Since the age of ten, Michelle Paver dreamed about running with wild
wolves in the prehistoric forest; but living in London her options were
limited! She grew up and became a lawyer, but eventually realized that wasn't where her heart was and started to write
books for adults (including The Shadow Catcher and Fever Hill),
then one day she came across her long discarded story notes about a boy and
a wolf and all her childhood obsessions came flooding back!
Wolf Brother is the first in a planned six part series set 6,000 years ago in the forests of Northern Europe. It's a fantastic adventure set in a meticulously researched world of hunter-gatherers, which, as Paver comments, is a misleading term that conjures up a picture of someone casually spotting a clump of berries and saying, 'Oh, good, I think I'll gather some of those'. In reality, hunter-gatherers were unbelievably skilled (a point also made by Jared Diamond in his classic Guns, Germs and Steel, in which, if I recollect correctly, he makes a compelling case that as a result of natural selection and their environment, the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea are, on average, more intelligent than so called 'first world*' inhabitants).
We read Wolf Brother as a family and enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend this series for ages 9 through to teenagers. Most reviewers seem to feel that it wouldn't be of interest to those over the age of about 14, but I think that's a little restrictive. This first book lays the groundwork for a classic adventure/quest, coming of age story - and as such, I think, would hold appeal for many teens.
The next book in the series, Spirit Walker was released in the UK last year, and will be published in the USA/Canada in early March. My 10-year-old daughter has read it and rated it 'fantastico!'.
*We're all familiar with the word 'third world' and most probably with the term 'first world', but where did these terms come from, and what happened to the 'second world'? find out more.
This review was originally published in March 2005, and has been updated for the February 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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