hiding from life can lead to underestimating our own power—a funny, clever story with an important message

Only boring creatures get bored.
— The Cave

Because we all have our metaphorical caves and wolves—and actual triumphs and fears—this is a tale that will resonate with adults and children. And make both giggle with delighted relief.

It’s the story of a ‘little creature’ who lives in a cave and refuses to come out because there is a wolf who never leaves the entrance.

The wolf cajoles, entices and begs, but ‘the little creature stays home.’

In the end, it’s a doughnut that does the trick—that or the fact that the little creature has hibernated for long enough and is feeling hungry.

The creature comes out—to play, we’re told. But the wolf is shocked to discover who the creature really is and dives into the cave for safety. And there it stays, in spite of the enticings of the ‘little’ creature.

The power in this book lies in its humour and surprise, its graphic and gorgeous illustrations and most of all in the depth of its connection with everyday life. It’s full of profound life lessons, taught with wit and without smugness, making it brilliant bedtime reading.

A few of those life lessons:

Refusing to leave our comfort zone can cause us to underestimate our own strength and power and overestimate the impact of scary or negative events.

The little creature stays in its cave out of fear, and is comfortable with that choice, replying to the wolf's admonition “I’m sure we’d be VERY good friends" with "No, thank you … I already have two friends.”

The wolf comes up with all sorts of enticements (climb a tree, play ball, feed the birds etc). That's a lot for the creature to miss out on, and readers will probably identify with missing out on personal opportunities out of fear.

The creature’s decision to remain is not entirely without merit—the wolf is certainly of nefarious intent. Yet, there’s a sense from the very beginning that it has power and strength unknown to the wolf, and the story works as a friendly invitation to test out personal power, to embrace life and overcome fear.

Obsessing over a future event that seems to carry great promise (or peril) can lead us to miss out on many good things in life.

The wolf becomes completely driven to persuade the little creature to emerge from the cave.

Storms and seasons pass and still the wolf remains. All sorts of joys are missing from the wolf’s life as everything becomes merely a tool to lure the creature out of the cave.

In the end, the wolf swaps places with the creature and it's the creature trying to lure the wolf out of the cave—with equally nefarious intent. For both wolf and creature, nothing has really changed. Instead of being outside the cave, the wolf is now inside the cave, and vice versa for the creature. But that is simply a change in circumstances. Both remain the primary feature in each other’s lives.

Their obsessions have become their lives, and so much else has been forfeited. How much more fulfilling to enjoy life as it comes.

Everything is relative’ (to quote Trotsky out of context).

The ‘little’ creature turns out to be quite big, relative to the wolf— not at all the potential dinner the wolf had in mind. And, just as everything is physically relative, so are worries, heartaches and stresses.

The fear the creature has is big enough to keep it in the cave but not big enough to overcome hunger and a doughnut. The wolf’s bravado is also relative—plenty big enough to cope with a ‘little’ creature, but not with the fully revealed creature.

This is a tremendously fun book, and fun has to be the very best way to start thinking about some of life’s most important self discoveries. I’m sure you’ll love it.

For more on fear: The Darkest Dark
For more on letting go of expectations: Good News Bad News
For more on relativity: You Are (Not) Small

Amazon  -  Book Depository

Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

by Rob Hodgson – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2017
ages  2 to 8 years/ picture books + emotional resilience, funny