Saturday, May 29, 2010

The wolves are back!

I've been in love with wolves for as long as I can remember, perhaps from childhood when I read Jack London. When I read a recent review of "Never Cry Wolf," by an Amazon friend, I had to respond with this newly acquired book in the school library where I work, "The Wolves Are Back," by another long-time wolf-lover, Jean Craighead George and illustrator, Wendell Minor. As a lovely touch, Minor declared his dedication to "All the people who made it possible for the wolves to return to Yellowstone."

On each page of script, the final sentence is: "The wolves are back!" On that first page the reader learns that the wolf pack has killed an elk. On the second page we learn that others also eat from that kill: ravens, a golden eagle, a grizzly bear, magpies, mice,and sexton beetles. "The valley was sharing food again. The wolves were back."

On the third page of script is the horrid back story. By 1926 there were no more wolves in the forty-eight states. Directors of the national parks had given the go-ahead for hunters and ranchers to kill every single wolf they saw. Reader, did you know that? (I'm assuming this is true.) Only gentle animals were allowed to roam in national parks: deer, elk, antelope.

By request from park visitors who wanted to hear the wolves howl, ten adult wolves were returned to Yellowstone in 1995. With them they caused the return of the Vesper sparrow. How? The elk herds had eaten all the grasses the bird needed for food and nesting. The wolves frightened the elk into the mountains, the grasses grew back, and the birds returned.

A similar occurrence with bison and flycatchers. When erosion stopped because grasses grew back, the beaver found willows to use to create dams and ponds and waterbirds and fish and frogs and dragonflies. The wolves thinned out the coyotes (do wolves eat coyotes?!), squirrels returned, badgers returned.

With grasses and ponds came flowers and bees and butterflies, hummingbirds.

"The wilderness is in balance again." Please ask why. Why? "The wolves are back."

If all this seems simplistic, please remember this is a children's story with information made approachable for children. Pleasing story and breathtaking artwork combined, children will love this book. I know because the classes I read to absolutely loved it, proving that romance with wolves extends beyond age barriers!

The illustrations are just as heart-inspiring and poetic as the script. I wish I could tell you what artistic technique Minor used, but I don't know what he used or how. Close examination shows individual hair strokes on the wolves and all the other animals. The variety of greens on the rolling hills and fields is simply breathtaking. Amazing!

Don't miss this beautiful book! It's not just for children!

No comments:

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.