It has taken me exactly a year to read this book by Katherine Rundell I received for Christmas last year. What do they say – good things are worth waiting for? (Even though I am more of a if-you-want-it-go-and-get-it kind of person. I mean, sometimes, when I’m feeling like leaving my bed.)
Anyway, this one was a wonderful experience. Firstly, what a great job on the book design, as well as the actual illustrations inside the book. I am one who would take black and white over bright colours any (and every) day, and I love when simple monochrome illustrations make it into a children’s book. The artist for The Wolf Wilder is Gelrev Ongbico, whose work is absolutely stunning – even in colour as the cover page illustration.
As for the story, it is one of wonder, kindness, passion and belief in what you do, and friendship. You know, all you would want children (and adults!) to read.
Feodora, a young girl who lives happily in the middle of the Russian woods with her mother, not hurting anybody, and taking care of a couple of wolves (when they feel like it, since, you know… they are not pets), is torn out of her world when the Russian soldiers decide that wolves are, in fact, very dangerous and inconvenient for them, and capture Feo’s mother as an example of what happens to those who do not follow the orders. That’s when Feo befriends one of the soldiers, a young boy, and together they set off ‘on an adventure’ of sorts, to save Feo’s mother who is imprisoned in St Petersburg by an evil general Rakov.
A couple of my favourite things about the story – it is set in Russia and it actually sticks to its settings. The names of the characters are Russian, and while reading you actually get sucked into the Russian wilderness, cold, and soldier regime. As well as that, the story doesn’t try too hard, rather, it flows smoothly, logically, and without glitches and plot holes which would tear you out of the story and confuse you (and make you hate the author, screaming ‘whyyyy’). The children in the story, and there is a lot of them, are all strong characters with distinct personalities, and although some were not really developed over the necessary bit, I do see that there was no space, nor reason, for it. Is it just me who wouldn’t mind a children’s Anna Karenina? Oh, and did I mention stunning artwork accompanies the story?
If you are looking for a really good story to keep you up all night, I would say go for this one. If you are not a child, still do so, maybe more so (reading children’s is the new cool, haven’t you heard?). And if you know a child, get the book for them, and watch their eyes glisten with excitement and their minds fall in love with a story about a girl, a boy, and a pack of wolves.