Little Wolf's First Howling

illus. by Laura McGee Kvasnosky & Kate Harvey McGee. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763689711.
RedReviewStarPreS-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.

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