First Friend: How Dogs Evolved from Wolves To Become Our Best Friends

Farrar. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374313432.
PreS-Gr 1–This sweet and simple picture book provides one version of how the relationship between humans and dogs evolved over thousands of years into the bond we know and cherish today. In a time line across millennia, each section of this story begins with a setting, e.g., “Long, long ago, when nomads hunted through Europe and Asia fought lean hungry wolves for their prey…a girl met a pup.” Then more years pass, and a pup meets a boy. They bond, lightly, over bones, and watch each other grow up and learn to hunt, but they never quite become friends. This scenario is repeated several times over with human and wolf getting a bit closer each time until finally, “The boy looked back and called…and Dog left the wolf pack to follow his boy away.” Hamilton’s repetitive story is simple but effective in conveying the evolution of wolves into dogs. Kids will love noticing the difference in the humans’ lives as the years pass. A more in-depth explanation of the science behind the author’s story appears in the back matter, along with a bibliography, making it appealing for a wide variety of ages. Kim’s watercolor, acrylic, and gouache artwork adds warmth and familiarity to the story with its friendly faces, guarded-then-playful pups, and use of vivid colors.
VERDICT A great story time choice for all libraries, perfect for launching discussions of fact and speculation, and how they can be combined.

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