CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 6. . . .October 10, 2014
The Story Starts Here!
Caroline Merola. Translated by Karen Li.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2014.
36 pp., hardcover & pdf, $17.95 (hc.), $9.99 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-77147-079-7 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77147-127-5 (pdf).
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
The Story Starts Here! ought to be the perfect accompaniment to a Backward Day celebration in a primary classroom or a public library programme for younger children.
Author-illustrator Caroline Merola has begun the story at the back: the text on what would usually be the front cover says “The story ends here! No, really. Turn this book around!”
Doing this, we find Little Wolf in a playfully contrary mood, suggesting that the meal should start with dessert and moving on to his playing piano with his toes and putting his pants on his head. Speech bubbles from the unseen adults of the piece respond to each of these ideas with a gentle but firm “No”. (The whole plot is conveyed in speech balloons. There is no additional descriptive text.)
Little Wolf climbs out a window to escape his exasperated parents. He finds other woodland animals galloping along in flight from some unseen terror. Apparently there is a monster on the loose! With floppy ears and claws! Little Wolf cries, “It’s going to eat me!”
When the monster comes into view, the action slows. The monster confesses:
“I just don’t feel like myself today…I feel out of sorts.
Kind of ...topsy-turvy.”
Little Wolf gets the idea to ask the reader to turn the book around again (the ‘right’ way), and, on the next spread, we see that the monster is really Father Wolf who explains that he, too, wanted to play a joke. Little Wolf is annoyed, but not too annoyed. Father and son stroll off through the woods. Little Wolf now has his bright jeans not on his head but on his arms, saying that this is “the latest style”.
The colour palette in the book is a bright one, and the illustrations fill the pages. Animals are shown in simple outline, appearing childishly drawn. Because the arc of the story is such a simple one and the text so minimal, the suspense hardly has time to build. The prosaic ending falls flat.
The Story Starts Here! is a book for only the largest picture book collections.
Recommended with Reservations.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
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