Excellent illustration, great humor and refreshingly stylish text

New York Times Book Review

I am so Strong

‘Tell me, little bacon bits, who’s the strongest in the woods?’

Written by Mario Ramos

Translated by Jean Anderson

  • Description

    Next, the wolf met the three little pigs.
    ‘Hello, what have we here? Three little pigs, a long way from home. That’s a bit careless. Tell me, little bacon bits, who’s the strongest in the woods?’ demanded the wolf.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin Belgium
    Reader Age 5-7 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. New York Times Book Review, July 2011

      Excellent illustration, great humor and refreshingly stylish text,

    2. School Librarian journal (UK), April 2013

      This intelligent, sophisticated text, with plenty of humorous touches, tells a time honoured tale of pride going before a fall, as the big headed, self-satisfied wolf finally gets his come-uppance.

    3. The Bookseller, September 2012

      Brilliantly clever and very funny.

    4. Library Media Connection (US), May 2012

      Children will enjoy the predictable question and answer pattern, brightly colored illustrations, and humorous ending. This book, translated from the original French, would be a perfect read-aloud choice. Recommended.

    5. publishersweekly.com, July 2011

      This offering from Belgian author/illustrator Ramos is a single, drawn-out joke, but achieves keeper status with intelligent dialogue and Gallic sophistication. A megalomaniacal wolf strolls through the forest buttonholing fairy tale creatures and asking them to burnish his ego. ‘My dear, how well that crimson suits you,’ he says to Little Red Riding Hood. ‘Tell me, my little strawberry, who’s the strongest in the woods?’ ‘Oh, you are, absolutely,’ she replies alertly. When he’s not asking for ego strokes, he’s musing to himself as he walks through the forest: ‘ ‘Oh, it’s so good to be me!’ he said, breathing in the scents of oak and mushroom.’ Ramos’s thickly brushed paintings alternate between woodland scenes suggestive of stage scenery and closer shots of the wolf and other creatures against white backdrops, the better to appreciate the comic tension. A small ‘toad of some sort’ breaks the pattern of predictable answers: its mother (a dragon) is the strongest creature in the forest, it says. The wolf’s comeuppance is deeply satisfying; the only disappointment is that the book is over so soon. Better read it again.

    6. Timaru Herald, 12 December 2008

      New Zealand publisher Gecko Press is translating and publishing award-winning European children’s books, and two of those, I am so Strong and I am so Handsome, by Mario Ramos, have been on the most-read list this year…

    7. Talespinner, May 2008

      These two gems, translated from French, feature an egotistic wolf wanting his personal conviction confirmed that he is the strongest (I am so Strong) and most handsome (I am so Handsome) creature in the woods. He practices his condescending flattery on a variety of fairytale characters, who initially have no choice but to agree with his boasts… These two linked titles feature a delightful combination of picture and text that will have wide appeal to all ages.

    8. Camilla During, Herald on Sunday, 8th June 2008

      Camilla During rounds up the best recent kids’ picture books: Two books by Mario Ramos, I am so Strong and I am so Handsome feature an irrespressibly boastful wolf. Everybody will cheer when this bully gets his comeuppance.

    9. Booknotes, Emma Coley, Autumn 2008

      Gecko Press produces another gem of a book, which will have children hysterical with laughter, and parents happy to reread it until it falls apart. Arrogant and suave is our main character the wolf, swaggering around the woods asking such characters as the seven dwarves and Little Red Riding Hood who they think is the handsomest of them all. They all reply that of course he is. ‘Heh, Heh! I shine, I dazzle, I gleam and I glitter. I light up the woods with my presence. I am the most marvellous.’ Read the story to find out how the wolf gets his comeuppance. I am so Strong follows the same plot to equally good effect, but with another hilarious ending. An entertaining lesson on narcissism (for both child and adult), told with humour and charm, and the illustrations are a perfect match for the text. 3-7 years.

    10. Magpies Magazine, Nola Allen, March 2008

      In these charming stories an arrogant, yet strangely appealing, wolf decides to confirm that he is the strongest and most handsome of all those who live in the woods by interrogating an array of folktale characters… The illustrations, which appear to be executed in gouache in vibrant, solid colours, add humour and irony to
      each of Wolf’s situations. The progression of his journey is perfectly told in the pictures and words. Translated from French, the writing captures the feel and tone of the fairy and folktale genre–the ending of I Am So Strong echoes the traditional tale of the wide-mouthed frog.

    11. Animals’ Voices Magazine, New Zealand, Autumn 2008

      Maria Ramos is an award-winning Belgian children’s author whose works appear in many countries. These books will appeal to children from the age of three upwards and feature the Big Bad Wolf who gets his comeuppance from a little toad in I Am so Strong and a baby dragon in I Am So Handsome. The illustrations are strong and cheeky and the ending makes you laugh.

    12. Kate de Goldi to Kim Hill, Radio NZ National, December 2007

      Kate: The ones I loved especially from Gecko Press this year were I am so Handsome and I am so Strong by Mario Ramos. Remember them – the ones about the wolf – which are just so, so funny…
      Kim: Yes, yes, I am so Strong, very funny.
      Kate: . and I recommended them to so many people. And just a very amusing take on the wolf of fairy tale.
      Kim: How clever it is. It’s like. how do you make that so funny, just the sheer look of this wolf makes you laugh.
      Kate: Yeah, it’s a beautiful kind of amalgam of illustration and text. The text is very funny, and there’s the patterning that comes in all the best children’s stories. The wolf is, you know, full of hubris and is asking all the characters from fairy tale and in the forest, red riding hood, the pigs etc. ‘who is the strongest?’, ‘who is the most handsome?’ and they, in their slightly nervous way are saying, ‘you are’, ‘you are’, ‘you are’. and then comes the little dinosaur who says ‘my mum is’ and then he accuses the dinosaur of being a ‘miserable little gherkin’ which I just love (laughs) – so there’s great language, it’s very funny.
      Kim: One of the things I like about these Gecko Press translations is that you get words that you would not normally get in books that were aimed at this age group, for example the last sentence in I am so Strong, by Mario Ramos says, ‘who me? I’m just a harmless little wolf, said the wolf, backing prrrudently away’ – and prudently is just such a fantastic word, but you’d never find it in your average picture book would you?

    13. David Larsen, Listener, December 2007

      Wellington based Gecko Press doesn’t know how to stumble. In ‘I am So Strong’ and ‘I am So Handsome’, Belgian writer-illustrator Mario Ramos tells two simple anti-hero stories. In each one, the Big Bad Wolf marches smugly through the woods, bullying everyone he meets, until he happens across an ugly toad creature…oh dear, it’s a baby dragon. And here comes Mum. Hilarious.

    14. Nelson Mail, November 2007

      In ‘I am So Strong’ [the wolf] challenges everyone he meets, including Snow White, ‘I suppose you know who’s the strongest in the woods?’ – and learns it’s not him when he meets a little toad that is actually a baby dragon.

    15. Magpies, Trevor Agnew, October 2007

      ‘One day after a fine and filling meal, the wolf decided to go for a walk in the woods.’ As he strolls (on his hind legs), the wolf amuses himself by asking those he meets their opinion of him. Since he is tall and threatening, the wolf has no trouble getting each to acknowledge that he is the strongest. The fact that he addresses a rabbit as ‘sugar bun’ and the three pigs as ‘my little bacon bits’ adds to the wolf’s sinister appearance. He meets the seven dwarfs and Little Red Riding Hood, and they too agree that he’s the strongest in the woods. ‘I am the Big Bad Wolf! They’re all scared to death of me’ he shouts, ‘I’m the King!’ Then the wolf meets a ‘little toad of some sort’ and has an encounter that gives the book a cheerful and encouraging surprise ending.
      The author’s illustrations are bold and attractive, making striking use of the whole page.

    16. Hawkes Bay Today, October 2007

      I handed these books to a nine-year-old and an eleven-year-old and asked them to tell me what they thought.
      Within minutes, they were both giggling and telling each other little bits about the book they were reading.
      Both [I am so…] books have the Big Bad Wolf gadding about in the forest and asking all and sundry – including the three little pigs and Little Red Riding Hood – who is the most handsome or who is the strongest person they know.
      He gets the reply he’s looking for every time and struts about with a big head singing his own praises – until he meets someone with a different answer.
      I laughed out loud at the end too.

    17. Herald on Sunday, October 2007

      A super-cute French [language] children’s book translated into English, about a wolf with attitude. Another title in the series is ‘I am so Handsome’. We did say it was French.

    18. Tomorrow’s Schools Today, October 2007

      In I Am So Strong, the Big Bad Wolf saunters through the forest challenging everyone he meets – including Snow White and the three little pigs to tell him who the strongest animal in the woods is. Everyone agrees that the Wolf is the strongest creature in the woods, everyone that is except a green creature that looks like a toad. When readers turn the page they can see why he doesn’t fear the Wolf.

      This is a good story for children three and over, with characters from popular fairy stories making appearances and good humour underlying an important message. The Wolf is a bully and he gets his just desserts.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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