I randomly picked-up Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s collaborated work, The Wolves in the Walls, because it’s a short, full-colored book that I believe my short attention span can handle while reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
I was amazed of how Dave McKean did the illustrations (photography, computer-generated imagery, and drawings) and I’ve turned the pages one by one in awe while touching the pages. It’s very eye-catching and beautifully accompanied the story for a great storytelling experience. The story sort of reminds me of the The Boy Who Cried Wolf and of the big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood (Hah! I just read the unsanitized version of it by Charles Perrault).
The story tells us about Lucy and her family who lives in a sort-of Victorian big old house and every night, she hears noises—hustling, bustling, sneaking, creeping, crumpling, scrambling, rambling, rustling—coming from the insides of the wallpaper/walls. As a child, it’s normal to be curious and have hyperactive imagination but doesn’t mean that adults should just dismiss what the child has in mind. In Lucy’s case, she alarmed her mother, father, and younger brother about the noises she hears behind the wall, but was thought of as nonsense and repeatedly told that there are not wolves there; why would there be wolves in the walls when they can only be found in forests or somewhere that is not a wall. It can only be mice, bats, or other small pest to be living in the walls. After that, they go back to the things they were during that time. [Spoiler ahead!] The funny side of the story was when the night was devoid of any noises that totally bothered Lucy. It’s too silent and creepy then… The wolves came out of the walls! Lucy and her family scrambled out of the house to the gardens and think of where will they live now or what will they do that there are wolves in their house.
Initially, I thought of this story as something disturbing or scary (as other Neil Gaiman’s stories are or Dave McKean’s illustrations are—think of Sandman! The Graveyard Book! Coraline! Mirrormask!) and I was surprised that it was not so; somehow funny, exciting, and enjoyable to read, maybe because of the accompanying illustrations and the texts looks like they’re bouncing across the pages which will make you shift your eyes from left to right, up and down. The story is original and it a good story to tell at bedtime. I found myself chuckling at the last pages of the book! Those wolves are heck funny (or did Dave McKean made the wolves look crazily funny like that?).
I believe this story teaches us the importance of open communication within the family no matter how much busy each other can be. It’s a good story not only for kids but also for adults.
The story was inspired of Neil Gaiman’s daughter, Maddy, when she had a nightmare about wolves in the walls and Neil as a father, helped Maddy to cope up with her fears by this storytelling on how to face the wolves (or her fears). With Dave McKean, his son’s pig puppet was Lucy’s pig puppet in the story :)
You can see this 5-minute short film of the book using the illustrations by Dave McKean: