Families come in all forms. Ame Dyckman’s new picture book, illustrated by Zachariah OHora, is all about the most unlikely new family member for a bunny family of three. They arrive home one day, surprised to find a bundle on their front stoop—and it’s none other than a baby wolf. Mama and Papa Bunny don’t even flinch: They agree he’s adorable and that he’s a keeper. Their daughter, Dot, has other ideas, however: “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!” she says. In fact, she says it repeatedly. But no one listens. They’re “too smitten to listen.”
Eventually, Wolfie is up and walking around, and he’s crazy for Dot. But Dot still refuses to trust the canine—until one day, that is, when a giant bear tries to eat Wolfie and Dot finds herself coming to her little brother’s aid. Turns out she’s happy to be her brother’s keeper after all.
This take on the universal new-sibling story from Dyckman, who seems to get even better with each book, is fresh and funny. Both the author and illustrator handle Dot’s rollercoaster feelings with the respect they deserve. And her rather hapless state of affairs, as she watches her parents fall in love with this new family member she hasn’t yet accepted, is compelling. And she’s a funny bunny, too; OHora gives her entertaining angry brows. The depictions of the passive newborn wolf being doted upon, as Dot throws some serious shade at him with those mad brows, are laugh-out-loud funny.
OHora’s limited palette is dominated by mustards, pea greens and pink, giving the book a bit of a retro look. Dot stands out, as she should, in her bright red jacket, and the hungry bear at the book’s close has red pants, emphasizing this emotionally charged scene’s inherent drama. OHora’s vibrant and thickly outlined illustrations also capture a particular neighborhood. He writes in a closing Artist’s Note that the book’s setting is an homage to Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he once lived.
With winning characters and lots of humor, this is a welcome addition to the world of new-sibling picture books. Just like Wolfie, this one’s a keeper.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.