Barrington Stoke have added two beastly good new titles to their Red Squirrel Books imprint.
Wolf Man, by Michael Rosen, takes us straight into the action. Wolf Man has escaped, and everyone is terrified, including the army, who are hiding in dustbins. Where will Wolf Man’s rampage end? The anti-climax – Wolf Man needs to use the toilet – will have readers laughing out loud.
As you’d expect from master storyteller Rosen, the story is well-paced and just the right amount of scary (I love the cut-out claw marks on the cover). Chris Mould’s frantic, furry Wolf Man is wonderfully hideous and the predominantly orange, blue and green palette is lively and distinctive.
In Charlie Higson’s Freddy and the Pig, Freddy sends a pig to school in his place and whilst Freddy becomes unhealthy and useless playing video games all day, the pig flourishes and becomes the perfect child. So much so that Freddy is sold to a vegetarian family where he can roll around in the mud all day and the pig goes on to graduate from University and become an MP. (Insert your own comparisons here.)
The moral that we don’t always know what is best for us feels fresh and not didactic. There are echoes of Anthony Browne’s excellent Piggybook – where the males of a household turn into pigs after behaving like lazy animals – though Freddy doesn’t quite go the whole hog. Mark Chambers’ illustrations bring the surreal comedy of the story to life, with lots of added visual details (I liked the pig-shaped pencil case).
Fun, thrilling, and with the attention to accessible storytelling that you’d expect from Red Squirrel Books.
Wolf Man, by Michael Rosen and Chris Mould, and Freddy and the Pig, by Charlie Higson and Mark Chambers, published by Barrington Stoke, are available now.