The Picture Book Buzz

Wolves! Strange and Wonderful - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

First, the winner of Library Girl: How Nancy Pearl Became America's Most Celebrated Librarian is:

Leslie Eva Tayloe

Congratulations, Leslie!


Now, this week's Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF choice is the most recent in a series of nonfiction books which highlight and de-mystify some amazing animals, including elephants, dolphins, spiders, and octopuses. It's time for one of the most feared and misunderstood animals to shake off the rumors and myths surrounding them. This is a stunning exploration of wolves and their interactions with humans.

Wolves! Strange and Wonderful


Author: Laurence Pringle


Illustrator: Meryl Henderson


Publisher: Astra Books for Young Readers/Calkins Creek (2022)


Ages: 7-10


Nonfiction


Themes:

Wolves, nonfiction, truth, and conservation.


Synopsis:

Learn all about wolves with this newest title in the acclaimed Strange and Wonderful series featuring careful research and exquisite illustrations.


This nonfiction book takes young readers on a journey into the lives of wolves, the largest of all wild mammals who have lived in the Northern Hemisphere for millions of years. Kids will learn how wolves use their powerful jaw muscles and sharp teeth to hunt their prey, how a wolf pack forms, and the meaning of different wolf howls. This book explores every aspect of these fascinating canines and even corrects erroneous myths and lore about them.


Opening Lines:

Just for fun, howl like a wolf. Throw

your head back and let out a long, loud wolf howl.

AR-WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

You have probably heard a sound like that in

movies and television programs. Filmmakers

sometimes use it in night scenes. They know that

a wolf's howl can send a powerful message - of

wildness. of mystery, of danger.

For thousands of years wolves have inspired

legends, myths, and scary stories. Sometimes

they've sparked feelings of fear. Since the mid-

1990's, however, scientists have studied the lives

of real wolves, not imaginary creatures. Thanks to

their discoveries , people's ideas and feelings about

wolves have changed.


What I LOVED about this book:

Encouraging the reader to start by howling and then asking them how they've seen wolves represented in movies or on television is a great way to snag their attention. Especially when accompanied by Meryl Henderson's stunning opening spread. It just begs you to join in the howl.

Text © Laurence Pringle, 2022. Image © Meryl Learnihan Henderson, 2022.


Before addressing myths about the wolves, Laurence Pringle explores the various species of wolves, their relationship to dogs, and some of their wonderfully unique characteristics - loping gait, keen sense of smell, and the structure of their skull - which help them survive.

Text © Laurence Pringle, 2022. Image © Meryl Learnihan Henderson, 2022.


The conversational text (which occasionally addresses the reader) and gorgeous watercolor and pencil illustrations continue with an evaluation of the family and social aspects of wolves. Sharing information about their dens, pups, and relationships within a pack (debunking the notion of "Alphas"). As well as the various sounds a wolf can make, why a wolf howls, their territory, and of course the mechanics of the hunt.


The header - "Wolves and People Through History" - signals a shift to examining the wolf's relationship and interactions with people. Wolves were initially regarded as creators, brothers, constellations, and role models, as "countless generations of people admired and respected wolves."

Text © Laurence Pringle, 2022. Image © Meryl Learnihan Henderson, 2022.


When we shifted from hunter/gatherers to farmers or city dwellers many people lost "touch with nature, and no longer felt part of it." The massive clearing of forests for farms & cities reduced both the wolf's habitat and their native prey. Resulting in them hunting livestock and a call for their eradication. After attempting to debunk some of the myths and fears surrounding the wolves, the book looks at the conservation efforts in Congress, reintroduction strategies (Yellowstone), and the continued struggle to balance the concerns of ranchers and hunters with the survival of the magnificent wolf.


A glossary, list of print and internet resources, and an index help make this a great nonfiction addition to this series as well as any animal and conservation collection. It's a gorgeously illustrated and detailed look at the majestic wolf.


Resources:

- make an easy origami wolf or a whole pack of your own.


- check out the Wolf Conservation Center - Kid Activity Pages (+ Junior Wolf Biologist badge), Wolf webcams, and their work to save the Mexican Gray Wolves and the Red Wolves.


- pair this with A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, illustrated by Mónica Armiño and Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Robin James.


If you missed the interview with Laurence Pringle on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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