________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


The Way of the Wolf.

Richard Dungworth. Illustrated by Nicki Palin.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
26 pp., cloth, $18.99.
ISBN 0-439-95263-8.

Subject Heading:
Wolves-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Lee Anne Smith.

*** /4


But Kolta didn't sleep. On the contrary, he was suddenly very much alert. A strong scent, coming from somewhere not far from the clearing, had set his instincts tingling.

"The pups are fine," he thought. "It won't hurt to leave them while I investigate."

Moving quietly and keeping low, Kolta followed the scent, prowling almost silently through the undergrowth. Then, suddenly, there it was -


Kolta is a one-year-old grey wolf who is given the responsibility of caring for the wolf cubs while the adults of his pack go off to hunt. Disappointed, he reluctantly waits behind at the den. Forest animals visit with him, questioning why he is not with the pack. When Kolta scents a moose, he decides to show off what a good hunter he is. He leaves the cubs to hunt the huge animal only to find himself flying through the air after a well placed kick from the moose.

     Trouble waits as he heads back to the den, for a huge black wolf is stalking the sleeping cubs. Kolta springs into action and bravely stands his ground against the black wolf. Despite being afraid and much smaller than the black wolf, he courageously defends the pups. When the wolf does not back down, Kolta quickly throws back his head to give the loudest, longest howl he can.

     His instinct to howl for help serves Kolta well, and the pack rushes back just in time. After the black wolf retreats, Kolta recognizes how each wolf has a place in the pack and that they all protect each other - the true way of the wolf.

internal art

     This lushly illustrated picture book is a delight to look at and to touch. Children will enjoy literally feeling the story with the textural embossing that covers the pages. The illustrations are realistically authentic and finely rendered with many species of birds, insects, animals and forest flora skillfully integrated into the northern setting. The double page spreads at the climax of the story create a great sense of suspense and action, propelling the reader even more into Kolta's experience with their dynamic flow and beautifully balanced diagonals.

     The writing and premise of The Way of the Wolf blends storytelling and adventure with accurate information about wolf behaviour. At times, the text stumbles, mostly in the dialogue between Kolta and the other animals, but the elegantly phrased descriptive passages (particularly throughout the climax) keep the account from losing momentum. The descriptions of Kolta's feelings, although endearing, are sometimes jarring. However, the story as a whole is an authentic depiction of a young wolf's life.

     A double spread at the end of the book with facts about wolves and other forest animals provides additional information and interest. A beautiful gift book, suitable for read-a-loud in the K-2 classroom.


Lee Anne Smith is a children's librarian and Head of the Cambie Branch for Richmond Public Library in Richmond, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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