Monday, July 28, 2008

Gray Wolves; Return to Yellowstone


Gray Wolves: Return to Yellowstone by Meish Goldish, consultant: Douglas W. Smith, PhD, Yellowstone Wolf Project Leader; series: America's Animal Comebacks. 2007. Review copy from publisher, Bearport Publishing. Review originally published at The Edge of the Forest.

Many kids love books about animals. But, in writing about animals (or any nonfiction topic) for kids, the question is always, what to include? What to highlight?

Gray Wolves: Return to Yellowstone focuses on the modern history of the wolf, how it became nearly extinct in the US, and the efforts to bring it back. I liked that Goldish included that yes, wolves kill other animals, but that their hunting is important more than for just themselves. He explains the role predators play in the ecosystem: "Scientists learned that the animals kill prey, such as elk and deer, that are old and sick. Hunting these weaker animals means that the healthier ones are left to breed and find food. So wolves actually help other groups of animals stay strong."

Other facts I did not know: each pack has a male alpha wolf and a female alpha wolf, and usually those are the only wolves in the pack to breed. The book tells us of the original transplanted wolves; I liked that the scientists used terms like "female wolf 9F" rather than giving them pet names, like Rosy or Fred. Because these are not pets—these are wild animals.

I also liked that Gray Wolves provided balance; yes, neighboring farmers were worried about loss of livestock. So a scheme was set up to pay farmers and ranchers for lost animals. While I'm sure the system may have its problems, it still shows readers that there are many sides to an argument, to consider those sides, and to reach a compromise.

Also good: Ends with quick facts about wolves, glossary, and further reading.

Photos: the wolf pups are cute. But the photos aren't all puppies and daisies: Wolves hunt animals, and the wolves are shown eating. Kids love this type of "eeewww" photo, and the text prepares them for the gruesome ones.


Links:
Wolf Trust (Scotland)

the Publisher provides a "look inside" the book

An interview with the author

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