Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

A Wolf Called Wander

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Wolf Called Wander Book Poster Image
Exciting, vivid fictionalized autobiography of famed wolf.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A fictionalized account of the wolf known as OR-7, famous for his long migrations between Oregon and California. Includes much detail about wolves, their lives in the wild, their families and social structures, etc. A lengthy appendix includes the OR-7 story and lots of scientific information about wolves. In one scene, an astonished young wolf watches a baby horse being born, a messy but ultimately happy process. Wolves give birth in the privacy of their dens.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about family, courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and respect for yourself, your loved ones, and all of nature.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Swift's lost family is a model of loving, caring relationships: devoted, protective parents and an extended pack that helps guard and nurture the puppies. Their memory sustains him in his wanderings and guides him when he's not sure of the right thing to do, or how to do it. In turn he becomes brave, resourceful, self-sacrificing in looking out for his loved ones.

Violence

Swift, the young wandering wolf, is a predator, so there are many scenes involving hunting and eating prey; descriptions are not gratuitously gory or scary, but don't soft-pedal the seriousness, either. Some of Swift's family members are killed by humans and other wolves, others disappear and their fates remain unknown. Swift is often alone, endangered, frightened.

Sex
Language

Occasional references to marking your territory with pee and poop, by various species.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Wolf Called Wander is a tale "narrated" by real-life, famed far-roaming wolf OR-7 (called Swift here), collared with a radio transmitter by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2011 to track his movements. The story traces Swift's life from puppyhood with his family to his loss of them all in an attack by another pack, and the migrations that took him over hundreds of miles and several interstates in Oregon and California before he settled down and made a family of his own. (As of the book's writing, he and his mate are alive and well in Oregon.) Author Rosanne Parry packs a lot of information about wolves into the story, as well as an appendix with many facts and resources. She also spins a vivid, exciting, relatable narrative of an overwhelmed orphan who suddenly has to fend for himself as enemies take over his family's home, and the challenges and decisions he faces as he tries to stay alive and true to his parents' teaching -- and maybe even find other wolves. The lead character is a predator who lives by hunting, so there's a lot of vivid but non-gratuitous detail about hunting and eating prey. Family members are killed by people and by other wolves, and assorted animals give birth, though the young wolf-narrator is amazed when a baby horse is born right out in the open instead of in a den, as the wolves would do.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Young wolf Swift lives happily with his family in the mountains until another pack kills his father and scatters them all to an unknown fate. Unable to go home, he becomes A WOLF CALLED WANDER as he struggles to survive and travels hundreds of miles from his birthplace, hoping to find others of his kind and a new home. As he makes his way through forest and flatland, over water and highways, he struggles to stay true to his family's values while seeing many new sights and facing dangers his mother never told him about.

Is it any good?

This vivid, fact-based narrative of orphaned yearling wolf OR-7's unusually wide travels strikes a chord in the hearts of animal-loving readers and delivers a lot of science in the process. As he roams in search of a new home and family, facing many dangers and seeing many new things from a wolf's-eye view, young Swift hunts and devours a lot of prey, loses many loved ones to humans and other wolves, and often struggles not to lose hope. The story will appeal mostly to kids who love animals, science, and nature. A lengthy appendix includes the OR-7 story, lots of scientific information about wolves, and suggestions for further reading.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about wolves and their lives in the wild, as seen in A Wolf Called Wander and other stories. Why do you think wolves (real ones, magical ones, cartoon ones) are such a popular subject for storytelling?

  • As we share young Swift's wanderings, we see through his eyes that many animals have a lot in common, but they may have different approaches to doing the same thing -- like hunting alone vs. in groups. What other examples do you see in the animals around you?

  • What do you think of stories where a human author speaks in the voice of an animal (or other nonhuman) character? Do you think it's all part of good storytelling, or just silly?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love animals and adventure

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate