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The Wolves in the Walls [Hardcover]

Neil Gaiman , Dave McKean
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 2005

Lucy hears sneaking, creeping,crumpling noisescoming from insidethe walls.

She is sure there arewolves living in the wallsof her house.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

Truth be told, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's picture book The Wolves in the Walls is terrifying. Sure, the story is fairytale-like and presented in a jaunty, casually nonsensical way, but it is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. Lucy hears wolves hustling, bustling, crinkling and crackling in the walls of the old house where her family lives, but no one believes her. Her mother says it's mice, her brother says bats, and her father says what everyone seems to say: "If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over." Lucy remains convinced, as is her beloved pig-puppet, and her worst fears are confirmed when the wolves actually do come out of the walls.

Up to this point, McKean's illustrations are spectacular, sinister collages awash in golden sepia tones evocative of the creepy beauty in The City of Lost Children. The wolves explode into the story in scratchy pen-and-ink, all jaws and eyes. The family flees to the cold, moonlit garden, where they ponder their future. Her brother suggests they escape to outer space where there's "nothing but foozles and squossucks for billions of miles". Lucy wants to live in her own house...and she wants the pig-puppet she left behind.

Eventually she talks her family into moving back into the once-wolfish walls, where they peek out at the wolves who are watching their television and spilling popcorn on slices of toast and jam, dashing up the stairs and wearing their clothes. When the family can't stand it anymore, they burst forth from the walls, scaring the wolves, who shout "And when the people come out of the walls, it's all over!" The wolves flee and everything goes back to normal...until the tidy ending when Lucy hears "a noise that sounded exactly like an elephant trying not to sneeze". Adult fans of this talented pair will revel in the quirky story and its darkly gorgeous, deliciously shadowy trappings, but the young or faint of heart, beware. The book is recommended for ages nine and above. --Karin Snelson, Amazon.com --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-Lucy hears sounds in her house and is certain that the "sneaking, creeping, crumpling" noises coming from inside the walls are wolves. Her parents and her brother know "if the wolves come out-, it's all over," and no one believes that the creatures are there-until they come out. Then the family flees, taking refuge outside. It is Lucy who bravely returns to rescue her pig puppet and who talks the others into forcing the animals to leave. Gaiman and McKean deftly pair text and illustrations to convey a strange, vivid story evolving from a child's worst, credible fear upon hearing a house creak and groan. Glowing eyes and expressive faces convey the imminent danger. This rather lengthy picture book displays the striking characteristics of a graphic novel: numerous four-panel pages opening into spreads that include painted people; scratchy ink-lined wolves; and photographed, computer-manipulated images. Children will delight in the "scary, creepy tone" and in the brave behavior displayed by the intrepid young heroine.
Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! Oct. 10 2003
I discovered Neil Gaiman in the airport bookstore on a recent business trip. I became a convert after reading the first few pages of "American Gods". What a delight it was to find that my newest, favoritest author also writes children's books. ...
Parents beware, this book is scarier for adults than it is for kids. Adults remember the things that scared them at night, in a distorted sort of way. Creatures living in the walls seems to be one of those things that might have given us nightmares when we were kids. However, for me, the scariest part wasn't the wolves themselves, but the unsettling notion that there was so much space behind the walls. What other things might live in the invisible spaces of our homes? <Shiver....>
Despite my own perspective of the story, my ... son admires Lucy's courage. You see, you cannot tell a story about overcoming your fears without the idea of "fear" itself. WitW delivers just enough fear to compel the reader. The ending is light-hearted and fun, so make sure your children read the book to its completion.
The illustrations are top-notch and really compliment the mood of the story well. They are a little unsettling, to be sure, but I also remember how I loved the terrifying illustrations in "Where the Wild Thigs Are" as a child.
Creepy, funny, and heroic, WitW is destined to become a classic picture book. ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman and McKean spin another exciting tale Aug. 20 2003
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. Often working in the realms of science fiction and fantasy in his writing for "adults," Gaiman has successfully carried his creativity, masterful storytelling, respect for his audience, and of course, his charming British wit, into his children's stories. Following "The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish," and "Coraline," Gaiman brings children and adults alike an adventurous tale in "The Wolves in the Walls."
Our heroine, Lucy, is convinced that wolves live in the walls of her house. Her mum, dad, and brother brush off her assertions, until the wolves finally come out. Driven from the house, Lucy takes it upon herself to solve her family's dilemma.
The best thing about Neil Gaiman as a children's author is his clear respect for kids. He knows kids aren't stupid, and his stories make children the heroes, using their unique point of view to conquer their own fears and rescue their loved ones. Lucy in "Wolves" is no exception: she's definitely a kid - she consults with her pig puppet frequently - but she's not helpless - she saves the day in the end.
Gaiman's longtime collaborator, Dave McKean, makes this story truly special. His unique artistic notions have made him famous in the comic book world (especially for his cover art for Gaiman's "Sandman" series) and his work in "Wolves," covering a wide range of styles, makes this story visually exciting.
The vivid story and art might scare the youngest of children, but nobody is put in real danger, and most children (and adults, too!) will find this exciting tale a pleasure to read aloud.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lucy is a character every reader will love. July 1 2004
Lucy knows that there are wolves living in the walls of her house. She can hear them hustling and bustling, creeping and crumpling. She tries to warn her family, but no one believes her. "You have an overactive imagination," says her father. "You must be hearing mice, I suppose," says her mother. "Bats," says her brother. Lucy however knows better, and everyone who's anyone knows that when the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over.
When the wolves do come out of the walls, as Lucy has told everyone they would, her family doesn't know what to do. They take up residency at the bottom of their garden, and while they're debating as to whether to live in a hot-air balloon or a tree house, Lucy decides to confront the wolves and reclaim the family's house.
Don't be fooled by the picture-book format; this is most definitely a book for older readers. The many different art techniques, from photo collages to paintings to pen-and-ink drawings, give a bizarre air to the book, yet it's one that is effective due to the quirky nature of Lucy's story.
Lucy is a character every reader will love: she is resilient, brave and thoughtful, and she does not tolerate anyone or anything terrorizing her family. Her attitude toward getting the wolves out of her house is inspiring and ingenious, because everyone who's anyone knows that when the people come out of the walls, it's all over.
--- (...)
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's all over Feb. 6 2004
It's too beautiful to be a children's book. Inspired by a nightmare of one of his daughter's, author Neil Gaiman has developed a wonderful terrifying tale. Lucy can hear wolves in the walls of her home. She's quite certain of what she's hearing, but her family doesn't seem to believe her. When the wolves come out, it is (as the family has always said) all over. Lucy must find a way for her family to retake their home from the nasty, jam-eating, video game playing, tuba thumping wolves.
The pairing of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean on this book is inspired. Gaiman has often said in interviews that he sees this book less as a picture book and more as a graphic novel. The distinction is slight. In some cases the pages are separated into four panels (something you'd see in a comic book and not, necessarily, a story for children). But I disagree with Mr. Gaiman. This is a picture book and it shows. McKean has taken Gaiman's wonderfully twisted tale and created pictures that combine such a huge amount of different media, it could blow your mind. A single panel might have a gigantic wolf drawn in pen and ink with photos of socks on its feet and fabric beneath him for the bed.
Is the story too scary for children? Well, sure. For some children. I'm not going to grab the your two year-old and force them to read it. But kids with a healthy sense of humor and intelligence will like this book. It will not give them nightmares. It will not make them afraid of wolves for the rest of their little lives. But it will peak their interest and curiosity. I recommend it. It's a one in a million book.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Frightening Before 10 or 11 Years
Agree with much of the statements made in other reviews, however I had to rate this book below average simply because the outlines provided failed to emphasize the care needed to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Gemmell
5.0 out of 5 stars The noises were coming from inside the walls
The world of Neil Gaiman is a weird, unsettling, whimsical place where strange things are lurking just under the surface... and yes, that includes his kids' books. Read more
Published 7 months ago by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible for Reading Aloud
This book could not be better for reading aloud with an audience of children. The varied characters make coming up with voices oddly simple, and the wide-eyes and gasps from the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mindy Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual feast!
Neil Gaiman writes wonderful books for children with very sophisticated illustrations that I love! He uses many different art techniques, photo montages, collages, pen-and-ink... Read more
Published on April 5 2009 by Sue Hirst
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary & Funny
Lucy is scared, she hears wolves in the walls but her family doesn't believe her. Each one suggests what it might be and then says anyways if it was wolves "then it's all over". Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2009 by Nicola Mansfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Seal of approval
Wolves in the Walls is what is called a sophisticated picture book- one that appeals to readers who think they're too old or too cool for picture books. Read more
Published on May 28 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Being Stalked
Neil Gaiman writes really spooky kid's books. If you like stories that make you see things in your peripheral vision in the dark shadows of your room at night, he's the man to look... Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Michael J. Vuolo
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy for the artwork alone
Gaiman and McKean team up once again on yet another highly stylish, atmospheric children's offering with "The Wolves in the Walls. Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Sibelius
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a really creepy book and I like creepy books
Whitney Wolves in the Walls
By Neil Gaiman
I would rate this book a four stars.
If you like creepy things this book is for you. Read more
Published on April 7 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars I love the illustrations!
The wolves in the walls
This author and illustrator make a great team!
I rate this book three stars because... Read more
Published on April 7 2004
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