Wolf Pack of the Winisk River

Wolf Pack of the Winisk River

By Andrea Belcham

A review of Wolf Pack Of The Winisk River by Paul Brown

Published on June 1, 2009

Wolf Pack Of The Winisk River
Paul Brown

Lobster Press
$10.95
paper
190pp
978-1-897550-10-6

Paul Brown’s Wolf Pack of the Winisk River doesn’t adopt a teen’s point of view, yet it will surely appeal to youth with an interest in ecology and the Canadian wilderness. The book uses free verse to recount the springtime journey of a northern grey wolf as he and his pack make their way along Ontario’s Winisk River in search of food. The narrative perspective constantly swings from wolf to the animals and people he passes or meets along the way, reinforcing the connection between all creatures in this natural environment:

a pair of fun-loving chickadees
buzz back and forth past Wolf’s
head like tiny black-and-white
helicopters

Brown manages to characterize the wolf without resorting to anthropomorphism, still winning the reader over to the wolf’s “side” – even when he’s feasting on the entrails of a newly killed bull caribou. The pack traverses a thawing landscape full of dangers – including a snowy owl’s talons and a protective mother polar bear – and pleasures, like the games played by the cubs as their elders stalk prey. Besides the wolf’s struggle for survival, another key subject is the treatment of the land and its animals by humans, who run the gamut from beer-swilling trophy hunters to the cautious canoeists and their Cree guide. This novel, a first for Brown, will win over younger (or more reluctant, older) readers with its stunning imagery and action-packed plot. (Ages 10+) mRb

Andrea Belcham lives in Saint-Lazare, where many of her best neighbours are trees.

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