Look to the North: A Wolf Pup Diary

Overview

Newbery Medalist Jean Craighead George lovingly tells the story of three wolf pups—from the moment they open their eyes to the time they lead the hunt. Lyrical passages in her wolf pup diary describe how the pups tumble and play and when they first learn to howl and talk wolk talk. Readers are reminded of the changes in nature that are happening in the lower 48 states as they "look to the north" to watch the wolf pups grow. Jean George's words and Lucia Washburn's breathtaking paintings give the reader a rare ...

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Overview

Newbery Medalist Jean Craighead George lovingly tells the story of three wolf pups—from the moment they open their eyes to the time they lead the hunt. Lyrical passages in her wolf pup diary describe how the pups tumble and play and when they first learn to howl and talk wolk talk. Readers are reminded of the changes in nature that are happening in the lower 48 states as they "look to the north" to watch the wolf pups grow. Jean George's words and Lucia Washburn's breathtaking paintings give the reader a rare glimpse of one of nature's noblest creatures: the wolf.

Author Biography:

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in a family of naturalists, Jean George has centered her life around writing and nature. She attended Pennsylvania State University, graduating with degrees in English and science. In the 1940s she was a member of the White House press corps and a reporter for the Washington Post. Ms. George, who has written over 90 books - among them My Side of the Mountain (Dutton), a 1960 Newbery Honor Book, and its sequels On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain (both Dutton) - also hikes, canoes, and makes sourdough pancakes. In 1991, Ms. George became the first winner of the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association's Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, which was presented to her for the "consistent superior quality" of her literary works.

Her inspiration for the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves evolved from two specific events during a summer she spent studying wolves and tundra at the Arctic Research Laboratory of Barrow, Alaska: "One was a small girl walkingthe vast ad lonesome tundra outside of Barrow; the other was a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park ... They haunted me for a year or more, as did the words of one of the scientists at the lab: 'If there ever was any doubt in my mind that a man could live with the wolves, it is gone now. The wolves are truly gentlemen, highly social and affectionate.'"

The mother of three children, Jean George is a grandmother who has joyfully red to her grandchildren since they were born. Over the years Jean George has kept 173 pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York. "Most of these wild animals depart in autumn, when the sun changes their behavior and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories."

Brief diary entries that mark the passage of the seasons introduce the events in the lives of three wolves as they grow from helpless pups to participants in their small pack's hunt.

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Editorial Reviews

Jean Craighead George
I love Wolf pups. They have called me to Alaska's alpine tundras to lie on my stomach and watch them play. They have lured me west to my friend the wolf trainer's, to hold them and feed them from bottles. They have included me in their pup games in Alaska and Montana. I have howled with them in Minnesota. And I have kept notes on them. Why do they love them so? In these nursing, tumbling, fighting, and growing children of the wild I see all children. And they are wonderful. Look to the north and love them, too.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Newbery winner George is a writer who can take the whole of nature and offer up its wonders with enthusiasm and grace. In this book for younger readers, she presents a poetic look at exactly what a wolf pup is like-and is learning-from its day of birth till it is full grown. Part of the book's charm is relating events of nature in the far north to those here at home: pups are born in our more southerly dandelion season; they learn hunting skills when our blueberries are ripe. First-time illustrator Washburn is totally in tune with George's text; her images evoke a marvelous sense of both animals and the barren beauty of the far north.
Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
The author, known for Julie of the Wolves (a Newbery Award-winner) and Julie, has written a picture book that introduces children to the different behaviors in a wolf society. It's hardly a pack mentality-George, who has studied wolves for 25 years, shows some fairly intricate wolf behaviors, from play to dominance. She matter-of-factly notes details that Walt Disney would have glossed over, such as the stalking of a wounded animal, or the adults' regurgitation of meat for the pups. Unfortunately, Washburn's acrylic illustrations DO have a tinge of Disney about them. They make the wolves look like stuffed animals, all furry and cuddly; they're more doglike than feral. Perhaps this is intentional, to make nature more accessible to tots. It's disappointing, though, given the fact-filled text. Somehow it's hard to imagine one of these cartoon-cute wolf cubs demanding a slab of vomited meat from the alpha male.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3George uses a journal approach to illuminate the first 10+ months of life for three wolf pups born to an alpine tundra pack. Each entry in the "diary" is prefaced with a message (in colored inks) to readers/listeners living south of the area telling them how to keep "tundra-time" in the framework of their own seasons. "When you see dandelions turning silver...." "When the yellow warblers return...." "When you are eating fresh blueberries...." Then, George writes, "Look to the north" and in the following paragraph(s), she describes the pups, their gradual development, and their environment. The lyrical text is accompanied by large, realistic acrylic paintings of the adult wolves, the pups, and their habitat along with small cameos of the southern remindersa clump of dandelions, a yellow warbler (the illustrator should consult a Peterson guide), ripe blueberries, etc. The author's research is impeccable, and her affection for her subject evident, affirmed in a personal note. Children will take pleasure in the simply worded narrative and the warm pictures, and will store some accurate wolf data in their memories, as well as take stronger note of their own habitats as they keep an eye out for dandelions, for fresh blueberries on the table, and for Halloween jack-o-lanterns on front porches.Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A charming but sentimental book about the first months in the lives of wolf pups, from birth to young adult. George (There's an Owl in the Shower, 1995, etc.) notes in the introduction that in the "nursing, tumbling, fighting, and growing children of the wild I see all children." The pups—Boulder, Scree, and Talus—play, chase, fight, challenge each other, develop specialties, learn to howl, hunt, and even care for an injured beta wolf. Talus, the smallest pup, rated the bottom of the pack, gains status because of his superior ability to sniff out game. Finally, the three of them wait for the next litter to be born. Children will enjoy the brief text and softly colored drawings of the pups, their parents, and baby-sitter. Washburn, in her first book, has created sweet tableaux of wolves in the wild: purple and lilac landscapes and fluffy, smiling wolves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060236403
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.34 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Craighead George (1919-2012) wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her previous books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Everglades.

Lucia Washburn has illustrated more than a dozen books for children. Her Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science books include Dinosaur Tracks, Dinosaurs Big and Small, and Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?, which has illustrations that "provide vivid visualizations of long-ago landscapes" (School Library Journal). Her other books include Look to the North by Jean Craighead George, a 1997 Parents' Choice Gold Award winner praised as "a fine addition to science collections" (ALA Booklist). When she travels, she and her family enjoy visiting the local museums to see their dinosaur collections. Being the mother of two children, she has a special fondness for Maiasaura. She lives in California with her family.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    An excellent child's book, beautifull illustrated.

    An excellent child's book, beautifull illustrated. Easy to read, this book relates the story of the life of a wolf pup that is growing up in the wilderness. Great for kids.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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