Airiz C's Reviews > The Wolves in the Walls

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
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Jul 12, 11

bookshelves: children-s-lit, fantasy, horror, gaimanic-disorder
Read in July, 2011

Am I the only one who thought this is a mishmash of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” and the classic wolf-riddled admonitory bedtime stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? The Wolves in the Walls, a collab work by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, is yet another landmark tale that speaks directly to young readers while teaching a few lessons like open communication in the family.

SPOILER-ISH! Basically the story revolves around Lucy (aka the girl who cried wolf), who tells her family about the wolves lurking behind the wallpapers. Her relatives however dismissed her fears as a product of her overactive imagination, and they are actually too engrossed into their own worlds to deal with Lucy: her mother (like any mother) is a personification of domestic order, her oblivious father plays tuba, and her annoying brother plays video games. Nobody believes her…until the wolves do plunge out of the walls, invading the house and rendering the family homeless. Lucy is the one who acts to glue the family together. With a Coralinesque bravery and a simple strategy, she goes back to save her stranded toy, Pig Puppet, and in the process they are able to get their house back.

The characters—at least in the part of the relatives—are reminiscent of the people in The Day I Swapped my Dad with Two Goldfish. The hardnosed heroine reminds me of Coraline, though there are numerous differences between them. It’s a pretty rad read all in all, though of course I’ll appreciate it more if I’m a kid. :p With Lucy hearing those noises, I imagine it striking a chord with a lot of kids, since the very scene embody common fears of a child. There are significant lessons embedded in the storyline as well, making the story weightier.

I’ve learned that this tale is conceived with help from the kids of the Gaiman and McKean. Maddy Gaiman has a nightmare of wolves scratching the walls of their house. Gaiman helped Maddy cope with this fear by storytelling, making strategies to escape from the wolves or something like that—and these plotting became a part of the story. Liam McKean does only a little contribution though, and this is the image of the Pig Puppet. :p I think it’s quite adorable, how they pieced together things from real kids and create something that kids can appreciate. :)
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