The Country of Wolves
This sophisticated picture book may resemble a graphic novel in style, but it unwinds with a storyteller's cadence and pacing.
Based on the animated film Amaqqut Nunaat: The Country of Wolves, released in 2011, the book uses images derived from film stills, smoothly integrated into the story. Menacing, lupine expressions on human faces appear on the endpapers, and the title page depicts a pack of wolves racing with a full moon as backdrop--a foreshadowing of the conflict to come. The moon's glow seems to light the vast Northern scene where caribou roam: "In the winter, our land is a place of ice, snow, wind, and darkness." Two brothers set out to hunt food for their village and find themselves adrift on an ice floe. They finally land on an unfamiliar beach, and discover a village. Ramón Pérez's artwork shows an igloo, lit from within, that perfectly simulates light shining through ice, as the younger brother follows "strange noises" to ask for help. The artist contrasts this setting with the subtler glow of a "qulliq" that heats a wizened woman's dwelling where the older brother goes. Her mysterious aura and cryptic words ("The land has never been safe for your kind") heighten the suspense, as the siblings each do battle in the Country of Wolves in an attempt to return home.
Neil Christopher's spare, poetic text and Pérez's chilling illustrations--especially the sequence of the village inhabitants' transformation into wolves--make this a spinetingling ghost story appropriate for older children. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness