Sunday, April 25, 2004
The Wolves in the Walls
Gaiman, Neil. 2003. THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS. Ill. by Dave McKean. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060530871 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
Lucy hears wolves in the walls of her house. According to her family, “if the wolves come out of the walls, then it’s all over.” Eventually the wolves escape the confines of the walls and chase the family into the garden. As the wolves wreak havoc in the house, Lucy realizes she left her beloved pig puppet in the house and sneaks back into the walls of the house. Lucy then proposes staying in the walls to her family rather than staying another night in the garden. The family gets to see the wolves destroying their house. Finally, Lucy’s family turns the tables on the wolves by coming out of the walls and chasing the wolves away. The mess is cleaned up, repairs are made, and life returns to normal for Lucy and her family, except for the muffled sounds of elephants in the walls.
McKean’s artwork, reminiscent of Salvador Dali and Edvard Munch, is a bizarre amalgamation of illustrations combined with photographs and other media. Juxtaposed with this dark and dreary scenery is Lucy’s sweet innocence. She believes the wolves are there when no one else does and she risks her life to save her favorite puppet. Multiple fonts of various sizes also contribute to the sense of the bizarre in the story. Despite the somber palette and creepy illustrations, the story is riddled with humor and silliness. Lucy’s dad is constantly playing the tuba, her brother is only interested in video games, and her mother is obsessed with making jam. The story is suspenseful and scary, but not horrifying or unnerving. The unique illustrations complement this quirky story.
“Everyone knows if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.” Discuss with readers what other similar sayings or expressions they have heard that they never quite understood. Encourage them to research these colloquialisms.
Lucy makes an unlikely hero for her family. What other stories can readers recall where the smallest or youngest character is the hero or the lone voice of reason in a story?
Other books by Gaiman that could be compared to this one:
CORALINE. ISBN 0380977788
HARLEQUIN VALENTINE. ISBN 1840234113
THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR 2 GOLDFISH. ISBN 1565041992
By Lea Ann Gilbert