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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Exploring the World of Wolves, written by Tracy C. Read. Firefly Books, 2010. $6.95 ages 6 and up

Physical strength and stamina are key to a wolf's hunting success. To target and track its much bigger prey, a wolf pack roams tirelessly over a large territory."

Kids have a real interest in wild animals that live in the same vicinity as they do. They want to know all there is to know about them, and they look to books such as this one to provide useful information.

Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are of the small zoo that  housed a few wild animals, in our exhibition grounds. Not a particularly lovely place at all. I remember being scared, and sad. There was a wolf, and I thought it amazing that I got to see it up close; but my strongest memory is of the smell, the emaciated body and the fact that that beautiful, frightening animal (because of stories I had heard) paced, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. What a life for the largest member of the dog family!

The gray wolf does not fear game larger than it itself; in fact, its prey is often much bigger. Elk, caribou and moose to name but a few. What is its power for stalking and capturing such game? We know it is very strong, with long legs and 'massive molars'. It is well equipped for a life on the move. Since it isn't sure where its next meal might come from, the wolf has a large enough stomach that it can 'gorge on some 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one time'.

We need nonfiction books just like this one to provide young readers with facts that make the wolf more real to them. They will learn that the wolves live in packs, which gives help when caring for the young pups, finding enough food and in communication. Clear, captioned photographs provide an abundance of accessible facts for those wanting to know more about this majestic animal.

By seeing what this book has to offer, budding naturalists may become advocates for protecting it in the future. Let's hope that happens.

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