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Virginia Wolf

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,897 ratings  ·  331 reviews
Vanessa's sister, Virginia, is in a "wolfish" mood --- growling, howling and acting very strange. It's a funk so fierce, the whole household feels topsy-turvy. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work. Then Virginia tells Vanessa about an imaginary, perfect place called Bloomsberry. Armed with an idea, Vanessa begins to paint Blo ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Kids Can Press (first published 2011)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,897 ratings  ·  331 reviews

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Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hilary by: Found in the library
Vanessa's sister, Virginia wakes up feeling wolfish and the day goes badly which days can when a sibling is feeling that way. Vanessa coaxes Virginia from her bad mood by painting a world called Bloomsbury and by giving her sister a creative outlet, brings peace and happiness, allowing them to be happy girls and go outside to play. Beautiful illustrations from a very talented artist whom I hope never suffers from feeling wolfish !
David Schaafsma
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this chiefly because I have begun to follow the illustrator Isabelle Arsenault and have read a few of her picture books (Jane, The Fox & Me; Emily Dickinson: My Letter to the World; Collette's Lost Pet; Louis Undercover) and I am kind of crazy for her artwork. You see a pattern here, too, of her working with writers who like to (sometimes very loosely) base their books on writers/artists.

Virginia Wolf is a story about a little girl named Virginia who wakes up feeling "wolfish," but whose
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book! The illustrations are to die for! What I especially love about Maclear is that she takes subjects that are of interest to adults, and makes them so kid friendly. She makes me want to write a children's book! This particular book alludes to the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell, and their imaginary travels to "Bloomsberry." Sounds A LOT like Bloomsbury, and I love it!

I don't usually buy picture books, but I need this one in my life. I can't
Britta Böhler
Read for the Reading Women Challenge 2020: a book under 100 pages
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, picture
I'm not sure how much of this book kids would get/like, but it is awesome.

Loosely based on British author Virginia Woolf's relationship with her older sister, modernest painter Vanessa Bell, what I appreciate and love first and foremost about Virginia Wolf is how author Kyo Maclear depicts and describes both a lovely and tender picture of sisterly love and affection (even when one of the sisters, when Virginia, is acting grumpy and even totally in a stand-offish and wolfish manner) and furthermore that she (that Kyo Maclear) also gently but not ever didactically intro ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Isabelle Arsenault Fans / Anyone Looking for Children's Stories About Depression
"One day my sister Virginia woke up feeling wolfish," the young narrator of this creative picture-book exploration of childhood emotion begins, going on to describe her sister's terrible mood, and her own efforts to do something to cheer her up. Eventually, it is the narrator's beautiful painting that leads Virginia to a better state of mind...

Apparently inspired by celebrated author Virginia Wolff and her painter-sister, Vanessa Bell, Kyo Maclear's narrative in Virginia Wolf offers a sensitive
Kaethe Douglas
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Vanessa's sister Virginia acts like a wolf. I have no idea if kids would like this, but as someone who admires/sorrows for Woolf, I think the extended metaphor really works. Poor woman.


Library copy.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Virginia awakens one morning feeling not quite . . . herself.

Can her sister, Vanessa, pull her out of her blue funk?

This is a lovely book that makes me want to paint flowers on my walls.

Randie D. Camp, M.S.
I have been looking forward to the release of this book and it most certainly lived up to my expectations.

Vanessa is a young, cheerful girl with a sister, Virginia. Virginia hasn't been herself lately...she feels "wolfish" instead. When Virginia is "wolfish", she makes strange sounds, stays in bed, scares away her friends, doesn't enjoy the things that usually make her feel happy, is bothered by the slightest bit of noise, and just wants to be left alone. Vanessa is very supportive of her sister
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
If I were able to give this book separate ratings for the story and the illustrations I would give a solid 3 stars and 5 stars respectively.

I had concerns similar to those stated by some of the other reviewers. My primary concern being that the reference to Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell will go over the heads of most children. Secondly, but possibly more alarmingly, the author describes Virgina's experience as a bad mood. Obviously, what plagued the real Virginia Woolf was a much d
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated story of Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Woolf as two young girls. Virginia wakes up feeling wolfish, and her sister paints a beautiful garden for Virginia to help Virginia feel better. "Wolfish" felt like a way to talk about depression.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What an odd but awesome little book. Loosely based on the life of Virginia Woolf, this book has a little something for adults and children. Fans of the real-life author will enjoy the references to her life, and children can enjoy this story about sisterhood, overcoming sadness and constructing your own reality - one that will make you happy. The illustrations are unusual and yet remind you of childhood in an intangible sort of way.

I've seen other picture books loosely based on the lives of adul
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Virginia is having a sad day, her sister tried to change that. Richly illustrated from gray tones to gorgeous florals, it changes the mood of the reader, as well. Being a big fan of Virginia Woolf, I loved this children's version of the heavy sadness Mz Woolf lived with and how her sister, Vanessa so often tried to alleviate that. It's a good story/moral for kids to see how they can help a friend who is feeling down by bringing happiness to them, listening to nuances and acting on them. Sharing ...more
As an adult, it is difficult to separate the inspiration for this book--based on the lives of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell-- from the picture book text. I doubt many (OK, any) young readers would recognize the references to Virginia's depression and her sister's painting.

Judging the picture book on its own, the story is average. Beautiful illustrations, though.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, isa-rw-2020
Beautifully ilustrated and a lovely story!
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
When her sister Virginia falls into a very bad mood, Vanessa tries to cheer her up. After Virginia indicates that perhaps traveling to Bloomsberry might cheer her up, her sister uses her artistic talent to create that perfect place that Virginia has imagined. Virginia is intrigued by the beautiful world her sister has created, but in the light of day, she realizes that it is not as perfect as she had first thought. The mixed media illustrations, using ink, pencil, watercolor, and gouache, are be ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I admit I was intrigued by both the title and cover on this one. My curiosity about how this related to Virginia Woolf had to be satisfied!

Virginia Wolf is an inventive, beautiful book. The cover provides a peak at the exceptional, lovely illustrations throughout the book. The story follows sisters Virginia (Woolf) and Vanessa (Bell) as Virginia begins her day by acting very "wolfish." In fact, she's grumpy and surly and clearly suffering from a serious case of the doldrums. Vanessa uses her cr
Children have bad moods, they have emotions that swing on a large pendulum, and anyone who has ever encountered a two-year old tantrum thrower will understand that it is part of them. Few will grow up to have the mental issues that Virginia Wolf faces, but these strong emotions are pretty universal.

How do we treat the kids around us who do have these strong emotions? In this picture book Vanessa has a number of suggestions for ameliorating her sister's ill temper, from music to food. What works
Nov 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-and-ya, fiction
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's a sweet story about one sister cheering up her grumpy sibling with compassion, patience, and creativity. On the other hand, because the book alludes to Virginia Woolf (also, Vanessa Bell and Bloomsbury) it's also alluding to mental illness and suicidal despair. Even though children won't know that, I feel the book inadvertently suggests that if you can't cure a loved one's depression, you're just not wonderful enough -- not the kind of ide ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is everything you want in a picture book--that is, a work of art that can be enjoyed meaningfully by children or adults. For children, it's a magical fantasy about empathy, sisters, and the potential to change a rotten day. For adults, it's a darkly beautiful homage to Virginia Woolf, a realistic portrait of melancholy and a meditation on how to help a depressed loved one.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I believe a child who has encountered someone with depression would understand the wolfish side of Virginia. Others might find it odd, but I found it enchanting. Is there a Kyo Maclear book that I do not like? Are there illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault that don't enchant me? I am confident the answer to both questions is no.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully wolfish, Woolfish, and strange. Love this team.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book brought light to my soul.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Every time I read this, I cry. Even when I am reading it aloud to twenty kids at story time.
Lulu Ali
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is so important!!
This is a really important picture book, it subtly covers such big themes and reminds us that we all have 'wolfish' days. The important thing is to move beyond them with the help and support of family and friends.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gorgeous picture book looks at the relationship between 2 sisters, and the depression of one affects the whole household until the other sister creates an imaginary world for them to be happy in. The allusion to Virginia Wolf and her sister Vanessa adds an extra layer of meaning for adult readers. Superb illustrations and a lovely gentle story about a very real problem.
I would actually give this one 3.5 stars because while the idea, concept, and story were excellent, the actual implementation of it just seemed to be missing something.

I thought the illustrations were beautiful and the story line of trying to help someone who is feeling down and depressed feel better was lovely. The fact that the girls were sisters was perfect. The book was just missing that special 'something' that would knock the ball out of the park. I do think the story is still an excellen
Virginia wakes up in a terrible mood and her sister, Vanessa, tries to lift her spirits. After trying a few simple activities, Vanessa gives up and decides to create a glorious painting of flowers. Vanessa recovers from the doldrums and the sisters once again enjoy their cheerful friendship.

I also enjoyed the illustrations and found them a good compliment to the mood and text of the story. The shadows and use of darker illustrations are especially effective in depicting Virginia's wolfish mood.
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Kyo Maclear is a children’s author, novelist and essayist. She was born in London, England and moved to Toronto at the age of four.

Kyo is the author of several critically-acclaimed children’s books including: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012), both illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; Mr. Flux (2013), illustrated by Matte Stephens; Julia, Child (2014), illustrated by Julie Morstad; The Specific

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In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
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“If I were flying, I would travel to a perfect place. A place with frosted cakes and beautiful flowers and excellent trees to climb and absolutely no doldrums.” 12 likes
“One day my sister Virginia woke up feeling wolfish. She made wolf SOUNDS and did strange things...” 5 likes
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