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Lupu Lupettu – one of children’s best-loved book characters

The wolf in fairy tales is always the baddie. The terrible carnivore who gobbles up the baby pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, the billy goats. The wolf stops at nothing to catch his prey and they make sure their presence is felt by howling, huffing, puffing and strutting around.

But Lupu Lupettu is not your average storybook wolf. To start off with, he cannot stomach raw meat, let alone swallow little girls or animals alive. Yeuk. Secondly, he hates howling. When the wolf pack gathers for a pow-wow he sticks his fingers in his ear: he cannot abide the communal clamour. Thirdly, he is a bit of a scaredy cat. He is absolutely terrified of the dark, of monsters lurking in the shadows, of those little spooky noises that you can only hear at night.

Indeed Lupu Lupettu, despite his long snout, his cocked ears, and his pointy teeth, could almost not be a wolf. Which is what makes him a loveable character with children all over the world. Lupu’s trials and tribulations are the same as most children: he hates walking, he only loves to eat pasta, he thinks museums are boring, he wants to win all the time.

Lupu is the creation of young French author Orianne Lallemand – and the character was tried and tested on her five children before it went on to become a publishing phenomenon. Together with illustrator Eléonore Thuillier, stories of Le Loup with his trademark amusing eyes and bush tail sprang to life.

Children in France fell in love with him immediately, and the parents equally loved him for the side-splitting wit of the plots and the gentle moral nudge at the end. In no time, the Le Loup series was translated and published in Bulgaria, Brazil, China, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, South America, Taïwan, Thailand, Turkey and the US.

The Lupu character has captured the imagination of Maltese children

Merlin Publishers, always on the lookout for books which capture the imagination of children, brought him to Malta in 2014 and engaged award-winning Maltese author Clare Azzopardi as translator. “I enjoy translating the series because Lupu is too cute. When you’re translating, you read the text in depth, and I always feel I learn so much from the experience,” said Azzopardi.

As happened elsewhere around the world, Maltese children promptly endeared themselves to the hapless, funny wolf and they adopted him as their own. In a short period of time, Lupu Lupettu has become possibly children’s favourite Maltese book character, as each new Lupu title hits the bestseller charts.

Each year, Merlin Publishers bring in new titles adding to the collection of the series in Maltese.

For this Christmas, Merlin Publishers have launched the actual Lupu Lupettu soft toy, which is available in a box set with two new books in the series.

“The Lupu character has so captured the imagination of Maltese children. Seeing him come to life in a soft toy gives the stories an extra dimension and makes for infinite playing situations/options,” said Merlin Publishers director Chris Gruppetta.

The Lupu Lupettu series has no fixed age. It can be read to children of young age by parents. Children aged six and over will be able to read the book by themselves.

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