Peter & the wolf by Gavin Friday. Illus. by Bono

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Gavin Friday, a singer/songwriter, is friends with Bono from the band U2, and together they have collaborated on a modern retelling of Peter and the Wolf, written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. Told in graphic novel format, this version is sure to be a hit with children with its punk rock hero Peter who has a mohawk hairdo and is dressed in a black singlet and tight black jeans. Peter is mourning the death of his mother and his grandfather tells him not to go into the woods as there is a wolf roaming around. But Peter is a determined young boy and armed with a sling shot, a make-believe wolf and a lasso goes into the woods to capture the creature.

The black and white illustrations are compelling. Readers will need to take notice of details to work out some of what is happening. For example, they will learn what happened to Peter’s mother by examining the page which has photographs of her and will be able to work out why Peter is so unhappy and why he is living with his grandfather.

Gavin introduces the book as Gavin Flyday, a winged Master of Ceremonies and tells readers that he will pop in and out of the book and they need to keep an eye out for him. He is on the page where he introduces the characters in the book and pops up at other crucial moments and I found myself revisiting the book to try and find him. In the final pages, the reader learns that the collaboration was in aid of Irish Hospice Foundation and that Gavin hopes ‘that this version of Peter and the Wolf becomes a balm for any child dealing with loss.’

Readers may wish to see the animated film, official movie trailer here and there are many versions of the music and words of the original to be found on YouTube.

Themes: Grief, Wolves.

Pat Pledger