Title: A Friend For Lakota: The Incredible True Story of a Wolf who Braved Bullying
Authors and photographers: Jim and Jamie Dutcher
Publisher: The National Geographic Society, 2015
Themes/topics: wolves, hierarchy, friendship, bullying
Source: review copy from publisher.
Spring blooms over the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. Wild flowers splash patches of bright colors across the meadows. And a young wolf pup, Lakota, rolls in the fresh green grass.
Lakota spends all day playing. He turns every rock, log, and stick into a toy. His days are simple and fun.
But in a wolf’s world, things can change quickly.
Lakota is a young, timid but playful wolf pup in a pack in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. His greatest pleasure is romping the mountains with his brother, Kamots. Kamots is the opposite to Lakota, dull of bravery and fearless. Play continues through the winter months, but in the spring their mom gives birth to three more pups and now they’re a real pack. Not surprisingly bold, brash Kamots becomes the leader and sweet Lakota takes on the role of helping the wolves to get along with each other. Lakota is always submissive at the bottom of the pack hierarchy, which works for a while, but then one of his brothers starts picking on him and being aggressive toward him. Things look precarious for a while for Lakota until another brother, Matsi intervenes and befriends Lakota, becoming a kind of protector. This friendship is enduring and brave. And while Lakota still observes younger pups sometimes being bullied, he never picks on any other wolves.
Why I like this book:
Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived in a tented camp in these Idaho mountains for six years observing intimately the social interaction of their neighboring wolves. They have produced three documentary films about their research and have won three Emmys and I am thrilled that they are bringing this true story to very young readers with this beautiful picture book. The text is simple, and the social interaction of the wolves, Lakota’s playfulness and the message of overcoming bullying are powerful and pertinent for young readers. The photography is stunning. My favorite page is Matsi and Lakota on hind legs embracing each other in friendship. This is a delightful book for any young animal-lovers and can certainly be used in the classroom for any units on North American species, animal behavior and/or conservation. Readers will come to understand the many challenges wolves in the wild face today.
- Check out the nonprofit organization founded by the Dutchers, Living with Wolves.
- There are several reference pages at the back of the book: lists of websites and books to discover more about wolves as well as places in the USA and around the world where wolves can be observed (when I lived in Nice, we had a great wolf park just north of us in the mountains, http://www.alpha-loup.com/), a map of the location of grey wolves in North America and a page on facts about the grey wolves.
- Adopt a grey wolf. https://secure.defenders.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=wagc_graywolf&s_src=3WEW1600XXXXX&s_subsrc=100215_adopt_body_gray-wolf/what-you-can-do