While reading Amie Kaufman’s Elementals: Ice Wolves, I was struck by how much research the author had clearly done on wolves. The way in which she subtly wove truth into this rich and detailed fantasy landscape made for an incredibly immersive reading experience.
Wolves are fascinating creatures, with extensive ties to their pack and astonishingly complex ways of communicating. Children’s literature is full of thrilling and heart-warming stories featuring these stunning and intelligent creatures, and I found myself reflecting on the ones I had most enjoyed.
Below is a list of eight books which all feature wolves, some are about a bond between human and wolf, others about people who can turn into wolves, and there are one or two that are even told from the point of view of the wolf.
Whichever title takes your fancy, I am sure you will end up on Wikipedia a little later, or digging out an encyclopedia determined to learn more about these marvellous animals.
Elementals: Ice Wolves – Amie Kaufman
Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.
So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.
In order to rescue her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shapeshifting force of all.
The Wolf Wilder – Katherine Rundell
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.
When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.
The Last Wild – Piers Torday
Kester hasn’t spoken since his mother died, and he’s been locked away in the dreary, soulless Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children. He’s not sure why he’s there, or why his father never visits, but when a cockroach starts talking to him, he suspects it’s probably because he’s gone mad. Taken to an island where all surviving animals are hiding, he joins forces with a deer, a mouse and a beautiful young wolf-cub to try and find his father and safe the lives of all living creatures.
White Fang – Jack London
Still a classic as thrilling and poignant as when it was first published over 100 years ago. Born in the wilds of the freezing cold Yukon, White Fang – half-dog, half-wolf – is the only animal in the litter to survive. He soon learns the harsh laws of nature, yet buried deep inside him are the distant memories of affection and love. Will this fiercely independent creature of the wild learn to trust man again?
Simon Thorne and the Wolf’s Den – Aimee Carter
When his mum is kidnapped by a herd of terrifying rats, Simon finds out that he, his mum and his uncle are all Animalgams – people who can change into an animal at will.
In search of his mother he discovers the Animalgam Academy located underneath Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms that make up this secret world – Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles and Underwater. And Simon Thorn is the only one who can save them….
Imaginative and vivid with themes of bravery, loyalty, and finding one’s true self, this exciting, five-book adventure series is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson.
The Wolf Keepers – Elise Broach
Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it’s a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home.
The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.
The Last Wolf – Michael Morpurgo
Robbie McLeod is on the run from the English Redcoats in the Scottish highlands. On his furtive travels, he finds a wolf cub, near a sign proclaiming the killing of the last wolf in Scotland. Identifying at once with the abandoned orphan, Robbie adopts the cub and a unique loyalty grows between them. Eventually, Robbie flees his homeland and seeks his fortune in the New World. Has the time come for Wolf to find a newer, freer home too?
This is a gem of a story sweeping the reader from the present day to the eighteenth-century and across the Atlantic.
Wolf Brother: #1 Chronicles of Ancient Darkness – Michelle Paver
Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. Only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined.
In this page-turning, original, and spectacularly told adventure story, Torak and Wolf are joined by an incredible cast of characters as they battle to save their world, in this first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness