The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse

Ever wonder why wolves howl at the moon? Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen's modern-day fable reveals the true reason, and readers will never think about oft-vilified wolves the same way again.

A small mouse encounters a wolf in the woods and is promptly gobbled up. Arriving deep in the "belly of the beast," he fears "this is the end." But then he hears a voice. "Be quiet!... I'm trying to sleep." It turns out a duck has been devoured by the wolf, too, and has made himself quite at home. As the duck says, "I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten."

The duck is living high on the hog in his dark dwelling. He rises from his cozy bed and prepares a delicious meal for the mouse, eaten at a candlelit table. "Where did you get jam?" the mouse asks. "And a tablecloth?" The duck is blasé. "You'd be surprised what you find inside of a wolf," he says. At lunch, the mouse asks if the duck misses the outside. "I do not!" the duck says. "When I was outside, I was afraid every day wolves would swallow me up. In here, that's no worry." The mouse concedes that the duck has a point, and shyly asks if he can stay, too. The duck is thrilled, and the two celebrate with music and dancing, which causes the wolf's gut to ache, making him a perfect target for a hunter. Luckily, the hunter misses his shot, but the duck is taking no chances: "Run! Run for our lives!" he calls up to his host.

Readers will laugh out loud at the cunning duck's skills at getting exactly what he wants from the bemused wolf. Author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen--who previously collaborated on Triangle and two Caldecott Honor books, Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole--are an ideal team for readers who like a little quirk in their picture books. The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse is, like all Barnett-Klassen collaborations, distinctly funny, imagination-stirring and lovely to look at. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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