Friday, January 16, 2015

Wolf Story and The Bear That Wasn't (New York Review of Books)

As a fairly new father, I have quickly learned that reading to my son is about what he wants to read, not what I want to read. I can suggest a book until I am blue in the face, but if he finds some of his favorite books, we will read those books ad nauseum. I will admit, I have hidden those books a time or two just to give him exposure to other books and to give myself a break, but they don't stay hidden for long and before you know it, the old favorites are being read and re-read and re-read. It is for that reason that I, like most parents, can relate so well to Wolf Story.

Wolf Story is a story within a story. One night a man was putting his five-year old son Michael to bed. The man began to tell Michael the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but Michael asked for a new story. The new story involved a hen, named Rainbow; a wolf, named Waldo; and a boy, named Jimmy Tractorwheel. Unlike most stories, where there is one narrator, Michael chimes in on his father telling the story to add his own personal details and make the story his own. The storytelling is not a one night event, but spans many nights and various outings Michael and his father make. In addition to the book being very funny (for kids and adults), I just liked the idea of the book, because it showed a special bond between this father and son and a memory they will be able to look back on when they are both older. This is one book I can't wait to share with my son when he is older, and it is also one I actually hope he asks me to read over and over to him again! Just be sure to read it slowly, like a chapter a night, and not rush through it!

The Bear That Wasn't has been dubbed a modern fairy tale or a fable for adults. In this story, a bear did what bears do and found a cave to hibernate for the winter. When he woke up, a factory was built around the cave. He thought it was a dream, but all of a sudden a factory foreman came running in and ordered him to get back to work. Despite the bear's insistence that he was in fact a bear, no one believed him. He tried to convince all the foremen and vice-presidents that he was a bear, but they didn't believe him either. They even took him to a zoo and a circus, and the bears told him he wasn't a real bear either. You'll have to read the rest to see how it ends.

This book has been re-printed by other publishers, but the hardcover from New York Review of Books is the best edition to get because of the size that capture all of the illustrations beautifully. Apart from the illustrations in this book, it also comes with a good message to remember who you are and be who you are, despite what other people try and make you into. A lot of people have said this was their favorite book as a child. and I can see the merit in it. It wasn't the best book I read, but it is a good book, and if you can find it for a reasonable price, then I'd pick up a copy. 4 stars.

These books were provided to me for free by New York Review of Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found these reviews helpful, click here and/or here and hit Yes!