“A Wolf Called Wander” by Rosanne Parry (Greenwillow Books)

Parents need to know that “A Wolf Called Wander” is a tale “narrated” by real-life, famed far-roaming wolf OR-7 (called Swift here), collared with a radio transmitter by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2011 to track his movements. The story traces Swift’s life from puppyhood with his family to his loss of them all in an attack by another pack and the migrations that took him over hundreds of miles and several interstates in Oregon and California before settling down and making a family of his own. (As of the book’s writing, he and his mate are alive and well in Oregon.) Author Rosanne Parry packs a lot of information about wolves into the story, as well as an appendix with many facts and resources. She also spins a vivid, exciting, relatable narrative of an overwhelmed orphan who suddenly has to fend for himself as enemies take over his family’s home, and the challenges and decisions he faces as he tries to stay alive and true to his parents’ teaching — and maybe even find other wolves. The lead character is a predator who lives by hunting, so there’s a lot of vivid but non-gratuitous detail about hunting and eating prey. Family members are killed by people and by other wolves, and assorted animals give birth, though the young wolf-narrator is amazed when a baby horse is born right out in the open instead of in a den, as the wolves would do.


Young wolf Swift lives happily with his family in the mountains until another pack kills his father and scatters them all to an unknown fate. Unable to go home, he becomes A Wolf Called Wander as he struggles to survive and travels hundreds of miles from his birthplace, hoping to find others of his kind and a new home. As he makes his way through forest and flatland, over water and highways, he struggles to stay true to his family’s values while seeing many new sights and facing dangers his mother never told him about.


This vivid, fact-based narrative of orphaned yearling wolf OR-7’s unusually wide travels strikes a chord in the hearts of animal-loving readers and delivers a lot of science in the process. As he roams in search of a new home and family, facing many dangers and seeing many new things from a wolf’s-eye view, young Swift hunts and devours a lot of prey, loses many loved ones to humans and other wolves, and often struggles not to lose hope. The story will appeal mostly to kids who love animals, science, and nature. A lengthy appendix includes the OR-7 story, lots of scientific information about wolves, and suggestions for further reading.


Recommended for ages 9 and older

Quality: 5 out of 5

Educational value: 5 out of 5

Positive messages: 4 out of 5

Positive role models: 4 out of 5

Violence: 3 out of 5

Sex: 0 out of 5

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Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 0 out of 5


Author: Rosanne Parry

Illustrator: Mónica Armiño

Genre: Animals

Book type: Fiction

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Publication date: May 7, 2019

Number of pages: 25

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