Wordless Books

Wolf In The Snow

Matthew Cordell

Winner of the Caldecott Medal 2018, Wolf In The Snow is a tale of a little girl who rescues a lost wolf cub in a snowstorm and who, shortly afterwards, finds the wolves rescuing her. It has the feel of a modern-day Aesop’s fable, such as The Lion and the Mouse, where one selfless act of kindness prompts a similarly generous action in return.

There are also overtones of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, as the red-coated girl has a direct confrontation with a wolf in a forest far from home. But in this 21stcentury version the traditional tale is given a contemporary twist, as this is a female wolf and she and the rest of her pack turn out to be the heroes rather than the villains of the story.

There are some words but they are purely onomatopoeic ones, such as ‘huff huff’, ‘whine whine’, ‘hoowwwll’, ‘growwlll’ or ‘screech!’. So we read the story entirely through the pictures, which show various scenes of an isolated snowy landscape as the girl returns home from school. One particularly nice aspect of these is the changing light, as day turns slowly into night over the course of several pages.

The story is bookended with two reassuring images of the child’s cosy home, as seen by looking in through a window. This pair of pictures provides a dramatic contrast to the cold, wild and potentially dangerous outside world that we see in the bulk of the scenes, and they not only restore a sense of security but also provide this moral tale with an image of physical warmth that mirrors the girl’s own spiritual warmth.