Does the first sign of a cold snap leave you longing for a white winter? Like nothing more than curling up with a sparkling story set in a snowy landscape? Look no further than Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder. The stunning cover alone was enough to propel me to the fireside. Lured by the warm glow emanating from the cottage in the woods and intrigued by the solitary figure clutching a lantern with her canine companion I was eager to snuggle up with this book. But, this is no cosy read. Herein lies a hard Russian winter and a community living under the icy grip of Rakov, a sadistic officer of the Tsar’s Army. This is the tale of how 12 year old Feo stands up to him.
Feo has a simple life, learning from her mother how to retrain wolves to be wild. These wolves refuse to be pets and have been cast out by rich people who have tired of them. Feo has befriended a small pack of these fearless creatures. Strong and determined, Feo will stop at nothing to protect them and they are fiercely loyal to her. So when her mother is taken and imprisoned, Feo must rescue her and protect her pack who are under orders to be shot.
The character of Feo is very well drawn. She is in some ways an unlikely heroine, unused to much human company and somewhat wild herself. But she is practical, resilient, kind and becomes an inspiration to the band of youngsters who choose to follow her and revolt. And she is not afraid to fight. Her actions provide much food for thought in this story.
Katherine Rundell is definitely an author to watch in the world of children’s fiction; surely her books are set to take their place amongst the modern classics. I admire her ability to create strong female characters within stories that should appeal to both sexes and a broad age span. Try The girl savage or the highly original and award winning Rooftoppers. And of course, hunt down a copy of The wolf wilder. A challenging read, I would recommend it to a child of 10 and over. If you choose to read it with your child I guarantee you will have much to talk about. Beautifully written, it is an absolute page turner and what stunning pages they are: thick and snowy white, in stark contrast to the darkly atmospheric drawings by Gelrev Ongbico. Don’t wait for the paperback; I doubt it will live up to the beauty of this edition. Anyway this is one you’ll definitely want to keep and re-read.
Other wolfish wonders for young readers I recommend:
- White Fang by Jack London
- The wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
- The wolf princess by Cathryn Constable