Spur: A Wolf’s Story by Eliza Robertson, illustrated by Nora Aoyagi. PICTURE BOOK. Greystone, 2019. $18. ISBN 9781771643412
BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL – ADVISABLE
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Spur and her pack must look for a new home. The wolves’ main source of food, the caribou, have moved on because the trees have been cut down and there is no more lichen. In their search for a new grove, a thunderfly (helicopter) fills the sky. Panic erupts. Something whizzes past Spur’s ear and strikes her heel. She stumbles but manages to hide. When the quiet finally returns, she cannot find her brother or pack. As she searches for them, she encounters another pack, who reluctantly but luckily let her stay. The next time she hears the sound of a thunderfly, she warns the pack and they hide under the shrubs until the roar passes.
Though the story is told from Spur’s perspective, and the author anthropomorphizes her subject somewhat, especially in Spur’s relationship to her brother, it is mostly presented in a realistic manner. A helicopter swooping down close enough to shoot at them would induce panic in the pack, for instance, and Spur would approach an unfamiliar pack with her chest close to the ground. While younger readers may be distressed by a wolf getting shot, they will learn about wolves and their place in our world, and find comfort in a happy ending. This book would also work well for older readers as an introduction to a lesson about point of view, or the potential for multi-faceted impacts of public policy. The Author’s Note brings awareness to the plight of the wolves in the Canadian northwest, and the harms that the current culling policies inflict on these noble creatures. She also includes resources for further investigation.
P.K. Foster, MLS, elementary school teacher-librarian