In a clever twist on the well-known fairy story Little Red sets off to catch a wolf. Her mum isn’t too worried about this plan as wolves disappeared long ago. Hunting for wolves isn’t so easy though and as Little Red goes deeper into the wood it becomes shadowy and quite scary. Finding a welcoming door she is surprised to actually meet a wolf and also a bear and a lynx. They are friendly but rather hungry with only acorns to eat. They tell her about the good old days when the forest was much bigger and food was plentiful. Little Red shares her packed lunch with them and they help her get home safely. But Little Red is determined to help them and decides more trees are what they need. Mum helps her to plant some, but sadly they will take a very long time to grow.
There is lots to talk about in this ecological story, both about the impact of the loss of woodland habitats on wildlife and in the detailed, often amusing and sometimes quite moving illustrations.
We’re delighted to have been sent these sketches and illustrations by Mini Grey, click on each to enlarge.
Share the story
Read the book aloud pausing to talk about what is happening in the story or illustrations when your child wants to.
When you re read the story children can join in with parts eg Little Red saying ‘I’m off to catch a wolf’ and the punch lines in bold eg ‘bin bag’ ‘tree stump’ ‘last wolf in the land’
Talk about the story
Other stories like this – children might mention Little Red Riding Hood or other stories with wolves in.
Share favourite pages in the story
Talk about the illustration of the endless miles of forest. What animals can you see? Your child can look for the wolf, lynx and bear and also a badger and woodpecker amongst others.
Look through the illustration of the last woods. Talk together about what is different and what might have happened to the woods.
Esme was keen to make her own ‘wanted poster’ and she cut out the letters from newspapers – checking with the book so that it was ‘the same as Red’s.’ The poster was placed in the front window to make sure people could see it and let her know if they spotted a wolf!
We talked about the characters and the links we found to traditional stories. She’s learning about these at school, so it fitted in well. Esme was keen to re-enact the story wearing a little red cape and roping in her brother to play the part of the wolf. She strapped on her lunch bag to take food for the animals and even recruited the family cat to play The Last Lynx!
Later she planted some conkers ‘to grow a new forest’ and has written a postcard to the Last Wolf in role as Red, thanking him for the tea and for walking her home, and letting him know she’s planted some new trees! We loved the environmental theme of the story and opportunities for outside play, great fun. Thank you!'
Things to make and do
Play the story
What would you need to go hunting to catch a wolf? Dress up as a hunter and try lurking, stalking and slithering through an imaginary forest. To be a hunter you have to be very quiet, creeping without being heard. You could make this into a game like ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ with one of you as the last wolf.
Go for a woodland walk
Go for a walk in the woods or park if no woods are nearby. Look out for different trees, which are the oldest, youngest. Can you identify any from their leaves? See here
If it is Autumn you could look out for acorns or other seeds such as conkers. Stand very still, can you hear any birds?
Grow a tree
See here. If you look after it carefully and it starts to grow into a sapling you could think about where to plant it together.
Make a poster
Look at the wanted posters in the book at the beginning and end. Make your own wanted poster for more wolves, other animals or more trees. Children could cut out letters from a newspaper or magazine to make the words, arrange and stick them on a piece of paper and then draw their illustration.
Make a tree house for the Last Wolf
Mini Grey creator of The Last Wolf and Lovemybooks patron has created a lovely resource on her website with templates and instructions to make your own tree house for the LastWolf.