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Once A Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf (Scientists in the Field Series) Hardcover – March 26, 1999

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Library Binding edition (March 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395898277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395898277
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 11.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,461,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-The excitement of science in action fills the pages of these two books. Montgomery focuses on one man and his research on the red-sided garter snake in Canada. The lively text communicates both the meticulous measurements required in this kind of work and the thrill of new discoveries. Large, full-color photos of the zoologist and young students at work, and lots of wriggly snakes, pull readers into the presentation. A list of "unsolved mysteries" about the snakes and instructions on visiting the snake dens will keep interest high to the very last page. Swinburne gives a historical perspective on the extermination of wolves from the Lower 48 states and details the work of biologists in their efforts to reintroduce the animals into Yellowstone National Park. Vintage illustrations (including pictures of dead wolves) and excellent full-color photos document a struggle that, unfortunately, is far from over. A map showing current and historical wolf ranges and a list for further reading that includes books, periodicals, and Web sites are helpful additions. Two outstanding titles that show scientists at work.
Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Drawing on myth, legend, history, and science, Swinburne recounts the efforts of conservationists to reintroduce the wolf to the American landscape. Stunning photographs reflect the quiet dignity of this much-maligned creature. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

The Short Version

Steve was born in London, England. He holds a BA degree in Biology and English from Castleton State College in Vermont. He has worked as a ranger in a number of national parks and is the author of over 25 children's books. His extensive travels to faraway lands such as Africa and treks through Yellowstone have all influenced his book projects. Steve's first mid-grade novel, WIFF AND DIRTY GEORGE, will appear Spring 2010. He lives in Vermont with his wife Heather and a cat named Skittles.

The Long Version

My mother, Lily, had me at Marleyborne Hospital in London, England, at 11 o'clock in the morning on November 8, 1952. My father, William Swinburne, worked on trains delivering mail to faraway places all over England. I think that's where I get my love of trains. I was the middle kid--my brother, Peter was a year older, and my sister, Madeline, a year younger. We lived at 7 Wolsey Road in north London, a poor neighborhood of attached brick houses, narrow streets and endless chimneys poking the sky. During World War 2, a bomb from a German plane made a direct hit on the only pub on our street. One person was killed and the pub was rebuilt into a new pub called The Lady Mildmay.

My best friend on 7 Wolsey Road was a kid named George. Mom considered him scruffy and nasty. She called him Dirty George. I was dubbed Wiff. It seems neither of us cared much for soap and water. When we weren't mucking about the streets, we fought other neighborhood kids. Sometimes we'd chuck stones at each other. Once, a well-thrown stone split open my upper lip.

When I was almost 8, we moved from England to America. Mom, Peter, Madeline and I boarded the Queen Elizabeth in Southampton in southern England on April 20, 1960. We landed in New York City five days later. Southampton was the same port the Titanic departed from on April 10, 1912. They hoped to arrive in New York City on April 15, but the ship struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 and sank almost 3 hours later.

I remember two things about our passage on the Queen Elizabeth: sitting in the swanky dining room being served by waiters in their crisp white uniforms. I looked down at the table setting and saw a 100 knives, forks and spoons. Which ones did I use first? The other memory that stands out was when we were docking in New York City. My mother held my sister in her arms and stood at the rail, leaning over, searching for my father along the wharf. When the ship's horn blasted behind us, my mother jumped nearly spilling my sister into New York harbor far below. What a welcome that would have been!

Age 8 to 17 was a blur of moving houses (my dad liked to switch houses every 2 years), new schools, new friends and fights with my brother and sister culminating in my parents divorce in 1970. All those years I took refuge in listening to The Beatles and writing in journals. I remember yanking the bed sheets over my head, flipping on a tiny flashlight and scratching words into 5-cent journal. I've kept journals and dairies all my life and think it's a great place to fall in love with words.

Growing up, I wanted to be an adventurer, a naturalist or marine biologist. Ever since I can remember, I've put words on paper and I feel so fortunate to make a living writing, exploring new places, learning about the amazing creatures we share this planet with.

I still would like to be an adventurer or marine biologist. One day. And I think a rock star would be kind of cool, too.

Steve holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology and English from Castleton State College, Vt. He has worked as ranger in a number of national parks.

He loves to travel and observe nature and wildlife. A safari in Africa, hiking in Scotland, monitoring sea turtles on a Georgia island, a winter trek through Yellowstone and watching shorebirds in New York have all led to book projects.

He lives in South Londonderry, Vermont, with his wife Heather and daughters Hayley and Devon.

When Steve is not writing and photographing children's books, he loves to sing and play Beatle songs on his Gibson guitar, garden, read, travel with his family and take pictures.

Steve's photography has appeared in magazines such as COUNTRY JOURNAL, VERMONT LIFE, GARDEN DESIGN, FAMILY FUN and HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just took a look at this book and was so impressed. The subject is fascinating, of course, but I'm especially taken with the clear, cogent writing, the terrific quotes, and the truly remarkable photographs. I definitely recommend this for any kid (or adult, for that matter) with an interest in wildlife.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My 7 year old and I read this book together recently and I think that I learned as much as she did.
I knew about reintroduction of wild wolves into Yellowstone but this book told the whole story. Get ready to be impressed with personal sagas of determination and bravery on the part of people who care about wild things.
In 1973, while on a field trip in Jasper Park, Alberta, I saw two wild wolves (a white and a black) bounding and romping in the snow. I will never forget the wildness of that sight. This book is richly illustrated with photographs of wolves that give you a glimpse of that wildness.
Get this book and read it with a child to share what Rachel Carson called that "sense of wonder" that children have. Be prepared to explain why we systematically exterminated the wolf from its range throughout the United States and why we paid people to kill wolf puppies.
This book is a moving, thoughtful lesson in ecology for children of all ages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Erin K. Darling on September 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jim Brandenberg always brings the wolf into our homes vividly and with great skill through his photographs, and in this book, these exquisite photos are paired up with the informative writing of Stephen Swinburne. Swinburne covers an excellent range of topics in this short (but highly-informative) book, including the history of the wolf's extermination in this country, early conservationists, wolf behavior and social structure, myth-busting, the Yellowstone project, and the wolf's future prospects.
He brings in quotes and information from Leopold, Mech, Bangs, Askins, and many other notable figures in the wolf conservation movement to give correct facts and information. I wouldn't call this a book for younger children; it's written at perhaps a teenager's level, and younger children might find the statistics and assorted other information boring. However, Swinburne does cover the bittersweet story of wolves Numbers Nine and Ten, which personalizes the struggles wolves today face.
Swinburne manages to succinctly cover most of the important issues in this relatively brief book (about a half hour's read, perhaps 45 minutes,) and it's a great way to educate yourself or someone else on the basics of wolf conservation. Highly-recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary-Rose Kent on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
A study in the perserverance and dedication of a group of people to bring the wolf back to its own enviroment in the wildernesses of Yellowstone Montanna. Full of information this book will elate you as well as sadden you, but the winner here of course is the wolf who once more runs free on his land.
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