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Eye of the Wolf

by Daniel Pennac
Illustrated by Max Grafe
Translated by Sarah Adams, from the French

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2003
111 pages
ISBN: 0-7636-1896-9

Ages 9 - 12

A wolf torn away from the Yukon by hunters has been captive in a zoo for ten years when the boy first appears in front of his cage. The boy stares at the one-eyed wolf for hours, for days. The wolf, uncertain what to make of such tenacity, finally tries to meet the child's gaze, and is surprised when the boy closes one eye, placing them on equal terms. Their two eyes literally become the windows through which each observes the other's past. The wolf, raised in the wilderness of the far north, lost his freedom saving his sister, whose bravery and curiosity led her into the lair of the men who would kill her for her pelt. The boy, whose name is Africa, came from and traveled across that diverse continent. He witnessed war and environmental destruction, and his status as a child meant his fate was always determined by the others. One has paid a tremendous price for his loyalty; the other has been sustained throughout his extraordinary, mythical journey by the loyalty of animals who loved him even as adults were casting him away. Finally, the boy is adopted by loving adults, although they must flee their home when the land is stripped beyond recognition and drought sets in. Both boy and wolf now find themselves in "The Other World," our western world. In an act of compassion and solidarity, the boy embraces the wolf's pain as his own. In doing so, he teaches the wolf to trust, releasing him from the cage of his own bitterness in a mystical story that is firmly grounded in issues that young readers can connect with, such as friendship and trust, the ethics of wild animals in captivity, and the impact of environmental devastation. CCBC Categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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