Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, by David Almond and Dave McKean (Illustrations)
The imagination of three children takes on unexpected life in a creation tale from the dream team of David Almond and Dave McKean.
The gods have created a world that is safe and calm and rather wonderful. They have built mountains, forests, and seas and filled the world with animals, people, and unnamed beasts. Now their days are fat with long naps in the clouds, mutual admiration, and tea and cake. But their world has gaps in it filled with emptiness, gaps that intrigue Harry, Sue, and little Ben until they begin to see what might fill them. One by one the children conjure, from twigs and leaves and stones, a mousy thing, a chirpy thing, and a twisty legless thing. But as the children’s ideas grow bolder, the power of their visions proves greater and more dangerous than they, or the gods, could ever have imagined. Is it possible to unmake what’s been made?
Reading level: Ages 7 and up
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (May 14, 2013)
About the Author:
David Almond is a British children’s writer who has penned several novels, each one to critical acclaim. He was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia. When he was young, he found his love of writing when some short stories of his were published in a local magazine. He started out as an author of adult fiction before finding his niche writing literature for young adults.
His first children’s novel, Skellig (1998), set in Newcastle, won the Whitbread Children’s Novel of the Year Award and also the Carnegie Medal. His subsequent novels are: Kit’s Wilderness (1999), Heaven Eyes (2000), Secret Heart (2001), The Fire Eaters (2003) and Clay (2005). His first play aimed at adolescents, Wild Girl, Wild Boy, toured in 2001 and was published in 2002.
His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of ‘the self’. He has been greatly influenced by the works of the English Romantic poet William Blake.
He is an author often suggested on National Curriculum reading lists in the United Kingdom and has attracted the attention of academics who specialise in the study of children’s literature.
Almond currently lives with his family in Northumberland, England.
About the Artist:
Dave McKean is a world-renowned artist, designer, and film director who has illustrated several books for children, including The Savage by David Almond, and Coraline, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and The Wolves in the Wall, all by Neil Gaiman. Dave McKean lives in England.
This is an interesting and contemporary modern fable in the form of an early reader book. The wolf eating the kids was a bit predictable, but I generally liked the story in spite of that. The illustrations were breathtaking and gave the story a fantastical atmosphere.
I enjoyed the moral of the story, but I would be a little concerned about reading this to very young readers since the part with the wolf is kind of disturbing. The reading level is for children 7 and up, which seems appropriate considering the subject matter.