Winter of the Wolf Cave is an engaging prehistoric adventure story sure to draw in reluctant readers. It features short, gripping chapters, distinct characters, and lessons about love, family and the natural world.
An ancient clan in Southwestern France is displaced from its home by a volcanic eruption. Things are further complicated when the group is forced to shelter in a cave during a harsh winter storm. One of the children finds two abandoned wolf cubs and adopts them; while this complication seems like a curse at first, it turns out to benefit the clan as a whole.
Author D.K. Wyatt is a sixth grade teacher who used this story in her classroom to help students understand what the hunter-gatherers were up against. The children encouraged her to write it all down, and this slender volume is the result.
The dialogue is all in contemporary English, and characters have recognizable names (including “Talbot,” which sounds rather preppy for prehistory), but their story is one of old-fashioned survival. Wyatt repeats themes throughout (the impact of the weather on the group’s fortunes, for example), and the story ends on a surprisingly somber note, a reminder that under the best of circumstances, these people had very difficult lives.
Winter of the Wolf Cave is written with clear and simple language, and Josh Hanson’s kinetic pen and ink illustrations add to the story nicely. This book reinforces the lessons of sixth grade history, but could be an exciting treat for a third grader who loves to read as well. Nicely done.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.