The way home for Wolf by Rachel Bright
Ill. by Jim Field. Orchard, 2019. ISBN 9781408349205
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, Caregivers, Lost. Assured wolf cub Wilf thinks he can do anything. He is full of confidence, itching to be grown up and lead the pack. When the pack needs to move because another animal has taken over their den, they must roam many miles, searching for a new home, through the snow and ice of the North Pole. Midwinter with the borealis lighting the night sky, they trudge on through snowfalls and blizzards. Wilf strays behind and when he recovers he has lost the pack. He has gone astray and is unsure of what to do. Setting down for the night the ice cracks beneath him and falling he is taken up by a watery unicorn who gathers him onto her tusk and lifts him onto the shore. Here she passes him over to her friend, Mr Walrus and he takes the young cub to Musk-Ox.
Each time he is passed from one animal to another readers will be excited to predict the rhyming word as they turn the page. The story is in four line rhyming stanzas, encouraging children to predict the last word of the next line, and marvel at the way the story is expressed. It makes easy reading and many of the phrases will stop the readers as they ponder the image presented. I loved the "howling of wolves" and the "wafting of fish" amongst others, and found myself reading it over again to check out the rhymes and word images.
The illustrations reflect the story, taking the reader into the cold and bleak northern Arctic, feeling lost with Wilf as he attempts to navigate the white and grey expanse. Field's use of white and grey, the dark and the shadows, is wonderful, making every reader feel alone in the wilderness with the wolf cub.
Wilf passes through a number of hands before he is reunited with his pack, and they huddle and cuddle their lost cub, welcoming him back to the pack. He is a wiser little cub.
A wonderful read aloud, this cautionary tale will be loved by all readers as they recognise the comfort of friendship and family, welcoming him home despite his bravado which helped him get lost in the first place.