cover image Julie's Wolf Pack

Julie's Wolf Pack

Jean Craighead George. HarperCollins, $16.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027406-1

George continues to write, with astounding intimacy, about the wolves she introduced in the Newbery-winning Julie of the Wolves. Here she focuses even more strongly on the wolves, with humans playing only bit parts in the wilderness plot. Kapu, his father dead, is now leader of the pack. With sullen Raw Bones waiting for his chance to defeat the young wolf, the pack traverses its vast territory, searching for food, shelter and safety. The rhythm of the years remains constant--fullness and starvation, battles and peace, new pups and death. Julie, now grown and about to marry, still has ties to the pack (e.g., when rabies threatens and again when Kapu is captured by wolf researchers, she steps in). The drama succeeds not because it revolves around human actions, but because of the author's complete command of the wolves' world. Without anthropomorphizing the wolves, George reveals behaviors parallel to many human emotions--fear, jealousy, joy, hunger. The story unfolds slowly but never founders; the pacing is purposeful and sure-footed. There is death, pain and sadness here, illness, human interference and disaster. But there is also a grandeur and dignity that give Julie's wolf pack a hopeful path in the eternal struggle on the Arctic field of dreams. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)