When a job opening for a Big Bad Wolf suddenly opens up, Karl the sheep decides to apply. But he’s barely slipped on the wolf’s skin when he starts to change before his friends’ very eyes, becoming perhaps a bit more wolf (and a lot more bully) than anyone expected.
Bettina Wegenast tells her fractured fairy tale of a “sheep in wolf’s clothing” in a style that’s at once quirky and profound, with the simple, expressive strokes of Katharina Busshoff’s black-and-white drawings perfectly complementing each page of text.
In the following illustrated excerpt from the book, Karl and Locke discover that sometimes the clothes really do make the man — or, in this case, the sheep . . . or is it the wolf?
* * *
The dwarf rummaged in his papers. “Probation period for a Wolf . . . Aha, found it. Probationary period for a Wolf . . . well . . . shall we say the day after tomorrow? That should be long enough to see whether you’re up to the job.”
He pulled a large cardboard box off a shelf. “So. Here’s your equipment. Better see whether it actually fits you.” In the box was a tangled heap of black fur. He pulled it out and gave it a shake.
“First of all, the wolf suit.” He coughed briefly and draped it over Karl’s back. “Well, the fur’s a bit dusty, but otherwise it’s in excellent condition.”
He then tried to fit Karl into the coat, not entirely successfully.
“If you could just pull your tummy in a bit . . .”
“That’s not my tummy. I’ve just got a thick fleece,” protested Karl.
“Well, if you could kindly just pull your thick fleece in a bit . . .” The dwarf finally took a step back and examined his handiwork. “Ah well. It’ll do. Give it a day or two, and it’ll fit you like a glove. And now . . . your teeth.”
Karl pressed his lips together. “I don’t need new teeth. There’s nothing wrong with my teeth, thank you very much,” he hissed.
The dwarf looked at him, amused. “I’m sorry, but you have no choice. The arrangement of a wolf ’s teeth is tried and true. If you don’t mind . . .” With one quick movement he forced Karl’s jaws apart, and just as rapidly shoved a set of razor-sharp teeth into his mouth.
“So, give me a growl.”
“Grr . . .” Karl coughed and cleared his throat, then he tried a cautious growl. Quietly at first, then more loudly. “Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!”
The dwarf seemed satisfied. “Well, that’s pretty good. Now do a howl.”
Karl cleared his throat. “Aooo!” he said.
“Not quite. Take a deep breath, open your mouth wide, and breathe out slowly.”
Karl closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Awowow . . .”
“Better already. Now imagine a dark night. Scraps of cloud are skimming across the sky. The full moon is casting its pale light on the earth . . .”
Karl took another deep breath, breathed out slowly, and this time it sounded like a proper wolf ’s howl. “Aoooowowow!”
A shiver ran down Locke’s thick, fuzzy fleece. “Karl, stop it,” he said pitifully. “You’re scaring me.”
“Fantastic,” said the dwarf. “Go for it!”
The dwarf was very impressed. “That really is very promising. You’re a quick learner. Well, that’s everything. We’ll reconvene the day after tomorrow. In the meantime, you can have your first crack at being the Wolf. Show us what you’re made of.”
Click here to order Big Bad Sheep, written by Bettina Wegenast and illustrated by Katharina Busshof.