Title: Wolf Portrait – Medium: Coloured Pencils – Size: 11″x 14″ – Year: 2009
I have had a fascination with wolves ever since I read Jean Craighead George’s Julie of The Wolves trilogy as a child. I also loved Elizabeth Hall’s Child of the Wolves, a story about a husky puppy named Granite, who runs away to live with wolves on the Alaskan taiga. Farley Mowat’s autobiographical non fiction story Never Cry Wolf, which I also read in childhood, is both funny and sad, describing the beauty, intelligence, and family oriented, loving nature of these creatures, as well as the abuse they faced from humans. Like in Julie of the Wolves, we see the contrast between the nature oriented traditions of the traditional Inuit, versus the anti-environmental views of Western society. As an adult, I have re-read these books, and I find they hold up to this day.
One beautiful non-fiction book on wolves is The Sea Wolves, by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read (2010, Orca Book Publishers). This book follows the Coastal wolves of British Columbia throughout the year, as they raise their families and catch salmon. (They have a peculiar habit of only eating the salmon heads!) Spectacular photographs accompany each page, which describes the culture and lifestyles of these wolves. This book also introduces readers to the respectful, honourable views that First Nations people have for wolves, while at the same time dispelling the Western anti-wolf stereotypes. The Sea Wolves ends with an impassioned pleas to preserve wolves and their habitats.
Here is a list of more recommended books:
Eye of The Wolf (Candlewick Press, 1982, renewed 2002): Eye of The Wolf is a beautiful, fiction story written by Daniel Pennac. It parallels the story of an Arctic wolf living in a zoo, with a young refugee named Africa N’Bia. This book introduces children to both human and animal rights issues in a restrained safe way. This Candlewick edition is accompanied by soft charcoal illustrations by Max Grafe. Eye of The Wolf was also made into an animated short called The One Eyed Wolf.
The Wolf’s Footprint (Susan Price, Hodder Children’s Books, 2003): The Wolf’s Footprint is a great fantasy for young readers. Daw and Elka are young sibling who are abandoned during a famine. When they drink from a rain filled wolf print, they magically turn into wolves. This fantasy story shows wolves in a respectful and fairly accurate light.
The Wolves of The Beyond Series, by Kathryn Larby: The Wolves of The Beyond is a compelling fantasy series set in the world of the Guardian Owls. Faolan, a “Malcadh”, or handicapped wolf, is focally abandoned due to the laws of his pack. Faolan is found by a bear who has lost her cubs, and she raises him as her own. Faolan soon meets up with other Malcadhs, who are tasked with guarding the sacred embers deep within the nearby volcanoes. Faolan soon realizes the mystery of his past, a finding that may give a clue about his future. While some animal fighting may make these books unsuitable of r the very young, The Wolves of The Beyond are respectful fantasies about wolves and the natural world.
The Listening Silence (written by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Dennis McDermott, published in 1992 by Harper Collins Children’s Books): The Listening Silence, inspired by First Nations stories, is a fascinating fantasy. Young orphan Kiri is called to be a healer, yet she doesn’t know if she is ready to heal. Elderly healer Mali tries to teach her. But she sets off on her own at 13 to find herself, and is helped by a mysterious Wolken (Wolf) whom she names Cloud Shadow. A recommended read, especially for Julie of the Wolves fans.
Morning On The Lake (written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, published in 1997 by Kids Can Press): Morning On The Lake is a beautiful story about an Ojibway boy and his grandfather on a visit to a remote lake. That night, they are visited by wolves. The boy is initially scared, but his grandfather reassures him that wolves are to be respected, not feared. A beautifully illustrated book that captures the beauty of the wilderness.
The Way of the Wolf, (written by Richard Dungworth, illustrated by Nicki Palin, published in 2005 by Templar books): The Way of the Wolf follows Kolta, a young adult wolf who would rather hunt with the pack than babysit the pups. He complains to the other animals until a rival wolf invades his pack’s territory. Then, he forgets about himself and chases off the rival until his pack scan return. THis book is beautifully illustrated with realistic watercolour paintings, and contains brief facts at the end about wolves and other animals, dispelling myths about these wondrous creatures.
Runt, (written by Marion Dane Bauer, published by Clarion Books in 2002): Runt follows a small wolf pup, Runt, through the life of his pack. Reminiscient of Bambi, the animals talk to each other, but otherwise remain true to animal behaviour. Runt is a realistic story told through the eyes of the wolves themselves.
The Last Wolf of Ireland, (written by Elona Malterre, published by Clarion Books in 1990): The Last Wolf of Ireland tells a tragic story of local extinction. Two children attempt to save Ireland’s last wolf. This story is poignantly and beautifully written, servicing as an impassioned plea to to prevent extinction of wildlife everywhere.
The Wolf King, (written by Joseph Wharton Lippincott, illustrated by Paul Bransom, originally published in 1933): This book could be called the Black Beauty story for wolves. The Wolf King follows a wolf as he and much of his pack triumphantly escape unimaginable cruelty from humans. The wolves perspective is alternated with chapters from the point of view of one compassionate park ranger. While written in 1922, The Wolf King remains surprisingly accurate in its depositions of wolves and other wildlife. Wildly ahead of its time, The Wolf King is an animal rights story that is a must read for anyone interested in environmental history. (While this book is out of print, it can still be found at the Toronto Public Library.)
Wolf Island, (written and illustrated by Celia Godkin, published in 1989 by Fitzhenry and Whiteside): Wolf Island demonstrates what heap pens when top predators are removed. When the wolf family gets stranded on a raft, too many deer take over the island. Once the wolves return, the balance is restored. Wolf Island was one of the books that got me interested in writing and illustrating children’s books. I have always loved Celia Godkin’s coloured pencil drawings, which in turn have influenced my work.
We Are Wolves, (written by Melinda Julietta, illustrated by Lucia Guarnotta, published in 2001 by Scholastic Inc.): Told from the perspective of wolves, this story follows Uncle Wolf as he describes the virtue of wolves. The illustrations in this book are exquisite, and quite accurately detailed. Anyone who loves wolves and artwork will love this book.
The Eyes of Gray Wolf, (written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, originally published in 1993): Gray Wolf has not had it easy. His mate was killed by humans, and he wanders alone. Until one night, when Gray Wolf falls in love again. The Eyes of Gray Wolf is beautifully illustrated with acrylic on Masonite. At the back, a note from the author is given, and a list of wolf protection groups is provided.
Exploring the World of Wolves, (written by Tracy C. Reud, published in 2010 by Firefly Books): Exploring the World of Wolves introduces young readers to wolves, using many facts and beautiful photographs. Wolf lovers and photography plovers will enjoy this one.
And last, but not least, I will end by recommending more of Jean Craighead George’s wolf stories. Nutik the Wolf Pup (Wenddell Minor), and Nutik and Amaroq Play Ball (Wenddell Minor) are two delightful picture books that tell mini-stories from Julie’s Wolf Pack. Seasons of The Moon, Autumn Moon (illustrated by Sal Catalano, published in 2001 by Harper Trophy), describes a wolf pack as they survive November in Alaska. The Wounded Wolf (illustrated by John Schoenherr, published in 1978 by Harper and Row) describes how Roko, an injured wolf, is saved by his family. Look to the North; A Wolf Pup Diary (illustrated by Lucia Washburn, published by Harper Childrens in 1997) is a beautifully illustrated book that follows 3 wolf pupts as they grow up. And The Wolves Are Back! (illustrated by Wendell Minor, Published in 2008 by Live Oak Media) tells the story of how wolves came back to Yellowstone National Park.
While I can’t list all my favourite wolf books here, I would suggest you check out your local library and find books that depict wolves in a positive light. If you discover more great wolf books, pleats let me know!