Book Review: Silly Wolf Chinese Comic Series《笨狼的故事》

Silly Wolf series comes in two forms – firstly a cute story book  ( 注音版 / bridging book, with Hanyu pinyin), and secondly a comic book series (漫画 / comic book, with no Hanyu pinyin).   Both are by popular Chinese author, Tang Su Lan 汤素兰.  This review is specifically about the Silly Wolf Comic series.

  • Series name:  Silly Wolf Chinese Comic Series 笨狼的故事
  • Author:  Tang Su Lan汤素兰
  • Number of books in set:  12
  • Number of lines per page:  5 – 14
  • Number of pages per book:  156
  • Total length of each book:   ~ 12,000 characters
  • Characters required by child to read it independently:  ~1400
  • Pinyin: No
  • Bilingual: No
  • Available in Singapore NLB: No
  • Original language of publication:  Simplified Chinese
  • Audio available:  No
  • Suggested ages:  8+ for independent reading
  • First publication date: 2019

Synopsis of Silly Wolf Comic Series 笨狼的故事

Silly Wolf is a good-humoured Chinese comic (I hesitate to call them a graphic novel, and they’re a combination of several short stories).  They’re very good for a reluctant reader, or a Dogman connoisseur.   The Silly Wolf series was first written in the 1990s, but the comics were not published until 2017.   This comic series follows the same stories as the original storybooks, but now all in comic form.

The series is about a silly little wolf and his friends in the forest (being a pig, rabbit, duck, bear, good and more) getting up to everyday adventures, including a lot of mischief.   The series has been paralleled in Chinese media as being similar to AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.  Whilst I wouldn’t make these claim, I include this here to demonstrate the series is very “clean”.  

Author Tang Su Land has written more than 60 different literary works for children, and won numerous coveted awards for his works in Mainland China.   His most famous works include this one ‘The Story of Sill Wolf’ along with ‘The Little Witch is Beautiful’, ‘The Elf in the Arttric’ and ‘The Red Shoes’.

Why a parent will like the series?

  • Clean humour (It’s hard to find engaging graphic novels without toilet humour, but this is one of them)
  • Will keep a reluctant reader turning the pages
  • No pinyin (it’s hard to find simpler books without this)
  • Meaningful short stories (the author has written them with a purpose)

The author tells an interesting story about one time when he was doing a meet-the-author session in a local kindergarten in China, when a child in the class afterward came up to him in tears (shepherded by a teacher) to ask him why the silly wolf could not become smart in the series. The author apparently then shared the Chinese idiom ‘Great wisdom is as stupid as a fool’ (大智若愚). An approximate English translation of this would be ‘still water runs deep’.  That’s why I like this series. 

The Silly Wolf is honest and kind – yes he isn’t the smartest thinker and people try to trick him – but he has tenacity, a big heart, and a childlike curiosity which gets him through every situation.  In a world where children are rapidly losing their sense of play, it’s nice to have a book whose main character has so many attributes that we should be encouraging in our children, whatever their academic ability.

Why a child will like the series?

  • Graphic novel format (not too much test on each page)
  • Bright and expressive pictures
  • Very simple words but an enjoyable story
  • Each set consists of several short stories/dialogues, and it doesn’t build into something bigger, so it’s easy for a child who struggles with language to start/stop/take a break, without having to catch up on the story which they may have forgotten.  Also great for quick silent readin at school.

In most Western children’s books, wolves (and foxes) are portrayed as cunning and mean.  The author wrote this book to counteract that impression and present a wolf who is cute, kind, and not-so-smart. 

Silly Wolf Chinese comic series

Where to buy the Silly Wolf comic series

If in Singapore, we’re seen it at Play Le Xue and also Kang Kang Children’s Book Store. Maha Yuyi appears to stock only the storybook version, not the comic version

Outside of Singapore, you’ll need to google for the best price wherever you are, but Taobao and JD are certain to have it. Here’s a picture of what all the books look like if you’re trying to match it from a picture:

Silly Wolf Chinese Comic Series

What other books are similar to Silly Wolf?

Please share with me what else you know which is similar! I’ve written previously about our favourite graphic novels. From that list, I would say that the reading level of Silly Wolf 笨狼的故事 is similar to Treasure Hunt Around the World Series 法国寻宝记  however the storyline/genre is more similar to Sumikko Gurashi 角落小伙伴.

Overall the book is rate 4 out 5 by my kids. It loses a star because the storyline gets a little repetitive after some time (we’re talking on about book 9 of the 12).

If this book is looking a little hard for your young reader, consider this list of Chinese bridging books to read after your child knows 1000 characters.

For other ideas on great Chinese books for your family, or to swap second hand books in Singapore, please join the conversation with other parents at the FB Group Ni Hao Singapore Primary School learning, which I host along with a few other Singapore-based bloggers.

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