Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Complete Polly and the Wolf (New York Review of Books)

Due to their voracious appetite, wolves have a nasty reputation in children's stories. Three such examples are Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Peter and the Wolf. Recently, I was introduced to a new set of stories that followed these same plot device of hungry wolf and innocent character trying not to be eaten. It is entitled The Complete Polly and the Wolf. Allow me to tell you a little bit about it.

The Complete Polly and the Wolf is a collection of four volumes of stories - Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, Polly and the Wolf Again, Tales of Polly and the Hungry Wolf, and Last Stories of Polly and the Wolf. The volumes were written by Dr. Catherine Storr and were originally written for her daughter who was always afraid of a wolf under her bed. There are 36 stories total in this collection, each no more than a few pages. Like most wolf stories, the wolf is the villain only thinking about his appetite and trying to eat the child Unlike most wolf stories, the wolf and the would-be victim have a running dialogue. The Wolf and Polly discuss why he wants to eat her, how he plans to catch her, and why he never succeeds. The stories start out with her very young and progress in complexity as she grows older. The game borrows from fairy tales occasionally, as the Wolf reads a lot of books, so he is trying to draw on what he has read to eventually catch her and eat her. The closing story involves the Wolf being captured and Polly coming to his aid. She defends him so that the people will not kill him, but he ends up tricking her (for once) and escaping. The stories are cute and fun and a nice twist on the traditional wolf stories. I read them to my son at night and he thinks they are both funny and silly.

This book was provided to me for free by New York Review of Books in exchange for an honest review.