Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WOLF by Valerie Hobbs


by Valerie Hobbs

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-31575-7
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

In the sequel to Sheep (2006), Hobbs revisits border collie Jack and his owner, Luke, on Olaf and Katrin’s ranch.

The tale is told in the third person alternately from the perspectives of Jack, remarkably clever even for a border collie, and, in italics, that of a lonely wolf that is bitten by a large rabid rodent and then begins menacing both sheep and sheepdogs. Given this setup, there’s plenty of action to sustain interest. After the wolf kills a sheep and then one of the dogs, and another dog goes missing, Luke is determined to track and shoot the animal. Jack, his constant companion, comes along of course, though he’s torn between protecting the sheep and the other dogs, concerned about impetuous Luke and fearing that he’s losing his strength to old age. A scene depicting Jack’s performance—and loss to a younger dog—in a county-fair sheepherding trial is poignant and affecting. While the italicized sections portraying the wolf’s point of view are sympathetic to his plight, the complex struggle between sheep farmers and predators is only hinted at and then somewhat minimized by using a rabid animal to represent the predator. Jack, as in his first outing, is an attractive, very likable main character, offering lots of appeal for pet lovers.

Dog owners all know how smart their pets are; readers will lap up Jack’s tale and beg for more. (Fiction. 8-12)