Howl by Kat Patrick, illustrations by Evie Barrow. Scribble, 9781950354450, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture Book
What did you like about the book? What I really enjoyed about this book is how it shows young children that it is OK to have strong emotions and that sometimes you just need to let out a big howl! The story begins with a young girl named Maggie who is just not having a good day. She seems to think the sun is the wrong shape, the sky is too blue, the spaghetti for dinner is too long, and the squiggles she is drawing are either too squiggly or not squiggly enough. We soon understand that, for Maggie, it is one of those days where nothing is going right. She reluctantly goes up to bed, but things seem to get even worse. She loses her two front teeth and sprouts fangs in their place. She also starts to grow itchy little hairs and her hands form into small paws. Now Maggie has a sudden urgency to go outside and howl to the moon–she tries, but nothing comes out. Meanwhile, her mother is inside the house and she is also having the same transformation as Maggie. Her mother joins her in the backyard and lets out a huge howl. Maggie is impressed, so her mother teaches her how to let it all out–all the pent-up emotions Maggie is feeling. After they howl for a bit, Maggie and her mother enjoy all kinds of wonderful “wolfy” activities in the yard. They prowl in laps around the garden, search for tiny creatures among the plants, and smell the wonderful scents floating in the night air. By the end of their adventures, both Maggie and her mother feel so much better and Maggie is ready for bed.
The illustrations provided by Evie Barrow are perfect for this story. She completely captures the anger and frustration that Maggie is feeling through facial expressions and gestures. When Maggie and her mother exhibit wolfy features, the reader can see the shadowy silhouette of a wolf following their movements throughout the night. Through the illustrations, the reader can clearly see that Maggie is not really turning into a wolf because her fangs, bristly hair, and clenched paws are completely gone when she is with her mother in the backyard. It is simply a way to show how strong emotions can make you feel sometimes.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This story is perfect for children between the ages of three and seven years old. I think it is a great way to show children that their feelings are validated and sometimes they just need to get something out of their system.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children between the ages of three and seven years old.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, this is a great story about helping children get through some of their intense emotions.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: September 30, 2020