Review Blog

Oct 31 2016

The wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill

cover image

Flying Eye Books, 2016. ISBN 9781909263833
Wolves. Hunting. Conservation of wildlife. New Mexico History. At the turn of the century in New Mexico, European settlers not only clashed with the native population but they also brought farming methods which displaced native animals. Wolves were particularly targeted for their attacks on stock. In the contest between man and beast it is inevitable that the wolves were hunted almost to extinction using cruel methods like trapping and poisoning. One of the last was a legendary wolf which came to be known as King Lobo. Wolf hunter and naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton is called in, eventually trapping his cunning prey, but at the last moment he questions the killing of such noble animals. In this graphic retelling of Seton's short story, Lobo: The king of Currumpaw 1898, William Grill beautifully puts the story in perspective with a lovely sense of place and time. The pastel illustrations graphically tell the story both in series of small pictures and double page spreads. The text lightly links the images, inviting sharing the large format book and reading aloud; there is much to look at while listening to the story. Seton's legacy is that his changed attitude led to him devoting the rest of his life to conserving American wildlife especially wolves. His inspiration, nearly 100 years later led to the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.
Younger readers will find the pictures easy to follow but may need help with the text. Older readers may find a lot to discuss in the evolution of man's relationship with wild animals and how attitudes may be changed over time and through experience. There is a lot to learn too from the graphic storytelling in the illustrations.
Sue Speck

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