Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ferocious Wild Beasts

When you were young, did your mother caution you about venturing too far from home? Aside from stranger danger, did her warnings include the possibility of mauling from wild animals that linger in dangerous areas?

Jack's mother has repeatedly warned him never to go into the forest because of the ferocious wild beasts that roam there. Like so many little boys, he ignores his mom's good advice, trundles in and promptly gets lost. Jack is slumped on a tree stump, thinking he probably should have listened to his mother (See!) when a large brown bear strolls up. He nicely offers to lead a path out of the forest when Jack informs him of the hairy beasts that hide in the shadows. The bear is aghast - he has not heard of these terrible creatures!

The pair venture on and meet an elephant snacking on a banana. Just like the bear, this elephant is oblivious to the wild creatures of the forest. Jack tells him the ferocious beasts are so big they could easily step on an elephant and squish him just like that. Now that the elephant is sufficiently terrified, he is eager to join their band. The terrified trio go on to alarm a dozing lion, crocodile, wolf and python. Wouldn't Jack's mother be pleased to see how many ears her warnings have reached?

The group is creeping along (safety in numbers, you know) when they hear a noise that sounds very much like a terrible beast stomping through the undergrowth. Seven pairs of eyes grow wide and seven mouths open in fear. They see a flickering light and hear a great wild roar. It must be the ferocious wild beasts! Everyone runs off in terror, except for Jack. Something about the sounds of this beast seem familiar to his ears. It is indeed Jack's wild beast of a mom, frantic for her son's safety. While the other animals cower in the shadows, Jack gets a lecture and an escort straight home.

I love how Jack is interacting with the very animals him mom warned him about, yet entirely clueless about the whole thing. He's cautions the bear about big hairy animals and warns the lion about beasts with sharp claws and big teeth. How funny to see the big forest animals be cowed by Jack's mommy. Although, her hair does seem to be standing on end, and you know how a mom can get when her babies are in danger ...

Great, big, beautiful illustrations make this a real pleasure to read. Kids will most definitely pick up on the irony of Jack warning those animals about themselves and howl with delight!

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