By Katherine Rundell
Feodora “Feo” Petrovich and her mother Marina are “wolf wilders” who live in the snowy wilderness of Russia during the early 20th century with only wolves for company. This may seem like strange company for them to keep but they have a strange job. Their job is to “undomesticate” wolves who have been trained as pets for the Russian aristocracy but have grown too dangerous to own. As their owners wish to return them to the wild, they turn them over to Feo and her mother so that they may remind the wolves of their natural instincts and help them to survive when they’re reintroduced to the wild. This is a happy existence for both mother and daughter who live comfortably with their family of wolves until the evil and blood-thirsty General Rakov (ruler of the Tsar’s Imperial Army) orders the wolves to be destroyed. Unwilling to follow the General’s order, they are declared traitors which, of course, comes with its own consequences. As her mother is carted off to prison “for defiance of the Tsar”, Feo vows to save her and sets off with her 4-legged friends across the wintry wilderness to rescue her and stop the General.
Is this a folk tale or a survival story? Actually it feels like a bit of both. Feo’s loyalty, courage and bravery sustain the story as she sets out to do what’s right in the harshest of circumstances and gains a reputation as “the little wolf girl” among the Russian peasants and those who rule them.
Recommended for grades 4 – 6
Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)