Oh, to be an outlier. To bust the chains that tether us. To eschew the mundane and embrace the wild!
The new book by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrated by Anca Sanda, Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon, explores this scenario. Lana Lynn, a young sheep that wants a little more than her friend Shawn wants. Spending every day grazing, and sipping water from the stream, and napping, well “Fiddle-dee-dee, that’s not for me,” says Lana Lynn. She dreams of something more exciting. She wants to stay up late, to run through the wild woods, to howl at the moon. And truly, don’t we all?
One night as the flock snores, a sleepless Lana Lynn tiptoes past her friend Shawn and the other sheep and steps into the night. She discovers a perfect disguise at the shepherd’s hut, dons it and heads into the wild woods!
Once in the woods she sees a lot of yellow eyes and sharp white teeth. A pack of wolves who mistake her for one of their own thanks to the disguise. They invite her to run through the woods, stay up late and howl at the moon with them. Which she does. Enthusiastically.
But when the wolves insist she come back to their cave and have dinner with them, well…things get awkward. What’s on the menu? Squirrel? Rabbit? Her friend, Shawn?
WAIT—Her friend Shawn???
Sanda’s simple graphic illustrations are rendered digitally and are wonderful. I’m tempted to use the word adorable, but I think that would take away from the strength of her art. The line work looks like it could have been done with a pointed stick dipped in ink. And I mean that in the best of ways. I have line envy. The colors she uses are big and flat and saturated and primarily in greens and blues. Lana Lynn’s world and the wolves’ world, in their overstated simplicity, are just about perfect for this story, bringing the characters front and foremost
I don’t know if this is a tale about being careful what you wish for, or the grass is always greener, or something completely different. What I am sure of, is it is a fun romp through the woods and back again with a character that wants more out of life and pursues it. A lesson in exploring our “wild.” And we learn that sometimes the “wild” may not be in our wheelhouse. But the process of discovering that can be kind of fun, too.