HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: What’s the Time, Grandma Wolf?
Author and Illustrator: Ken Brown
Publisher: Andersen Rand, republished in 2003
ISBN-13: 978-1561452507 (Hard cover)
ISBN-10: 1561452505 (Hard cover)
ISBN-13: 978-1842700686 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1842700685 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Brown, Ken. What’s the Time, Grandma Wolf? (published in 2001 by Peachtree Publishers). Even very youngest of children know that wolves are always “bad” in stories, so this one, which we checked out of the library when our younger son Jeremy was learning to read so that he could have extra practice, plays to that knowledge. A big hairy wolf has moved into the woods, and all the animals know they should leave her alone, but curiosity gets the best of them, and they creep closer up to her house in the forest, asking loudly, “What’s the time, Grandma Wolf?” Each answer seems more threatening. She says it’s time to brush her big teeth, to scrub out the very big stew pot, to sharpen the ax, to chop the wood, to make the fire. Clearly, she is getting ready to cook something. As a tiny duck creeps into the house, the group asks the question once again, and Grandma Wolf raises her paws with a sharp knife and fork and shouts, “It’s–dinnertime!”
This twist on the favorite story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is based on a British tag-like game “What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?”, which is not well known in this country. There are directions on the back jacket flap which explain how to play it. The top-notch watercolor pictures are filled with bubbles, swirls, clouds, and details, and contrast the wide-eyed baby animals with the fiercely toothed Grandma. Every character is humorously distinctive. The depiction of Grandma is a particularly nice mixture of menace and sly good humor. The very simple text will delight youngsters with a slow, repetitive tale of the forest creatures. It builds up excitement because the pictures are so good. The dust jacket illustration makes it seem as if a scary story is ahead, and the plot is slightly suspenseful, especially for little ones, but has a fun surprise ending. Young readers may shriek the first time but the scenes will not alarm anyone after the first reading.