A Friend for Lakota – Perfect Picture Book Friday

lakotaTitle: 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

Ages: 5-8

Themes/topics: wolves, hierarchy, friendship, bullying

Source: review copy from publisher.

Opening:

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.

Synopsis:

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.

Because gray wolf populations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho had recovered sufficiently to meet the goals of the Wolf Recovery Plan, on May 4, 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the status of the gray wolf population known as the Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment from Endangered to Experimental Population-Non Essential. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Because gray wolf populations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho had recovered sufficiently to meet the goals of the Wolf Recovery Plan, on May 4, 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the status of the gray wolf population known as the Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment from Endangered to Experimental Population-Non Essential. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

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12 Responses to A Friend for Lakota – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Andrea Mack says:

    This sounds like a great story!

  2. I have enjoyed your National Geographic nonfiction book reviews. This one sounds especially interesting because so many kids understand bullying. Teaching about hierarchy in the wolf/animal community is very interesting. The photography looks stunning! Books like this touch my heart.

    • Joanna says:

      Yes, I have been receiving some great Nat Geo books to review. I do try and select only books I think I will really enjoy, I confess.

  3. Wow! Love the photos! I think kids are always fascinated by wolves and will find it interesting that a behavior like bullying crosses over into nature. There’s a very fascinating TED talk about what happened when the wolves returned to Yellowstone area – how the entire ecosystem was affected. Thanks for sharing the book!

  4. What a great way to introduce kids to the difficulties – and similarities – wild animals are faced with too. There have been more sightings of wolves in Germany recently, probably coming over form Poland.

    • Joanna says:

      Great to hear there are some natural wolf migrations happening in Europe. They have been introduced in a couple of mountain areas in France but with fierce opposition from shepherds.

  5. Keila Dawdon says:

    Kids would definitely relate to this story. The idea of exploring the natural world is so necessary, especially today. Great way to explore through animals.

  6. Wow…a true story! I love that, Joanna.
    How amazing that they lived in close proximity to the wolves…and even better, that they are sharing their experiences with children through this book.

  7. My copy of this book is sitting on my desk waiting for me to get to it! well – gotta move it to the top of that pile, now.

  8. Wendy Greenley says:

    The authors’ dedication is amazing. I can not imagine living in a tent for 6 years! Betting I will love the photos in this book.

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