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Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

Wolves in the Walls (2003)

by Neil Gaiman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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'The Wolves in the Walls' is illustrated by Dave McKean and written by Neil Gaiman. In this story, Gaiman is showing how Lucy should not always be afraid of monsters. Using wolves hiding in the walls of Lucy and her family's house Gaiman is introducing the concept of fear. Sometimes what we are afraid of may also be just as afraid of us. ( )
  Jtreed | Mar 22, 2016 |
Summary: The book was a contemporary fiction, and the setting seems to be in present time, possibly the United States. Lucy is a young girl who is sure she hears wolves in the walls of her home. She tells her mother and her mother assumes they are just mice, her father thinks they are rats, and her brother tells her they are bats. All of her family tell her that if the wolves come out of the walls, it is all over, but Lucy doesn't know what that means. The wolves do come out of the walls and take over the house, causing Lucy’s family to flee from their home and live in the garden. Lucy returns to her home through the walls to retrieve her beloved pig-puppet, and tells her family they can live in the walls of their home. After living briefly in the walls of their home, Lucy’s family comes out of the walls scaring off the wolves. In the end the house is cleaned and back to normal, but Lucy hears a different type of animal in the walls...

Personal Reaction: This has been one of my favorite picture books. The illustrations and art work on each page are incredible. Dave McKean incorporates real photography and real images in the artwork, of what it looks like water color painting to create these vivid images of the writer's words, making everything come to life through the pictures. Neil Gaiman has a way with words and the boxed phrasing on each page makes every section gripping. I felt for poor Lucy when no one believed her except her adorable pig-puppet. This was a wonderfully written and beautifully designed contemporary picture book, but it was a bit scary for very small children. The fonts used were wonderful and the different sizing of the words truly emphasized the different words.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1) At the very end of the book, Lucy hears Elephants in the walls, have students write the extension to the book, as if it didn't end, have them write what the elephants do and draw their pictures using photography images and water colors. This will help with creative thinking as well as critical for the students must decide on how the story should end, or what other animals after the elephants will Lucy hear, or maybe how will the family get rid of the elephants, or will the family move to an island like her father had mentioned
2) This would be a great introduction book for a computer class, or using different fonts. For example, after reading this book take the students to the computer lab and introduce them to the different fonts and sizing within word or other writing programs. Have a discussion as to what words in the book were sized differently and why. Have students create a small paragraph of an event in their life, and ask them to make the words different sizes and different fonts to emphasize and highlight certain things. ( )
  Genevieve.Foerster | Mar 21, 2016 |
A creepy children's story. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
The Wolves In the Walls tells the story of young Lucy. She keeps hearing scritches, scratches and other noises in the walls. She in convinced that there are wolves behind them but her family keeps fluffing off her fears, but not without throwing out an ominous warning, "If the wolves come out of the walls, then it's all over." You must read on to find out what happens to Lucy, her pig puppet, and their family when Lucy's fears come true.

This may be our favorite new picture book. My son picked it randomly off the shelf at the library and while I usually put his random selections back, seeing Neil Gaiman's name on the cover made me rethink that plan. I was not at all disappointed. We've already read it a number of times since bringing it home and it is definitely on our "need to own" list. It is a modern day horror story for the preschool and kindergarten set that you won't regret you brought home.

In addition to the great storytelling, Dave McKean's artwork is also phenomenal. The whole book is in dark, sepia tones and manages to seamlessly combine two-dimensional and three-dimensional aspects. Many of the characters look just as you would expect to seem them in such films as Coraline, The Corpse Bride, or the Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm a sucker for the incredible artwork found in modern day children's books and this one definitely takes the cake. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This is truly an amazing picture book! It has something to offer to readers of all ages, from mid-elementary school through adults. The humor, nonsensical plot, original illustrations, and unexpected developments in "The Wolves in the Walls" make it a unique standout in any picture book collection.

To view an annotated bibliography of this title written for EDLI200, expand the spoiler entry below:

Picture Books
Easy Readers
Graphic Novel/Comic Book

Estimated age level of interest:
Grades 3-6

Estimated reading level:
Grade 4

Brief description:
Lucy warns her family that the noises in their home are wolves living in their walls, but nobody believes her. That is, until the wolves come out of the walls and the family must work together to come up with a way to reclaim their home from their unwanted house guests.

At least 2 characteristics of this genre and subgenre and how they appear in this book:

Picture books use illustrations and text together to tell a story. Neil Gaiman’s dark humor, featured in many of his books written for an older audience, is still very much present in this title for a younger crowd. The bizarre and nonsensical elements of this story might be hard to wrap one’s mind around if not for the accompaniment of such vivid and well-rendered illustrations. Such strange ideas as wolves living inside the walls of a house and suddenly leaping out to take over the home make little sense from a real-world standpoint, but the creative images that are paired with the text allow for a suspension of disbelief that make the story very enjoyable. Additionally, the illustration to do not only serve to clarify the peculiar plot, but add to the storyline in and of themselves. One example is an illustration during a scene where Lucy and her family find themselves driven from their home by the wolves and sleeping outside. Lucy misses her pig-puppet and worries what might be happening to her. While Lucy does not explicitly describe what she fears may be happening inside the house, the illustration reveals what the text leaves unspoken and depicts the young girl envisioning her precious pig being devoured by a ghoulish wolf (http://i2.wp.com/thispicturebooklife.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/thewolvesint...).

Picture books also use elements of design to tell a story. The text in this book is not laid out in a traditional arrangement. In fact, the text on a single page may vary in size, font, orientation and line weight, all to create a particular visual impact which, paired with the illustrations, adds to the overall graphic impact of the work (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/9e/70/7e/9e707e9d6476925695afbec9b1ecce23.jpg). Additionally, while most pages contain full-page illustrations, the book strategically adopts a graphic novel type of layout on certain pages in order to depict a sequence of events or multiple people speaking consecutively on a single page (href=”http://40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1ofmr9KyJ1r2ygl2o1_1280.jpg).

In what ways and how well does the book as a whole serve its intended audience?

I can’t say that I can really identify an intended audience for this book. I feel that it has something to offer from readers ranging from a mid-upper elementary level right up through adult readers, like myself. What I appreciate about the book (particularly the dry wit of the story and the amazing application of mixed-medium illustration techniques) will be much different from what a younger reader will enjoy in it. However, as a picture book, if we assume this younger audience of children somewhere in the range of grades 3-6 is the group of readers for whom this book is intended, then we can certainly identify some ways in which it serves them well.

For starters, the nonsensical humor in this story will certainly resonate with a younger audience, even if some of the more subtle, high-brow notes are lost on them. Such silliness as wolves beating the high scores on a video game or eating popcorn and watching movies highlight pastimes that children can relate to and make for some truly entertaining illustrations. Additionally, the protagonist, Lucy, has to cope with her fears of things that go bump in the night, an anxiety that all children must overcome at some point. The story shines a light on the monsters under the bed (or more accurately, the wolves in the walls) that we hide from, demystifies them through the use of humor, and empowers children to face their own boogie men as they watch a courageous, young heroine lead her family to victory as she conquers her own fears.

Awards, if any:

2003 - New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book
2003 - British Science Fiction Association Award for Short Fiction
2004 - IRA/CBC Children's Choice Award

Links to published, professional reviews, if any:

Amazon has 3 full-length editorial reviews and short quotes from multiple other professional reviews available at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0380810956?ie=UTF8&isInIframe=1&n=28315...

( )
  nphill85 | Oct 12, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lucy walked around the house.
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AR 3.9, Pts 0.5
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380810956, Paperback)

Truth be told, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's picture book The Wolves in the Walls is terrifying. Sure, the story is fairytale-like and presented in a jaunty, casually nonsensical way, but it is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. Lucy hears wolves hustling, bustling, crinkling, and crackling in the walls of the old house where her family lives, but no one believes her. Her mother says it's mice, her brother says bats, and her father says what everyone seems to say, "If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over." Lucy remains convinced, as is her beloved pig-puppet, and her worst fears are confirmed when the wolves actually do come out of the walls.

Up to this point, McKean's illustrations are spectacular, sinister collages awash in golden sepia tones evocative of the creepy beauty in The City of Lost Children. The wolves explode into the story in scratchy pen-and-ink, all jaws and eyes. The family flees to the cold, moonlit garden, where they ponder their future. (Her brother suggests, for example, that they escape to outer space where there's "nothing but foozles and squossucks for billions of miles.") Lucy wants to live in her own house...and she wants the pig-puppet she left behind.

Eventually she talks her family into moving back into the once-wolfish walls, where they peek out at the wolves who are watching their television and spilling popcorn on slices of toast and jam, dashing up the stairs, and wearing their clothes. When the family can't stand it anymore, they burst forth from the walls, scaring the wolves, who shout, "And when the people come out of the walls, it's all over!" The wolves flee and everything goes back to normal...until the tidy ending when Lucy hears "a noise that sounded exactly like an elephant trying not to sneeze." Adult fans of this talented pair will revel in the quirky story and its darkly gorgeous, deliciously shadowy trappings, but the young or faint of heart, beware! (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of her house, although others in her family disagree, and when the wolves come out, the adventure begins.

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