BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Betsy Who Cried Wolf! by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Scott Nash

Betsy Who Cried WolfPossibly best known for her award-winning, mega bestselling Ella Enchanted (the book, by the way, is far better than the film, ahem!), Gail Carson Levine is certainly not unfamiliar with rewriting, re-spinning fairy tales. This one – not unlike “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – seems to have gone rather unnoticed when it debuted in 2002, but is probably about to get back on the shelves with the recent debut of its companion, Betsy Red Hoodie (post above), which although eight years later, picks up Betsy’s adventures as if only a year has passed …

Betsy has just turned 8. She’s just taken the “Shepherd’s Oath,” and is determined “to be the best shepherd in Bray Valley history.” While she’s sleeping soundly in her cozy room above her mother’s delicious bakery, out on Rosenrise Mountain, Zimmo howls out his lonely, hungry song. He’s hatching a Plan to trick the shepherd and farmers alike.

While Betsy has her fluffy herd out the next morning – and wow, do those woolballs keep up the entertaining wise-cracks on every page – Zimmo makes his first appearance. But he’s gone by the time Betsy blows her whistle to bring the farmers rushing to help. Twice Zimmo escapes notice by the tardy farmers, and Betsy ends up back at Shepherd School, writing out her detention. Given one last chance, Betsy’s out in the fields again … and when she meets Zimmo once more, she finds out that her mother’s pies are really what he’s after. Once sated, Zimmo proves to be quite a helpful friend … not to mention, quite a responsible shepherd, as well!

I don’t know what legendary fairy-tale interpreter and child psychologist Bruno Bettleheim (The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales which no good lit crit class goes without!) might have had to say about Levine’s latest tall-tale interpretations – even distortions – but a story of a young girl brokering friendship between natural-born enemies with pie is certainly a tasty literary treat!

Readers: Children

Published: 2002


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