A berry-picking excursion turns potentially frightening when a girl wanders from her mother and encounters a wolf.
Despite her mother’s warning to stay close as night approaches, the girl finds herself lost in the woods and feeling “cold and scared.” In classic wolf-narrative style, a “tall grey wolf with big white teeth” appears, but unlike those in many traditional tales, this lupine offers help. Only by balancing experiential knowledge (identifying berries that are safe to eat) with instinctual trust (following the wolf’s guidance) can the girl hope to reunite with her family. Poetic descriptions and spare prose combine with simple yet textured mixed-media illustrations to create a story with a deeply cinematic quality. Readers will likely infer the girl and her mother are First Nations peoples due to illustrator Flett’s (Cree-Métis) visual cues of brown skin, black hair, and moccasins and through author Vermette’s (Métis) textual reference of tying tobacco in cloth to leave as a thank-you. Muted, earth-toned images give depth while allowing the girl to stand out in her red dress. Though similar to stories from the oral tradition or even the European canon, this is “a completely made-up story.” It’s got a worthy message for any reader to enjoy, and Indigenous and First Nations readers will especially connect with characters who nourish traditional ways of knowing while existing in an active, contemporary present.
A tale about knowledge, power, and trust that reminds readers we used to speak with animals and still do—it already feels like a classic. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-5)