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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wolf Island, by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read. Orca Book Publishers, 2017. $19.95 ages 6 and up

"Life was good, but because wolves are such social animals, it could get lonely for him. He would have liked another wolf to keep him company. He would have liked a mate, but so far he hadn't seen another wolf anywhere."

In this dramatic nonfiction account, a male wolf breaks from his family and swims to an island in the Great Bear Rainforest, the scene of other terrific nonfiction by this talented team. Readers will find much to like about the written account of the wolf's first year on his own, as well as the winning photographs that provide a close-up and personal view of all he encounters as he sets out to find a new home and family.

In that year, as we watch the wolf explore his world, we learn about his adaptation to this new but similar world, how he feeds and what sustains him. We learn about the area itself, its climate, its food chain, and the dangers inherent for a lone wolf as he hunts for food. The wolf learns all that he needs to know for his own survival, and we anticipate with him the return of the salmon as that will provide some pretty delicious meals.

"Wolves are expert fishers. When a wolf sees a salmon swimming upstream, he plants his paws on the riverbed and bites at the fish until he catches it. Then he tears off the fish's head, sucking up all the fatty brains inside. A hungry wolf will eat hundreds of salmon between August and December."

As the wolf feeds on salmon, he also helps to feed the rainforest. While he is gorging himself on fresh fish, he senses the presence of another wolf. A female has arrived with the same innate need as the male - a new home and mate to start a family of her own. It takes some time for them to find each other. Eventually they do.

"The male wolf was sure he had met his mate, and the female was sure she had met hers. From that moment on, they went everywhere together."

With Ian McAllister's wondrous photos and Nicholas Read's accessible text, young readers are sure to learn why it is of great importance to protect and sustain the Great Bear Rainforest. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and is worthy of all efforts to keep it as beautiful as it is now. Two websites are mentioned in back matter. They provide needed information concerning conservation and offer teacher's guides for further learning.

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