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The Wolves In The Walls
Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
HarperCollins hardcover $16.99

review by Michael McCarty

Fantasist extraordinaire and bestselling writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean have been collaborating on a series of superb books for younger readers. It began with the witty picture book The Day I Swapped My Dad For 2 Goldfish, followed by the frightening and fanciful (and one of my favourite Gaiman works) Coraline.
   The Wolves In The Walls is just as imaginative as those two works and just as much fun, but aimed at a younger audience. This is the story of average girl Lucy who lives with a quirky family (father plays the tuba, mom makes homemade jams, brother is addicted to video games) and takes solace with her pig-puppet. Then one night she hears noises coming from inside the walls.
   "They were hustling noises and bustling noises. They were crinkling noises and crackling noises." Did mice make these strange noises? Nope. Did rats make them? Negative. Were they even made by creepy-crawlies? Wrong. Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of her house, although others in the family disagree, thinking it is an overactive imagination. When the wolves actually come out the adventure begins. The four-legged fur-balls take over the house and party all night and day. All the time, the poor family has to take refuge out in the yard. Things look pretty dismal for the parents and the children until Lucy has a brilliant idea of taking back their home.
   A highly enjoyable book in which Dave McKean does an awesome job with the 3-D like artwork (I have to admit, the father looks a little bit like McKean). The colour illustrations have a darkly surreal quality to them. Every family member has a cubist drawn face. Some of the best drawings are of Lucy talking with her pig-puppet; you feel the sense of camaraderie between the girl and her toy. Although the story involves wolves, they aren't drawn as menacing (especially when one of the beast plays the tuba), the fury creatures are out to have a good time, although they do wreck some havoc by their partying.
   I'd compare the book to compare to Angela Carter's The Company Of Wolves, but this is more light humour and fun. A better comparison would be Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The Wolves In The Walls is top-notch fantasy, a postmodern fairy tale for the young ones. It is the kind of book I wish I had when I was young. I hope Gaiman and McKean team-up for another hi-jinx book soon.
Wolves In The Walls

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