Are you afraid of the big bad wolf? Is he really as “bad” as others say he is? Nothing is as it seems in this short graphic novel. The Wolf in Underpants, written by Wilfrid Lupano and illustrated by Mayana Itoiz and Paul Cauuet, transforms the common wolf stereotype into a comedic folktale.
Local forest denizens prepare themselves every day for a possible wolf attack. Various traps and weapons are sold, nightly wolf lectures are held, newspapers print articles on recent wolf attacks, and the anti-wolf brigade are geared up and ready to defend. Everything is in place until the wolf is sighted. As everyone hides from the gruesome predator, they are surprised by who they see. It is indeed the wolf, but he is not scary at all. In fact, he is a nice guy who wears a pair of underpants to keep himself warm and shops at the supermarket. But with this revelation, what will the forest critters do now?
Itoiz and Cauuet use a cartoon style in their comic, which will appeal to young readers. The duo have created anthropomorphic characters of different professions and appearances, from moose professors to knitting owls. Fearful and surprised expressions are clearly shown in each character, especially before the wolf’s reveal. In fact, the titular wolf is far from his fairytale counterpart, with his stylish underpants, friendly smile, and clean grey fur. The use of color to denote danger, daytime, and nighttime adds to each scene’s atmosphere. The rest of the color palette is used very well to add small but noticeable features found in the forest and on each character.
The placement of the character’s dialogue and any other outside narration is different from the traditional graphic novel format. At first the story starts off with an unnamed first person narrator, describing the supposedly dangerous wolf that lives above the forest, but it then becomes a comic with the characters exchanging dialogue but without the use of speech bubbles or panels. This placement works well with Lupano’s story, allowing each character to voice their opinions one after another. The moral will teach children that it does not make sense to be afraid all the time, especially when your fear takes over your daily life.
The Wolf in Underpants is a great graphic novel for young readers who are looking for a short read or a comedy. Children in grades 2nd-4th will enjoy the fun story and be surprised with the wolf’s true identity. Public and school librarians should consider this title, especially if they are looking for something a little different for their collections or an easy, quick read for their patrons.
The Wolf in Underpants
By Wilfrid Lupano
Art by Mayana Itoiz Paul Cauuet
Lerner Publishing Group, 2019