'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 17 October 2020

Review: Howl

I adore this picture book. Adore it. 

It’s a book for our times right now, but, really it’s a book for all times — for childhood, for life.

In Howl, Maggie is having a bad day. Nothing at all is going right, and I mean nothing. The sun is too bright, her shoes won’t go on and her spaghetti is too long.

Maggie can’t sleep that night either, and as the too-bright moon streaks through her window, all Maggie wants to do is howl.

She slips out her bedroom window into the night to be the wolf she knows is brewing inside her, but the howl she wants to howl out loud just won’t come out.

Inside, Mum sees the too-bright moonlight too. It covers her foot as she looks out the window, and she also decides it’s time to howl. 

Mum shows Maggie how to howl the loudest wolf howl ever. She teaches Maggie how to prowl the night-time of their garden and how to listen with big wolf ears. They dance wildly under the moon and revel in the good feeling of being a wolf. 

All of this adventure and excitement is, of course, a metaphor for feeling trapped and stressed and just wanting to scream (or howl) it all out. Something we’ve all felt a lot of this year in particular. 

Howl is a heart-felt and charming book with so many layers, I predict it’s one that will win many awards and go on to be a classic. It’s one of those picture books that pulls you in so fantastically that you feel all the feels as you read it. 

It’s truly stunning, with deep characterisation and a real and relatable problem wrapped up in a wild adventure. Kat Patrick, you are a master of words. I adore wild wolf Maggie and I adore her mother who sees that her daughter is struggling and comes outside to show her how to let her inner wolf howl when things get tough.

Evie Barrow, you too are a master. The illustrations in this book add so much to the story, it’s hard to describe their brilliance. The cover gives you a sneak peak, and that gorgeous blue repeats throughout the book. Oh, how I love that blue. 

But the best part of the illustrations, for me, comes when Maggie starts to feel wolfy about halfway through the book. A strange grey shadow starts to grow behind her. It grows as she heads outside to reveal pointy ears, big feet, big claws and a bushy tail. 

I’m sure you can guess what I’m alluding to, but I don’t feel I’m giving anything away because you really have to see these stunning illustrations to feel their true power. 

I highly, highly recommend grabbing a copy of this picture book. Howl is the perfect combination of adventure and charm, and a faultless pairing of author and illustrator. It’s a gem to be savoured for a very long time and a helpful tool for the right now of our lives. 

Need more Kat Patrick? Of course you do! Check out Doodle Cat is Bored. More Evie Barrow? Try I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me and Bronte: Me and my Boots.

Title: Howl
Author: Kat Patrick
Illustrator: Evie Barrow
Publisher: Scribe, $24.99  
Publication Date: 4 August 2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925849806
For ages: 3 - 6
Type: Picture Book