The Wolf Keepers
Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2016
From the dust jacket, “Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango has always had a zoo to call home. Her dad is the head zookeeper at a California wildlife park named after famous naturalist John Muir, and Lizzie has brown up bottle-feeding llamas and handling boa constrictors. One afternoon while roaming the zoo grounds, she bumps into Tyler Briggs, a runaway how has been hiding out at the zoo and noticing strange happenings after dark. The two becomes friends and are soon drawn into a mystery that involves dying wolves, a cursed canyon, and the legend of John Muir’s lost cabin. Little do they know their alliance will take them deep into Yosemite National Park on a high stakes adventure that will put their lives in peril.”
I would love to live in a zoo like Lizzie! So many animals to spy on – plus free food! I enjoyed reading this adventure/mystery novel. It was fast paced and provided some insight into how zoos operate, as well as about the nature of wolves. The Alpha wolf, Lobo, is written with such depth and beauty, you can feel the wolf’s breath on you as he inches closer. I’ve never been west of the Mississippi so Yosemite Park is a mystery to me, but after reading Lizzie’s and Tyler’s journey through the canyons, I feel as if I was actually there.
There are some heart wrenching moments – dying wolves, one of the two kids being swept away by a rushing river, and a stalking bear. I was afraid throughout the middle part of the book thinking, “The wolves aren’t actually dead, are they?” (You’ll find no spoilers here!) At the end the kids are faced with a huge moral decision, which I’m not so sure I agreed with their choice. What would you do if you had a friend who had kittens at home that were starving (and you couldn’t help them) and they went to the store twice and stole cans of tuna? Would you turn them in? On the surface the right – and legal – thing to do is to turn them in for theft; however, if you did that, then the authorities would find out, your friend might go to jail, and the kittens would be taken away. Plus the situation forces you to lie to the people you love the most and keep secrets from them. What would you do? That’s the question Lizzie and Tyler must answer; that is a question I certainly wouldn’t want to answer. Makes for some serious heart searching.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws!