From the author of The Matchlock Gun.
The Wolf has haunted his homeland for as long as Danny Gallager can remember. Most wolves run in packs, but not this one – he’s a loner. He’ll swoop down on a sheep before anyone knew he was anywhere near and carry it off with a massive show of strength. Something has to be done.
After the Wolf killed two of Danny’s sheep, Danny’s Uncle Hocty Sands decided that it was time to hunt the beast down. Danny begged to go with him – he knew the tramp through the snow covered forest would be hard, but he wanted more than anything to catch that Wolf. Uncle Hocty agreed, and the two of them began a long trek through the woods following the track of a killer!
Walter D. Edmonds is the author of one of my favorite children’s stories, The Matchlock Gun. That story is set during the early settlement of America and features a brave young boy who uses a family inheritance to defend his family from marauding Indians. It’s a story about hardships, bravery, and honor. It’s just splendid. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited to get my hands on this story, set just after the American War for Independence, and couldn’t wait to dig my teeth into it. So were those expectations disappointed?
The answer is “no”. No, my expectations were not disappointed – I expected a story about a boy who is required to push against a hardship and come out a more mature man. I expected a genuine American frontier story replete with antique rifles and the still-recent presence of the American War for Independence. These expectations were both met; Walter Edmonds actually included quite a bit of Revolutionary War history through the medium of fireside conversations between Danny and his Uncle Hocty. And the story was certainly about a boy’s progression into manhood.
So on one hand, the story was everything I could have wanted. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. And unlike with some stories where I can’t understand my unattatchment, I know exactly why it wasn’t as enjoyable for me. It’s because the story was about not only a hunt, but about the breaking of a magnificent beast’s will.
I haven’t got a bloody thing against hunting – especially when an animal needs to be killed, as this animal did. But I don’t enjoy reading books in which the entire story arc is based upon the systematic harrying of an animal – the pushing of that animal to the breaking point – the destruction of its will. Because when it comes down to animals, I’m just a big softie. I don’t mind an animal dying if it’s been portrayed as being utterly evil, but if the slightest sympathy is shown it by the author, I’m lost. And if, as Edmonds did, the growing weakness – the halting limp of the wolf – is described, then I can take no pleasure in its destruction.
Edmond showed an intuitive touch in his story – he gave Danny the same reaction. When, in the end, the two have cornered the wolf and the wolf stands willlessly before them, Danny cannot bring himself to shoot the wolf. It takes Uncle Hocty, a trail-hardened man, to pull the trigger.
The story is illustrated and includes a picture of the Wolf attacking a sheep. There is another that shows a dead ram. These illustrations aren’y gory, but the concept is violent. Also, the killing of the Wolf is described.
‘D***’, ‘h***’, and ‘God’ are each used once.
Conclusion. A good story – young boys will probably enjoy the story more than girls. :)
Review © 2014 Laura Verret