Wulfie: Stage Fright - Lindsay J Sedgwick, ill. Josephine Wolff
This lovely little book, written by Irish author LJ Sedgwick, and illustrated (aptly!) by Josephine Wolff, has gone down a storm in my house with my 6-year old son, Finn.
Wulfie tells the tale of Libby (the stereotypical step-sister underdog), with a cast of evil stepmother, bullying stepbrother, over-ruled father (who's also an eccentric inventor), loyal best friend and over-the-top drama teacher alongside. Libby dreams of stepping out of the shadows of her 'perfect' step-sibling, Rex, and in the end succeeds in her ambition to be the star of the show in a school play.
What makes this tale stand out is the inclusion of Wulfie in the story as her sidekick. A 'Wulfen' from another world, with his own personal 'demons' and issues to face, he is able to change size from pocket-friendly to giant proportions. He provides Libby with the courage (both directly and indirectly) to challenge her situation and succeed, and with his comedic threats of appearing at inopportune moments, eating other characters (as well as any smelly socks that he encounters along the way), he was the real star of the show for my young reader, who now wants a Wulfen of his own.
Themes of sticking up for yourself, loyalty, bravery and perseverance resonate in this book, which I'd recommend as a supported read for Y3/4 and independent for Y5/6. Thoroughly enjoyable, with serious messages alongside laugh-out-loud moments, it really is a great twist on the underdog story, with the cast of familiar (fairy-tale type) supporting-role characters alongside. We particularly enjoyed the friendship between the characters, and the final success of Libby over Rex was the icing on the cake (or the caramel on the sundae, to be more true to the book's recurring ice-cream theme!).
I believe there may be more books in the 'Wulfie' series, and we can't wait to see what trouble he gets into next!
Many thanks to Little Island Books for the review copy, and to Lindsay for the very kind letter and bookmark she sent to Finn that absolutely made his day. You now have a fan for life - caught reading by torchlight after bedtime and lights out is a sign of a surefire hit in this house!
Lindsay Sedgwick is on Twitter as @LJSedgwick, and her website is www.lindsayjsedgwick.com
Little Island Books are on Twitter as @LittleIslandBks and their website is www.littleisland.ie
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) September 2020