________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 8 . . . . December 9, 2005


Ghost Wolf. (Orca Echoes).

Karleen Bradford. Illustrated by Allan Cormack and Deborah Drew-Brook.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
59 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-55143-341-9.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Robert Groberman.

**½ /4


A cool breeze sprang up. Matt shivered. I am not afraid, he told himself. But he was. He peered into the trees. He could barely see the break in the bush where the trail began. He shoved his flashlight into this pocket and hooked his life jacket over his arm. Then he made his way to the trail opening. He grabbed the nearest tree and leaned forward into the blackness. Could he make out the trail? Yes. He thought he could. All he had to do was follow the path. It would be harder without a light, but as long as he didn’t blunder off into the trees he should be all right. He fought down his fear. He had made it here. He could make it back again. Of course he could!

Ghost Wolf is a simple story about Matt’s first trip to an overnight camp. During his two-week visit, Matt, who appears to be about 10 or 11, makes friends with some boys, is teased by one boy and slowly gains confidence and skills of independence. He surprises himself with how much he likes camp, but he cannot get over his fears of the dark and of the wolf calls at night. During the boys’ end-of-camp campout in the woods, Matt tells his bunkmates a story about his father’s saving a wolf from a leg-hold trap, an event that happened when his father was a young camper. Later that night, Matt finds himself alone in the dark woods, face to face with a white wolf, and he must overcome his two last fears in order to save himself.

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     This is an exciting story that boys will love. Matt’s apprehensions about summer camp are fears with which all children can identify. His need to belong to his group and his growing confidence as he feels accepted on his own terms make Matt an underdog character that the reader wants to see succeed.

     The language author Karleen Bradford uses can be challenging, but it will be mostly familiar to confident seven-year-old readers and average nine-year-olds. The story is set in a place that these children know about, and so references to “mosquitoes” and “portage” should not be a mystery to a child who has gone camping. Others might need a bit of help with such vocabulary. There are full-page, black-and-white illustrations on almost every third page of this 59-page novel. These illustrations closely mirror the text by which they are placed.


Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at David Brankin Elementary, Surrey, BC.


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