Wow, was there ever a buzz when I opened the package from Booksellers in class and pulled I Am So Clever out! Previous books by Mario Ramos, I Am So Strong and I Am So Handsome, are firm favourites with my class of 5 and 6 year olds, and are frequently issued to us by the school library. Could the newest title in a series of stories about a boastful, narcissistic wolf live up to our huge expectations? Also, why is Wolf wearing a nightie in the middle of the woods?
As always, the rich vocabulary is a delight. The wolf is bombastic, and it’s wonderful! “Hello, my dear! How fine you look in that delightful outfit,” he greets Little Red Riding Hood. Wolf uses words like vicious, striding, ferocious and splendid which can only enrich the vocabulary of his readers. Even his actions have flair – Wolf squirms, shuffles, eases and slinks. This is the sort of language that makes my teacher heart sing. My students love it too – even if it means that a story is constantly interrupted by either a “What does slunk mean?”-type questions, or by my pre-emptive explanations.
The illustrations are gorgeous and funny, as Ramos’ illustrations always are. The expressions of Wolf, as things just keep going wrong, are brilliant – you don’t have to be able to read the words to know how the story is going for him. And between the text and the illustrations, you get a kick out of pratfalls that, having grown up on Looney Tunes cartoons, I just adore. My class, who are a bit gentler and kinder than I probably was at their age – giggle, but then say things like “That wasn’t very nice,” and “I hope that Wolf will be ok.”
So yes, our high expectations were met. I hope Wolf hasn’t been too humiliated by his latest adventure to retire – we want to read many more stories about him!
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
I am so Clever
by Mario Ramos
Published by Gecko Press