Sometime in prehistory, a crippled boy and his wolf companion face coming-of-age challenges.
Twelve-year-old Kai was not supposed to live. Born with a crippled foot, he would be a burden to his community, so his father left the infant Kai near a wolf den. Instead of killing him, though, the wolves nurture him. When Kai’s mother discovers her infant is still alive, she brings him back to the family, where he grows up bullied and considered cursed. One day, Kai brings home a weak, motherless wolf pup to raise—an unheard-of event. Beckhorn skillfully explores the early beginnings of the human-wolf interaction that led to modern-day dogs in heartwarming scenarios that show the growing bond between Kai and the pup, Uff. But when Uff is threatened by the community’s leader, Kai and Uff set out to try to survive on their own in the territory of the feared Ice Men. Painting her prehistoric world with now-extinct animals, pristine landscapes, and descriptions of survival techniques that will fascinate readers, Beckhorn also makes it an accessible one by giving Kai the fears and doubts of many adolescents searching for their roles in life. As Kai faces challenges, he comes to believe in his unique talents and, ultimately, in himself.
This bracing, well-told story, laced with themes of self-responsibility, compassion, and honor, is both vital and nourishing. (Historical fiction. 9-14)