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The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History Hardcover – August 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Another addition to the Unsolved Mystery from History series, The Wolf Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple, illus. by Roger Roth, urges readers to act as detectives. The volume presents the evidence, then asks aspiring detectives to evaluate: were two girls brought to an orphanage in India abandoned by their parents or raised by wolves in the wild?
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-An unnamed narrator invites readers to investigate a historical mystery. In 1920, two sisters supposedly raised by wolves were taken to an orphanage in India. Joseph Singh, a missionary who cared for the girls after their discovery, offered varying stories as to how they came to be under his care. It's not only a mystery as to who the girls were, but also what the man's true motives were. Investigators are helped along throughout with explanations of such terms as "sal forest" and "bullock." Notes written on lined paper as if from a journal; the words and their definitions, which are set in small boxes; and text in large boxes are all superimposed on double-spread watercolor illustrations. The art serves to put the information offered in proper perspective. Evenhandedness is apparent throughout. The authors mention that scientists doubt the existence of feral children. It is suggested that individuals who seem as if they might be wild often have handicaps such as autism, deafness, or retardation. More telling, "Scientists have concluded that even a healthy child would not survive for long with only an animal mother." This seems to imply that Singh was at least an opportunist. Although the mystery is not solved, four possible explanations are appended, and readers are asked to form their own opinion. Tasty fodder for emerging detectives.
Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book uses those terms. It uses them correctly, but it was still distracting to my kids. Bah. Other than that, it was an interesting tale and I liked hearing what my kids thought about it.
If anything, this is possibly more interesting because a) I had never heard the story, and b) so many conflicting written accounts exist.
The main text of the book is written throughout the book in an odd, left-justified, somewhat choppy (but still informative)style. Then there are notebook giving additional scientific information or facts, and small captions with definitions of new vocabulary words. (The vocabulary includes words like emaciated and neglected.)
The illustrations are simply wonderful.
At the end, a summary of the clues and a series of questions helps your child decide which theory might be right.
With that introductory bit out of the way, the book transforms itself into a fact filled narrative of the events, beginning with the various reported origins of the girls (there were several stories about where they came from and how they got to the orphanage) and detailing their lives and the life of the man how found them. Sprinkled throughout (on "post it notes" are vocabulary definitions that may be unfamiliar to the reader). The final section is done in the notebook style, and the narrator has included questions for the reader to answer, which if answered, will help the reader figure out which of the theories are most likely...at the very least, it's an excellent opportunity for a class project (dividing students up into groups and each exploring a given theory and presenting to the class, with discussion at the end on which of the theories are most likely...and maybe even encouraging students to come up with their own theories!). The story ends with the narrator saying she's really not sure WHICH theory is right...but she's got her own and now she hopes you (the reader) do too.
Each two page spread (illustration done in subtle tones which emphasize the landscape and culture of India in this poor orphanage) is given a narrative box and most include "post-it" style pink, yellow and orange boxes which define terms used in the narrative box and most include a cut out of a spiral notebook which is meant to be the narrator taking her notes...which provides additional information and/or perspective on the information given in the narrative box. I love the section on the theories...the way they are presented with questions that the reader should be able to answer directly out of the text and/or with minimal additional research. I really do think this would make an excellent group project for a classroom, or the jumping off point for a written report by a single student...or just interesting reading!! I'd say this book is idea for kids ages 8-10, as a real aloud to about age 6, older kids will enjoy reading this alone...the text is EASY...but the opportunity for exploring the theories and doing additional research is what I think makes it suitable for readers 8-10. I give it five stars and think it would make a fine addition to any classroom or school library. I love the format; it presents the necessary information (and definitions) on the page (without flipping back and forth to a glossary) in a way that doesn't detract from the narrative or the illustrations. There is a bibliography, but it's located in the front of the book, just before the title page, rather than in the back. Pick this up for your curious young reader, you won't be disappointed!