Written and Illustrated by Sarah Finan
Published by Quarto Kids ISBN: 978-1-78603-010-8
Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster
Sarah Finan is an artist who isn’t afraid to be direct and expressive in the application of her brushwork. This approach has led to the creation of a rough and ready picture book that is cheeky, scrappy and fun. The characterization of the wolves is somewhat reminiscent of Bob Godfrey’s frenetic animation and the elevated locations contain textures that are evocative of the very best aquatint etchings.
A cool blue wrap around cover shows Erik sitting on the pinnacle of a mountain looking off into the distance. His mind is always somewhere else, never on where he is. He wears a vivid red scarf, might this set him apart from the others in his pack or does it bind him to the collective?
Erik is a young wolf who goes against his nature, or so it seems. He shirks his responsibilities to the pack and can only find energy for pushing at the boundaries. His attitude is driven by some powerful impulses, could these be his undoing? A determined Erik sets out to find a way to assert his individuality.
This story is a coming of age drama. It explores a child’s desire to push at the limits set by those in authority in order to find themselves a place in the world. Erik is ready to write his own story he can’t wait for his freedom. He desperately wishes to leave the ordinary world behind him. However, with freedom comes responsibility…
Finan treats us to some fine, intimate and considered spreads that are a visual treat. The applications of her trees are of particular note. The text helps the story flow, the hand-rendered style of the font goes well with the artwork. Her spare palette, the subtle mark making with its specific sense of place and space completes the appeal of this book. I found myself asking myself what other scrapes might Erik get himself into?