The Winter Wolf by Holly Webb. Tiger Tales, 2022. 9781664340299
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Genre: Animal fantasy
What did you like about the book? Amelia’s family is spending Christmas at an old family home in Scotland, along with some cousins that Amelia barely knows. While her older sister is excited to spend time with girls her age, Amelia finds herself stuck with Tom, an unfriendly boy who would rather spend time with his intimidating dog, Freddie. One afternoon while exploring the house as a way to avoid Tom, Amelia comes across an old journal that was written in 1873 by her ancestor Noah, an American who later settled on the Scottish estate. Amelia later falls asleep while reading the journal, and wakes up in 19th century frontier America, where she meets Noah as a boy. Noah is taken aback by the appearance of Amelia, not just because of her 21st century clothes, but her strong resemblance to his little sister, Grace, who had recently passed away. Amelia soon learns that, in between his wintry farm chores, and unbeknownst to his stern father, Noah is trying to feed and care for a wolf pup and reunite it with its mother. The mother was shot in the leg by a neighboring farmer, and Noah and Amelia work together to save both of the animals. They face many challenges: overcoming Amelia’s fear of dogs, struggling through some treacherous winter weather, and avoiding the neighbors who are now on the hunt.
Amelia is a likable young heroine; children will empathize with her feelings of loneliness even among a houseful of cousins, and even her uncertainty around Freddie and later, the wolf pup. Readers will find her journey into the past an exciting one and may recognize the historical setting as similar to that of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Short chapters are interspersed with Noah’s journal entries as he chronicles the arrival of Amelia and the bond they develop during her short visit. Their friendship sets Amelia up for a satisfying ending to the present day part of the story as well.
Anything you did not like about the book? The dates in Noah’s journal show the story taking place in October; but Noah mentions that his Pa says it’s the ‘hardest winter we’ve ever seen’ and he and Amelia fight through a fierce blizzard during their time together.
To whom would you recommend this book? Students in grades 2 and up who have read other books by the same author (in particular, other Winter Journeys books) will enjoy this adventure, and it’s a good fit for those who gravitate toward series like Magic Tree House or Little Animal Rescue.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: May 11, 2022