Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, June 24, 2016

Howling At The Moon

It's one of those places where the mere mention of it causes your anticipation to grow every second until your arrival or you dread being any closer than one hundred miles from the location.  These feelings can be based upon personal experiences or the assessments of others.  If you have never been there and no one you know has either, perhaps this place is a perfect fit for you.  It calls to your deepest desires and undisguised actions.

When the opportunity to visit and be a guest presents itself, how can you resist?  Wolf Camp (Schwartz & Wade Books, May 3, 2016) written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill is an adventure on the wild side worth taking.  If you are a dog, it's a dream come true.

My name is Homer.  I am a dog...
...but sometimes I am very wolfish.

Homer continues explaining to the reader about the wolfish heritage all dogs have.  As his human is pouring kibble into his dish at meal time, something falls from the bag.  It's a flyer for Wolf Camp!  

This canine is determined to go, carrying the pamphlet and presenting it over and over again to his people.  Finally they relent, telling him he can make this trip.  Homer is more excited than he ever imagined.  He knows his inner wolf is going to grow and surface.

The two camp counselors, Fang and Grrr greet Homer and two other campers, Pixie and Rex.  Although his two pals are a little frightened by Fang's pep talk, Homer is ecstatic.  Marking, howling, tracking and hunting are the daily order of business.  Homer's first letter home clearly states the differences between the norm and this living in the wilderness.

As time passes the trio acquires new talents until their efforts are rewarded.  A call echoes off the mountains and through the trees as the bus pulls away returning the friends to their humans.  At home Homer realizes some things never change.

Telling this tale from Homer's point of view is a warm welcome for readers to join directly in the fun.  When Andrea Zuill adds the dialogue of the humans and wolves and thoughts of the dogs, the energy in the story, already high, gets even better.  These asides to the main narrative elevate the comedy of each situation, too.  Here is a sample passage.

The big moment was here.  It was time to hunt!

Hey guys! Wait up!
We're going to eat that?


On the matching dust jacket and book case Homer and Fang are starring at each other intently.  We aren't quite sure what they are thinking but we want to understand.  We want to know what Wolf Camp really is.  On the back, to the left, the flyer which falls from Homer's food is enlarged for readers.  The opening and closing endpapers are different in color; the first is a deep grass green and the second is a rich blue-green hue.  The title page features the Wolf Camp sign with a grinning Homer sitting off to the right.

Andrea Zuill makes marvelous use of white space placing her images, varying in size, on this canvas.  Many of her pictures share a single page horizontally.  For visual impact and to intensify the story her illustrations may span two pages or a single page edge to edge.  The expressions on the characters faces will have you laughing out loud at the absolute hilarity.  The added details, Mr. Moose, the computations on the blackboard, the dogs sniffing each other, the smashed bug, and the heating pad on Homer's bed elevate the comedy.

One of my favorite pictures is contained on two pages.  On the left Fang is issuing his rules and recommendations.  They spread out in a gigantic speech balloon becoming the background for the right half of the left page and the entire right side.  Rex and Pixie are looking a tad bit frightened but Homer is ready for the challenges.  The trio occupies the center on the right.  The rules are totally funny.  Here is how the last line reads.

And, finally, never trust a squirrel.  They can be very

Pure perfection for story hours with a camp, dog or wolf theme, Wolf Camp written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill will have readers and listeners hugging their sides in laughter.  It's one of those stories where the experience exceeds expectations...even beyond a return home.  You will want to read this one with multiple voices.

By following the link attached to Andrea Zuill's name you can access her website, learning more about her and her work.  Andrea Zuill is featured at KidLit411 and on a podcast at Storybook Spotlight.  Check out the Saturday post at Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read. to discover how he highlights this title.  To view interior images follow this link to the publisher's website.


  1. Just read & enjoyed this one, Margie. LOVED the illustrations--very cute!

    1. I thought the humor was wonderful. The side comments kept me laughing and turning the pages.