The Wolves of Currumpaw
by William Grill
Flying Eye Books
2016, 80 pages, 9.7 x 12.1 x 0.6 inches
In the early 1800s, half a million wolves roamed North America, but by 1862 settlers began pouring in from Europe and the landscape started to change. “These were the dying days of the Old West and the fate of wolves was sealed in it," begins The Wolves of Currumpaw.
The Wolves of Currumpaw, released today, is a true story about a wolf named Old Lobo, and a skilled hunter, Ernest Thompson Seton. Lobo was part of notorious pack of wolves in 1893 who, for five years, raided the ranches and farms of the Currumpaw Valley in New Mexico. Nobody was able to catch the stealthy wolf, and the locals began to think Old Lobo, or the King as they called him at the time, possessed supernatural charms. The locals finally offered $1000 to anyone who could catch him. Expert hunters set out to track him and hunt him down, but like the Terminator, Lobo couldn’t be killed – until Canadian-raised Seton came into town.
SPOILER paragraph: The story ends tragically, and might not be appropriate for more sensitive children. Seton does succeed in taking Lobo down, a section of the book that was hard for me to read. But then Seton has deep regrets and becomes a changed man. As a writer and sudden activist, Seton devoted the rest of his life to raising awareness about wolves. He was also one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America.
Like William Grill’s other picture book, Shackleton’s Journey, Wolves is beautifully illustrated on thick textured paper with colored pencils. Wolves, which is based on Seton’s short story, Wild Animals I Have Never Known, is powerful, told as much by Grill's narrative as it is by his illustrations. Grill has chosen two interesting, not commonly taught histories as the subjects of his first two books, and I look forward to seeing what he brings us next.