March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky | SLJ Review

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redstarKVASNOSKY, Laura McGee. Little Wolf’s First Howling. illus. by Laura McGee Kvasnosky & Kate Harvey McGee. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763689711.

PB-Kvasnosky-LittleWolfsFirstHowlingPreS-Gr 2 –As night falls, a canine father and son head to a hilltop for an important rite of passage. First, Little Wolf watches as Big Wolf models proper howling form: he stands tall, points his muzzle skyward, and sings out a thrilling “AAAAOOOO….” Eager to give it a try, Little Wolf echoes the classic cry but can’t stop himself from adding a few ear-pleasing, scat-style embellishments (“dibbity dobbity skibbity skobbity/skooo-woooo-woooo…”). Despite his father’s patient tutelage and repeated demonstrations of the accepted method, Little Wolf’s creative voice will not be quelled, and he lets loose with howls that trumpet the “wildness and joy” found in his heart. Big Wolf is finally won over and joins his son in exuberant—if unconventional—song. The perfectly paced narrative is filled with warmth and humor. Full-bleed illustrations done in gouache portray stunning natural landscapes aglow with crisply rendered details and luminous twilight hues. The animal characters are endearingly depicted yet still retain a touch of realism, adding a sense of the untameable mystery of the wilderness to a sweet story about parent/child affection. VERDICT Fun to read—and howl—aloud, this tale of tackling a first experience with originality and élan is ideal for storytime or family sharing.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2017 issue.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.