Review Blog

Dec 02 2012

The boy who howled by Timothy Power

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Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781599908526.
(Age 8-12) Recommended. Callum lives in the Wild with his family, a pack of North American Gray Wolves. To Mom he is a 'furless mascot', Dad sees him as dinner and his Aunt Trudy, Uncle Rick and Grandpa tolerate him because Mom, as Alpha female, protects him.
Whilst he has vague recollections of a human family, having been adopted by Mom who found him abandoned in a clearing when he was three, Callum crawls along on hands and knees with the pack, trying desperately to fit in, and avoid being eaten.  
As the story begins Callum is about to be left at the edge of the wood to fend for himself, having been supplied with clothes from a school bag Mom stole earlier from a camp site in the woods.
This begins Callum's education into the ways of the human world. Not only does he need to relearn how to communicate, though he seems to have a remarkably good memory of language from his pre wolf pack days, he needs to learn to fit into the social structure of the human world.
As luck would have it Callum, or Clam as he calls himself, is wearing the uniform of the Hargrove Academy for the Gifted Bright and Perceptive Child and consequently begins school which brings a new set of problems. One day with a class of his peers is more complicated than living in the wolf pack.
He meets a range of quirky and interesting characters, Tom, Dick and Harry, the homeless men and Buzz Optigon, world famous wildlife wrangler, amongst them who help him develop his social skills.
Recommended for 8-12 year olds this book will appeal to boys who may identify with Callum's struggle to understand where he fits and how to behave. Identifying different characters such as Billy the bully, as an Alpha male but discovering his behaviour is not in keeping with a leader, is a lesson for both Callum and the reader. Whilst the family reunion and ending seem a little subdued and I was disappointed we didn't meet the wolf pack again, the author's use of humour throughout will appeal to even the reluctant reader
Sue Keane

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