Jon Klassen
The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse

Walker (4+)

9781406377798 (hardback)

When a mouse is gobbled up by a wolf he fears it is the end…until that is, he meets a duck in the belly of the beast. Together they settle into something like domestic bliss, finally free from the ever present threat of predators. Unfortunately for all of them a hunter has other ideas...

Emphasised by a dark palette, this wholly original and faintly sinister story harkens to Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf, taking that fable into a delightfully surreal direction of sly survivor revenge.

The spare illustrations in crayon, pencil and oils, give texture to the animals and forest setting, whilst enhancing the wintry tone. A dryly humorous text gives the pictures plenty of space for the characters’ expressions to tell their own narrative (so much is conveyed by the direction of a pupil in an eyeball) yet words and illustrations still work together perfectly on the page when they need to. The layouts are perfectly pitched to fit each plot development as the eaten become ever more demanding of their host in their bespoke culinary requests. When their newly acquired lifestyle is endangered, Duck and Mouse are quick to rescue the wolf, another delicious twist as the prey become their foe’s saviours. There is some complex storytelling to navigate in the bizarre situation (how did a colander, hockey stick and record player find their way into Duck’s intestinal dining room?) which invites readers into questions, discussion and anarchic giggles throughout this richly rewarding picture book.


Jon Klassen is the author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, the only book to ever win both the Kate Greenaway and Caldecott Medal. He also illustrated Extra Yarn and the Caldecott Honor book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, both written by Mac Barnett, as well as Ted Kooser's House Held Up By Trees. Before making picture books, he served as an illustrator on the animated feature film, Coraline. Originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, Jon now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife.

Back to The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist for 2019