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Summary: Maria, an elementary-aged girl discovers a lone wolf pup one winter evening. With the help of her grandfather, she raises it as a family pet. The local village is cautious of Shadow the wolf pup at first because they have been taught to fear wolves. The children come to love Shadow, and soon enough their parents come around, too. Maria forgets that the wolf is a wild animal and is heartbroken when Shadow disappears one evening to create a family of his own. This is an early reader chapter book for young audiences.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 12
Reading Level: 4.8
Age of Child: Read with a 6-year-old boy.
Young Reader Reaction: My son loved this book! He wanted to read it a second time. As soon as we finished it, even though it's a chapter book and too long to do so. He was especially interested in Maria having a wolf as a loyal pet who waited for her after school and the fact that the school closed in the winter because of the snow.
Adult Reader Reaction: I loved the insight the story provides into the lives of the villagers in this mountain town because it's so different from our own town. I loved the respect the grandfather had for the wolf and the integrity of the wild animal that was shown throughout his time in their home. I was surprised how much my son loved this book. It is a character-driven story without a lot of action, which is different from the books we normally read. It encourages me to broaden the range of books we select at the library.
Pros: There is a lot to love about this story, and it would make a nice selection for a mixed-age audience. The illustrations are gorgeous; and the relationships between Maria and her grandfather, as well as the grandfather and the wolf are captivating.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I think it's a great book to read once, but I do not see us reading it time and time again. [Although my son would disagree!]
Educational Themes: The individual stories of the townspeople, as well as their collective change of mind about Shadow, is a great discussion. What made them change their mind? Did Shadow really change? It is also a good story for illustrating respectful behavior between generations.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - animal stories, folktales, family
Date(s) Reviewed: May 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.