Reviews /

Wolves in Helicopters

Authored by Sarah Tagholm
Illustrated by Paddy Donnelly
Published by Andersen Press Ltd

Hop is a small rabbit who has regular nightmares involving increasing numbers of wolves that wake her feeling trembling and cold. To begin with, there are hundreds, and by the end of the book there are millions. Her mother offers her ideas to counteract them: burrow deeper, fly higher, frighten them into another dream – but nothing works. The wolves have spades, can run faster, charter helicopters. The solution is that she is in control and can tell them that they are not doing the dream correctly, they agree and she chases them…. on a hoverboard.

I am very much in two minds about this book.  Yes, the solution is amusing, and for children who do not have regular nightmares I suspect an enjoyable text – the notion of wolves in helicopters and rabbits on hoverboards is amusing -but I am not sure I ever felt in control of a nightmare as a child. I am also concerned that this book could be used as sticking plaster:  you had a bad dream, read a book and you’ll feel better. Could it make small children more fearful about bedtime? Possibly.

That said, handled sensitively it could provoke useful and reassuring discussion that nightmares are normal and that thinking of better solutions to them when you wake trembling and cold might be a coping strategy. There is repetitive and patterned language which allows young children to predict and join in. The illustrations reflect the menacing tone of the text and there is a clear indication of movement as the wolves circle the poor unfortunate Hop.  Alternatively, it might be an amusing way into discussion with older children.

Longlisted for the 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration