At first glance, Lone Wolf by debut author Sarah Kurpiel is a sweet story about a husky dog questioning and then recognizing her real place within her real family. And that in and of itself makes this a delightfully sweet story to read with children, especially since it’s told from the point of view of Maple, said husky. However, upon closer examination of this story and the illustrations, it is so much more than just a story about a dog finding her place in her pack. Read on to see a few things that make Lone Wolf so delightful!
*** Affiliate links used. A big thank you to HarperCollins Children’s Books for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own.
First, and most important to the story, is that when you read this story closely, you’ll notice that the girl in the story, Avery, uses a power wheelchair to get around, just as Kurpiel herself does! When thinking about diverse and inclusive bookshelves, we need to remember to include books featuring children with various disabilities, too. However, finding books that feature characters with disabilities without making the disability the focal point of the story can be difficult, and we need to see these children living their normal lives, too!
Then, take some time to think about the bigger message of the story. Yes, this is a story about a dog finding her place in her family pack. But, the deeper meaning here will likely resonate with all children, who at some point might wonder if they would have fit better in a different family. Ultimately, the love we have for the members of our pack is what makes our family, not what we have in common with them (or what others think we should have in common…). Lone Wolf is perfectly written to read while snuggled with your little ones!
Finally, as you are delighting in this sweet story and the inclusion of a person with a physical disability making her way through everyday life, be sure to notice the other incredible details that Kurpiel hides in the illustrations throughout the story! Keen observers (and patient dog owners) will love the dog toy chewed such that its stuffing is falling out, the nocturnal eyes peering out from a hole in the tree, the fact that the small print in a diagram confirms that Maple is usually thinking about food, or the wheel-chair using bull terrier in the endpapers.
If you liked this, you might also love When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb, illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard or Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat. As I stated above, though, I really love that Kurpiel shows Avery living her normal life, though in her wheelchair, without making the wheelchair the focus of the story. What other picture books can you all think of that show characters with physical disabilities in normal, everyday situations?
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