Writing books from a wolf’s point of view isn’t easy, but that is Dorothy Hearst’s goal in her trilogy, The Wolf Chronicles. Hearst writes, “The biggest challenge was getting the level of anthropomorphism right. If I were to be completely accurate in depicting how a wolf perceives the world, the book would have been impenetrable for my (human) readers. But I didn’t want to make the wolves seem like furry people. Striking that balance was the biggest challenge, though it was more fun than frustrating.”
This is one of the rare books reviewed here on AB4T that is suitable for readers as young as middle school. There is no reason that The Wolf Chronicles should not be recommended to younger readers.
As for authenticity, Hearst conducted extensive research in, from her biography, “the areas of wolf biology, behavior, coevolution, cognitive science and other related areas…and…also interviewed many of the top wolf and dog experts in the world.” She includes FAQs and a reading list on her website. Animal-obsessed teens will appreciate both, and their teachers & librarians will appreciate the Reading Group Guide.
Adult/High School–It has been three months since young wolf Kaala prevented a war between her pack and the humans. While gracefully reminding readers of the events in Promise of the Wolves (S & S, 2008), the action barrels forward. There is division within the Greatwolves Council. One faction, led by upstart Milsindra, believes that wolves and humans must remain separate. Zorindru, the ancient wolf leader of the Wide Valley, believes that they must work together to survive. The Council grants Kaala one year to demonstrate that humans and wolves can live together. If she fails, all Wide Valley wolves and humans will be killed and the experiment taken up elsewhere. Kaala is controversial. Some wolves believe she is the prophesied “one pup to save them all,” while others believe she is drelshik, cursed. She depends on her allies–packmates Azzuen and Mara; her raven friend Tlitoo; and TaLi, the human with whom she has bonded–for help. Kaala also consults the spirit wolf in a realm poised between life and death. Kaala and TaLi believe that an alliance is crucial for maintaining the Balance, for reminding humans that they are but one part of the natural world. The story is recommended for readers who enjoy stories told from an animal point of view, such as David Clement-Davies’s Fire Bringer (2000) and The Sight (2002, both Dutton), though some may tire of the politics of human tribe and wolf-pack hierarchies. Still, most will be fascinated by the mythology of the valley, the insights into wolf behavior (carefully researched by the author), and a peek at life 14,000 years in the past. –Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City