REVIEWS+

A Wolf Called Wander

illus. by Mónica Armiño. 240p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062895936.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 4–6—Swift, a yearling wolf, is separated from his family after a rival wolf pack attacks and claims his family's territory as their own. His thousand-mile journey across the Pacific Northwest to find a new home brings danger, hunger, and desperate loneliness. Inspired by the story of OR-7, a real wolf naturalists tracked in the wild, Parry perfectly conveys her character's curious, alert, and social nature. Swift's successes and failures throughout his travels shape a relatable bildungsroman theme. His symbiotic relationship with a raven will delight and intrigue readers, just one example of the abundant information about wolves Parry seamlessly incorporates into this page-turning narrative. Generously illustrated, Armiño's spot and full-page black-and-white drawings capture the landscape's stark beauty from the fragility of a bumblebee in flight to the ferocity of an animal attack. The novel's grim yet blunted depiction of life and death in nature, along with an upbeat ending in which Swift gives himself a new name, make it an ideal middle grade read. The novel would also function well as the fictional component in a classroom lesson about wolves, as the gripping story—and extensive back matter—will inspire students to learn more about the real OR-7.
VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries; deserving of a place alongside Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey, Jack London's White Fang, and other classic animal adventure novels.

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