My little one has developed a distinct affinity for wolves. (I can't be certain, but I think it all started with Sir John Geilgud.)
This fascination has endured for months. In fact, we recently took her to the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY, where we were able to get up close and personal with a few of their "Ambassador Wolves." From the howling to the eating, my little one was not afraid. Impressed, yes, but not frightened.
Her love of wolves (especially Apache) has translated into a difficulty in comprehending why they end up as villains in so many stories.
"But aren't they nice wolves, Mama?" she will ask me.
Yesterday at the book store, she found LonPoPo: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China, translated and gorgeously illustrated by Ed Young. Of course, she had to have it. Thumbing through it, I found the illustrations a little unnerving and thought for sure that this would be the end of the wolf affair.
She loves it.
In the story, three sisters, through intelligence and teamwork, save themselves from their own demise at the hands of a cunning and hungry wolf. In one sense, it is a good lesson for children, to learn to believe in their own capabilities.
But what of all the Laws of Nature-abiding wolves, the wolves who do not stalk children, wolves who do not imitate the voices of beloved grandparents, wolves whose names are sullied by such gross misrepresentation? For them, Ed Young has included a message:
"To all the wolves of the world
for lending their good name
as a tangible symbol
for our darkness."