world, only to discover the tragedy that underlines the forced modernization of the Soviet Empire.

    Testing the Current by William McPherson: A classic bildungsroman on the New Deal era, Testing the Current is a remarkable debut novel by a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, and was highly lauded on its publication.

    The Gate by Natsume Soseki: A novel of tribulation in love throughout the years, all in the understated style that made Soseki so celebrated. Soseki, widely considered the greatest Japanese novelist of the Meiji era, believed The Gate was his best work.

    The Diary of a Man in Despair by Friedrich Reck: A Prussian conservative aristocrat, one might expect that Friedrich Reck would have supported Hitler in his quest to make Germany dominant. In fact, Reck aggressively rejected Nazism in his journals, buried in his garden at night for safekeeping, journals that Hannah Arendt called “one of the most important documents of the Hitler era.”


    Cheerful by Palmer Brown: Cheerful is an adorable little story about a city mouse who wants to visit the country, wonderfully accompanied by Brown’s, author of Something for Christmas and Beyond the Pawpaw Trees, filigreed illustrations

    Pinocchio (illustrated) by Carlo Collodi: One of the best known stories of all time, though mostly through the Disney film. This edition with illustrations by Fulvio Testa—one of Italy’s most distinguished artists—is a perfect way to introduce children to this timeless story, through a translation by award-winning poet Geoffrey Brock.

    Wolf Story by William McCleery: This book is made to be read aloud by parents. Each night, Michael’s father tells stories about Waldo the Wolf’s constant attempts to catch Rainbow the Hen. Of course, the story continues and changes each night, often with firm directions from Michael himself.


    The Angels of Paris: Looking Up in the World’s Most Beautiful City by Rosemary Flannery: Angels have always exerted fascination among many people. So has Paris. Little surprise, then, that from the Sorbonne to the Théatre du Châtelet, the architecture of Paris is frequently decorated by sublime sculptures of Angels. Angels of Paris describes the history of these architectural messengers of God, with photographs, and allows the reader to study them at home or on a trip to the City of Lights.


    Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays on Classics and Pop Culture by Daniel Mendelsohn: A collection of Daniel Mendelsohn’s criticisms and reviews, mostly from the pages of The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. Mendelsohn’s essays provide a unique way of looking at contemporary culture, based upon a firm understanding of Classical Studies.