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There's a Wolf at the Door: 03/20/09

There's a Wolf at the Door takes five fairy tales that feature wolves and retells them. They are illustrated in a manner similar to a graphic novel and the book did make it to the finals of the graphic novels panel for the Cybils this year.

The five retold stories are: The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings. While I applaud the attempt to retell these well known classic fairy tales, I think they could have been better.

First and foremost, the layout of the panels lacks the necessary unity between text and illustrations. Typically in graphic novels and comic books the text is hand lettered or set in a typeface that mimics hand lettering. In other words, the text looks like it is part of the illustration as the two are telling the story together. Here, the typeface is a generic looking serif font; it looks like a Times variant. Regardless of what the typeface is, it jumps off the page in a very jarring fashion, pulling my attention away from the illustrations. Every so often, though, some of the lettering is done by hand which makes the presentation all the more bizarre.

Each story has a moral as many children's stories do. The message though seems to be emphasized at the expense of the humor of the story. Sometimes the moral is literally screamed by a character in ALL CAPS. Subtly is often a more effective teacher than a lesson shouted on a bull horn.

The one thing though that really does work are segues between stories. There is just one wolf looking for a meal and failing each time to get what he wants. Each story takes off where the last one ended proving a seamless transition through five very different stories.

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