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Review of Old Wolf

avi_old-wolfOld Wolf
by Avi; illus. by Brian Floca
Intermediate, Middle School   Jackson/Atheneum   147 pp.
8/15   978-1-4424-9921-8   $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9924-9   $10.99

As winter wanes in the mountain regions of Colorado, Nashoba, an aging wolf, struggles to find fresh game for his pack, all the while desperately trying to hold on to his alpha status. He knows full well that his true survival depends not on besting an eager challenger but on the next kill, which will produce life-saving food. A shrewd raven named Marla, seeking an unlikely partnership, offers to help Nashoba hunt if he will let her share the leavings. In a parallel story, thirteen-year-old Casey also dreams of kills, but those that are from a video game he plays incessantly. These kills are both spectacular and numerous, and his appetite for real-world hunting is whetted when he receives a bow-and-arrow set for his birthday. These two stories — of one struggling with decreased killing power and one full of his own increasing power — come in direct contact as Nashoba, led by Marla, creeps closer and closer to civilization, and Casey, eager to try out his new weapon, ventures farther and farther into the neighboring woods. Avi switches perspective between Nashoba and Casey, building the tension and raising a multitude of questions in this thought-provoking allegory. Should the head of the food chain kill for sport? And, is that killing really sport? Naturalistic black-and-white pencil illustrations by Floca (who also illustrated Avi’s Poppy books) enhance the classic-feeling tale.

From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.



  1. Any idea of nashoba found his pack after the book? Or is it an optional ending like in plague dogs where you can say “oh he found his pack” or “oh he died a sad lonely death”

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