Where’s the Big Bad Wolf?

by Eileen Christelow

Publisher – Clarion Books, Ages 4-9

“This is good clownish fun, and the rough-and-tumble art keeps the farce bubbling.”

— Kirkus Reviews

— Gold Best Book Award—Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

— One of Smithsonian’s ‘Notable Books for Children—2002

The Story:

Ezra and his five dogs live high on a hilltop. Just down the hill lives old Betty, who visits daily with cookies and advice on how to stay warm on the cold winter nights. But Ezra doesn’t want Betty’s advice­—or her blankets which she offers him after the first snowy night.

“It wasn’t so bad,” says Ezra. “It was only a three-dog night.”

“Stubborn as a mule,” frets Betty. “He’ll turn into a block of ice.”

After the coldest night of all, Betty rushes up to Ezra’s house to check on him. What she discovers there makes a funny and satisfying climax to this folksy story about friendship and keeping warm.

Where did you get the IDEA?

It’s amazing what inspiration you can find in the newspaper! This was a front-page story! The Big Bad Wolf was on trial in our local courthouse for destroying the home of the three little pigs! Local students took part as lawyers, jurors, the wolf and the pigs.

Of course, I decided to turn that news item into a picture book! But as I wrote, I realized that the story of a trial is all talk and no action. Picture books need action! So, I found myself writing a mystery.

The Writing:

My first draft of this story was 4,000 words—way too long! I cut out almost 3,000 words and several characters. The big Bad Wolf’s mother, the mother of the 3 little pigs and a chicken all had to go.

The Illustrations:

The line is drawn with a Hunt’s ‘school house’ pen point dipped into black Calli ink. I photocopied the line onto Whatman 90 lb cold press watercolor paper. I painted the illustrations with Holbein acrylic gouache.

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