WOLF ON THE FOLD by Judith Clarke
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 12 & up
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“The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold / And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,” begins the Lord Byron poem whose opening lines serve as a central metaphor in this short-story collection. The six related stories, which focus on or mention the same family through four generations, are about adolescents and children who deal with harsh realities—the wolves swooping down on the innocent. The different protagonists struggle with poverty, war, and death, and more mundane issues like aging relatives and parents’ failing marriage. In one case, a girl named Frances “is afraid of anything,” as if a bad fairy had christened her with “the invisible gift of a sinking heart.” Yet moments of grace, kindness, and courage sustain the protagonists. In the winter of 1935, 14-year-old Kenny Sinclair survives an encounter with a crazed stranger by silently repeating the Byron poem’s first stanza. In 1957, an elderly relative whose mind is slipping teaches Frances a prayer, “Angels and ministers of grace, defend us,” to get the girl through her anxious nights. The emotionally intense stories explore themes about family, friendship, and intolerance through well-crafted vignettes and convincing dialogue. Clarke, author of the haunting novel Night Train (2000), as well as the hilarious Al Capsella series, won the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award for this quiet, heartrending collection. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 30th, 2002
ISBN: 1-886910-79-0
Page count: 176pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002


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