Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Wolf, The Duck And The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen [Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Award 2019]

Review: The Wolf, The Duck And The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen [Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Award 2019]


One day a mouse meets a wolf and the mouse is quickly gobbled up. 

At first the mouse thinks it is the end of the world, but inside the wolf’s tummy he meets a duck. Duck used to worry about being eaten, but once it actually happened that was the end of his woes. Life inside the wolf isn’t so bad. Soon the two are firm friends, feasting and dancing together in their new home. 

When the wolf is chased by a hunter, the mouse and the duck know they must do everything they can to save their lives. 

A fable about seeing things from a different perspective and a funny tale about why wolves howl every night. 

This begins like many timeless stories, with one animal swallowed by another, but the familiar story is turned on its head. Mouse and duck make wolf’s tummy their happy home. Everything about this story, from the language to the familiar cast of a hunter and a wolf, feels like a fairytale. It has the same qualities as those bedtime stories we all know and offers us a message to take away into our lives. 

With illustrations created in different shades of dark, we begin the story feeling as if we are walking into the unknown. Only when the two friends meet and a candle sheds some light on their setting do we see some brighter colours – a tablecloth here, some vegetables there. This clever use of colour creates an unforgettable mood. 

Mouse and duck’s rescue mission picture is a joy. Having taken up a small part of every double-page spread, we suddenly see them as if they are the largest characters in the story. Determination is written all over their faces as they go to take on the hunter with a hockey stick, and a pan for a helmet. 

The ending is made memorable by pictures which contrast the joy of mouse and duck, and the wolf’s agonised howls. 

This story has been shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Award. It is certainly a timeless book and Jon Klassen is no stranger to major awards. His work draws people of all ages and makes me think of John Birnigham (if he ran out of all the brighter colours). 

A tale to read together, and then to retell from memory. A true classic. 


Louise Nettleton


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The winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal is announced on 18th June 2019. Learn more and keep up with news of the awards on the official website.


Thanks to Walker Books and Riot Communications for my gifted copy of The Wolf, The Duck And The Mouse. Opinions my own.

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