What happens when a lone sheep and a she-wolf fall in love? A Woolf happens… It is not exactly a lamb neither is a pup but a son with the soft woolly body of his father sheep and the pointy ears of his mother wolf. Alex Latimer, the well-known author from South Africa creates a lovely, warm story and his brother Patrick Latimer richly illustrates it.
Woolf grows up happy yet alone and when he sees a pack of wandering wolves he feels the need to join them renouncing his woolly sheep side. He shears the wool from his body to fit in better with the wolves, however he soon gets tired with the fact that he needed to hunt rabbits and to listen to rude comments about sheep so he leaves the pack. Another day, he encounters a flock of sheep and is so carried away by their tender voice that he decides to renounce his wolf side and join them. He uses some talcum powder and some curlers and spends his days pretending to be like the other sheep. Soon he leaves the flock too as he can’t bear the mean comments the sheep make for the wolves. Woolf feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. His parents explain that he is special and accepting only his one half ignoring the other will make him only sad. So Woolf makes new friends among which a horsefly and a catfish!
So who is Woolf? Half Wolf, Half Sheep, All Heart as the title says. A picture book for many readers to identify, a story for the other, the immigrant,the bilingual child. A tale for all of us who come from diverse backgrounds, all of us who don’t fit in the mainstream, all of us who have never been popular and have tried desperately in our youth to fit in a group until we reconciled with our inner self, until we found happiness inside us. I enjoyed the book more than my little bookworm not only because I identified with Woolf but because of the witty illustrations, the unusual dress Alex Latimer sews for the so prevalent -in contemporary literature- idea of ‘tolerating the other’ and the sense of hope that arises it the end not from tolerating but by embracing.