The Wolf in Underpants by Wilfrid Lupano

The Wolf in UnderpantsThe Wolf in Underpants by Wilfrid Lupano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Based on the cute cover and description, I am very sad to say I just didn’t love this picture book. On my first read through, I didn’t enjoy this at all. I was frustrated and disappointed, and I didn’t think it was funny or even interesting. However, after the shock wore off, I made myself read it again. It went better the second time through, so maybe this one has to grow on you. I still don’t love it, nor does it make me laugh, but I see what they were trying to accomplish, even if it fell short.

The storytelling is both a bit rough and random at times. This makes the plot and dialogue feel weak, especially at the start and end of the story.

This would not translate very well to audio for the blind and seeing-impaired, since the words and sentences on their own aren’t very compelling and don’t tell a complete story. However, it does have a lot going on in the artwork, which would be interesting to discuss while reading one-on-one with a seeing child.

Since I work at the State Library, which houses the state’s Library for the Blind and Physically handicapped, I will also note that this isn’t a great story for those with a significant seeing impairment or a reading disability, due to the many varied font issues and sizes, such as small white writing on a neon green background. Even I struggled to read that, and my contacts correct to 20/20, though it may be easier to read in print than it was digitally.

I would also not recommend reading this with a large group of a children, unless they are extremely attentive or you can blow the artwork up, as this is a story where you will need to point out what is going on in the artwork and discuss it, so that the kids might be able to understand what is happening in the story. It isn’t clear and obvious just from the text and pictures, which I think is why it didn’t sit well with me on the first read.

The artwork is bright and colorful, and I really enjoy it in some panels. But in other panels, it’s extremely busy and detailed, and it looks a bit rough around the edges, which I think contributes to the difficulty with sharing the artwork with a large groups, especially considering it has random side comments interspersed here and there that relate but aren’t really part of the storytelling. That makes this a better read for when you are sitting down with one or two children, and they can explore each page and discuss it, before moving on. The benefit of this book is more in talking about the scenes and artwork, since the storytelling isn’t always cohesive.

Also, I will note that this story has multiple uses of the words butt and buttocks. I personally don’t mind this at all, and I prefer correct terminology for body parts. However, breaking out that word repeatedly with a classroom of early learners could definitely cause some chaos (and the constant discussion of everyone’s butts following the completion of reading the book should add a layer of excitement to your day), which is another reason you may want to consider your group, before reading this out loud to them.

I think that had the storyline been stronger, and even funnier (truly funny, not just gimmicky), that would have helped. I honestly didn’t think this was funny at all in the first read. On the second read, I could see how it was trying to be clever, but I think that was the problem. It tried so hard to be clever and funny, that it missed the mark and lacks the ease and enjoyment factor of a truly great picture book. It didn’t really make me feel any emotions when I read it, which is where the deeper problem lies. Also, the final lesson is going to go way over the heads of children, which is probably for the best, since it feels out of the blue and unnecessary.

On the bonus side, it has underwear in it, so your kids may love this book, just because they get to look at and talk about a wolf in underwear, though there really weren’t many good underwear jokes, which I thought was a let down.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an early copy for my review. I would give the story 2 stars and the artwork 3, which means I’ve settle on 2.5 stars. Since I always round up, this gets 3 stars.

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