Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wolf in the Snow, written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $24.99 ages 5 and up
"A GIRL LOST IN
A wolf cub is lost.
How will they find
their way home?"
Aren't we all feeling the need to be reading books for our kids that exude kindness? In tough times, they need to see through windows that help them learn about the greater world and the people who live here. Then, to know how to treat them with empathy and understanding. It seems so easy when we are talking about animals. Why not all people?
At the beginning of a brand new day, a little red-cloaked girl heads away from home, waving goodbye to her dog as it barks its own farewell. Snow is falling. As readers we can see in a facing page that a wolf pack is also setting out. A tiny cub is at the center of the pack. That is our lead-up.
As the book begins, school is now over for the day. The snow still falls. Turn the page and the menacing wolves - breath steaming from their toothy mouths are moving in a pack through the prairie landscape. It is hard to for all to see as the snow gets heavier! The girl plods on. Another peek at the wolves shows the little one lagging behind the rest. The two, out of breath and cold, meet on a path in the trees.
The cub is scared and runs. It doesn't get far before it sinks into the snow and must accept help from its rescuer. It howls, which results in a howling response from the pack. The girl trudges toward the sounds, dealing with terror of her own. The howling grows ever closer! In a poignant scene, mother and cub are reunited.
Exhausted, the girl picks herself up and moves on. She can see a light ahead of her and she can hear her dog barking. But - she is so cold. She must stop to rest. The wolves then repay her kindness in the only way they can.
Matthew Cordell's brilliant, emotionally-charge artwork will astound those who share this memorable
tale. He expertly evokes cold, terror, bravery, exhaustion and certainly relief from both sides of the drama using pen-and-ink and watercolors drawn with a heart that is wide open to kind gestures and powerful storytelling.