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Like the Moon and the Stars and the Sun

Maybe making such a big deal of things isn’t always so bad. Sure, we tend to kill ourselves sometimes when we fail to put stuff in perspective, still how often do the obsessions that end up getting us through our days grow out of seemingly insignificant appearances?

That is at least one of the concerns of Nadine Brun-Cosme’s and Olivier Tallec’s Big Wolf and Little Wolf, though this being French and a little inscrutable, you’ll probably need to read between the brush strokes here. I’ve written before about its untidily titled sequel, Big Wolf and Little Wolf, The Little Leaf That Wouldn’t Fall, but the truth is the original had probably crossed my radar before, and I’m not sure I took the time to really notice. On its surface this looks like the sort of innocuous tribute to friendship and mutual understanding that leaves the rest of us feeling a little inadequate, but read it a couple of times through and you might just realize you want to come back, even linger a little amid these rudimentary landscapes and surprising points of view: looking up, down, and faraway over the hills where Little Wolf makes his gradual introduction – “no bigger than a dot” – as Big Wolf is lying around eating an orange and taking a break from his book. The fact of Little Wolf’s unprecedented blueness is oddly no cause for alarm, only the possibility of Little Wolf’s turning out bigger once he has finally and fully emerged.

This takes time, even seasons full of leisurely picnics, and shivery nights, and calisthenic exercises in the top of a tree, and meditative rambling in the wheat field, still it seems to me the force of Big Wolf’s revelation in the end derives from a kind of reticence that we are too often in the habit of mistaking for silence – in picture books, and in our popular culture. These wolves don’t blab, and the metaphorical sight lines here are deeper – more urgent and mysterious – for it. That little blue dot on the horizon may want to eat you or make friends, it may have gotten bigger since the last time you looked up, or it might just be a speck in your eye, but it’s not going to keep circling forever.

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