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review 2016-07-16 09:30
The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell

This was absolutely stunning, beautiful. It transported me to a cold, wolf-filled country. A country full of adventure, bad guys, but also hope and beauty.

I am not going to write a super long review, I want people to explore this book on their own, find out all the secrets, experience all the adventure themselves.

I normally am already quite good at transporting to the place in my book, but in this book? It was even more than other books. It was amazing how well I could go into this world, I love it when it happens in books. Though it is even harder to get out of the world when the book ends. It feels a bit jarring because even when the book has finished you can still feel the world clinging to you.

The book is about a Wolf Wilder named Feodora or Feo as she wants to be called by people. What is a wolf wilder? A person who makes tame wolves wild again. Yes, that is a job, and I wouldn't mind having it. It might be dangerous, but I would love to do it. It sounds so exciting, so adventurous, and also so rewarding. To help wolves, who are so tame, to adapt to the wild again, to make them a wolf again.
Not even that, I wouldn't mind living in this world, it is a cold, harsh world with danger lurking everywhere, but it does sound like a serene place in the end. I am not sure how to explain this better, but you barely have people around, there is nothing around you, and I just love snow!

Now back to the story. It started pretty awesome immediately, and only became better and better, though I have to say I absolutely disliked the villain. Which is logical considering all the things he does, and the writer really wrote this character amazingly. From the get-go you just want him to be defeated, you will cheer and hope, and cry with the characters when stuff happens.

Feo and Ilya's journey to find Feo's mother was a lot of fun, and so exciting to read about. And of course it is not only about the mother (though it is the main plot), it is about so many other things in the end. Defeating the evil, finding a place to belong, a place to be safe, making the world safer and happier.

I loved the wolves, they were amazing, and a great addition to the story (yes, I know it is about a Wolf Wilder, but that doesn't mean that there need to be wolves to come along with the main character) I was a bit worried they might suddenly talk, or we would go to their minds, but no thankfully they won't, the wolves were just that, pure wolf, all nature.
I loved how they protected Feo, but also Ilya, how they did everything the could to help her out.

The ending was gorgeous, though it felt a bit rushed, only a bit though, I was still delighted with all the characters and what happened to them in the end.

However I do have to warn you all, you will be crying at several moments because things happen, the author really doesn't shy away from doing certain things (it is always great when authors dare to do something that might make people cry, and shake their fist).

The book is also filled with absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Illustrations that really fit the style of the book perfectly. The art style reminded me a bit of Jon Klassen's illustrations.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to everyone!

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com

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review 2016-03-17 16:19
The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell

THE WOLF WILDER by Katherine Rundell reads like a Russian fairy tale. It tells the story of Feodora and her mother, they live in the snowbound woods of Russia. Feo’s mother is a wolf wilder, so Feo has grown up with wolves and has learnt to be wary of humans. So when soldiers from the Tsar arrive with weapons and take her mother away, Feo has no choice but to try and get her mother back.

THE WOLF WILDER has received a lot of favourable reviews, and whilst I wish I was one of those singing its praises, it left me feeling disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, there is a certain magic to the book; the cover is soft to the touch, and the silver lettering sparkles beautifully in the light, and then there are the gorgeous black and white illustrations inside. Rundell’s idea of a “wolf wilder” is an interesting one, and one that she writes well. There is a very definite feeling of the fairy tale to the story, and the world Rundell writes seems almost magical.

And yet, I cannot help but feel that THE WOLF WILDER is somehow an allegory of the Russian revolution. Even forgetting that, just taking the story at face value there is something about the tale that just does not sit quite right with me. I think perhaps because whilst Rundell casts Feo in the role of hero, within the narrative it is not a role she is comfortable with – Feo is as skittish around humans as her wolves.

Having said that there are things that I think Rundell did well. I do commend Rundell for making me feel as uncomfortable as Feo felt when things got away from her. I also thought that the mirroring of the beginning and ending of the book – the fairy tale-esq narrative – was written well, and worked brilliantly.

If you are interested in Russian history, and what to see a middle grade fairy tale take on the subject then THE WOLF WILDER is an interesting place to start – though I would suggest that you check out the young adult BLOOD RED, SNOW WHITE if you like this book, or if you want to know more about Russia. THE WOLF WILDER is an imaginative telling of the beginnings of a very real subject, and I think that Rundell handles the subject sensitively.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Source: theflutterbyroom.com/2016/03/17/review-the-wolf-wilder-by-katherine-rundell
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review 2015-12-30 10:14
Review | Cartwheeling In Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms - Katherine Rundell

Even a life on the untamed plains of Africa can’t prepare Wilhelmina for the wilds of an English boarding school. Wilhelmina Silver’s world is golden. Living half-wild on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, every day is beautiful. But when her home is sold and Will is sent away to boarding school in England, the world becomes impossibly difficult. Lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of vicious schoolgirls. Where can a girl run to in London? And will she have the courage to survive?







"Don't you get out of the habit of bravery. Even if you think nobody's seeing... It's still so important. So important..." 


~ Captain Browne


Wilhemina or "Will" is a young girl growing up on a farm in the wilds of Zimbabwe, Africa. Her family allows her to run free with the animals and her best friend Simon. That is, at least until her family's fortunes take a turn. Following a change in the farm's ownership, Will finds her world turned upside down when she's suddenly packed up and shipped off to a boarding school in England. 


"It is real life that takes the real courage, little wildcat. School is very difficult. But that's because it takes toughness and patience. It's what life is, my love. Although life is very beautiful, it is also very difficult."


Will blinked, surprised. "That's what Captain Browne used to say. He used to say, ja, 'Life isn't all mangoes and milk tarts.' "


Wilhemina does her best to try to make new friends at school, but she is unfamiliar with English customs, so it doesn't take long for her to be targeted by bullies. I felt so bad for her, reading of her confusion at people's reactions to her, struggling to find friends to explain where she's going wrong. She gets called things like "savage" and "freak".


"Please answer me, Wilhemina. You'll try your very best to fit in, won't you, my dear?"


Will couldn't say she would fit in. Fitting was what lids did to jam jars. 


Eventually her frustration leads to drastic behavior. A panic-induced decision to flee the situation sends her off on an adventure all over the city of London, until someone catches up with her and talks her through her feelings, leading her to see that running from problems doesn't make them go away, only delays you having to inevitably face them. She comes to embrace the mantra, "courage, chook", a phrase she often heard in Africa. 


Every night Will felt she couldn't face another day. Every day she felt she couldn't face another night. Inexplicably, her body refused to die of a broken heart. It was unrelentingly bad...In lessons the teachers sighed and smiled and looked pitying... And everything she did was wrong. 


"Sit up straight, please, Wilhemina!"

"Will, second warning! Feet off your chair!"

"Don't chew your ruler, please, Will. That's better. Show some respect for school property."

"We eat with our forks here, please, dear, or we don't eat at all. We're not savages, are we, now?"


Will's ball of rice had dropped from her fingers. She tried to cover it with her arm...Will turned away from the snortings and spittings of laughter as she pushed back her chair. 


"My God! Did you smell her?" Will did smell, she knew -- of woodsmoke and Kezia and grass. Her boot connected with the girl's chair leg as she passed, but then her chest burned and flushed with shame and she latched her fingers into a knot so they couldn't strike out. Will only fought her equals.



I found this to be a unique story with some great themes perfect for middle-grade-age readers, such as trying to find your place in new environments and how to address bullying in a healthy, productive way. The writing is pretty heavy on descriptors though, which can make the flow of the story a little clunky at times. I could see younger readers struggling to make sense of some of the passages. As a whole, the story should have a pretty wide appeal because it incorporates unique environments that still have a familiarity to them, which is bound to keep most any reader engaged.

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review 2015-12-27 18:57
Wolf Wilder
The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell

I absolutely loved this novel. I tore through these pages like a mad woman. As I slammed the novel shut each time something horrific or startling moved me, my husband would ask, “What happened to the wolves now?” I was enchanted by this story. Mesmerized by the bond between Feo and the wolves, I was fearful that something would split this bond apart, leaving both parties helpless and empty. There was this urgency in this story, an energy pulling me as Feo tried to protect herself and the wolves from the enemy. She was only a child, yet others believed in her, they saw through to her heart and its goodness. I started to think that perhaps this might make a great bedtime story but then I wondered where, oh where would you quit in this book each night as the bedtime hour came closer? Who also could get any sleep as Feo and her wolves contented to survive in a world who viewed wolves as vicious and evil? Wired and with your adrenaline pumped, sleep is not going to happen as your wondered what would happen next.  


In the forest, Feo lived with her mother and these two were wolf wilders. Training wolves back to their wild natural state is what these two would do. Individuals who longer want their pet wolves or who could no longer care for their pet wolves would drop them off at their home in the forest. They lived peacefully until one day when the Imperial Army’s soldiers came and accused their wolves of attacking the tsar’s elk. No one really owned the wolves as they lived in the wild now but since they are seen with Feo and her mother, assumptions are made. Threats are made by the tsar to the family and now Feo and her mother lived in fear.   As a new wolf is left in their care, Feo takes to training her. Running through the forest, training and becoming accumulated to each other, it’s not long before the threats become real and an avalanche of trouble begins. It’s a wonderful adventure and the ties that form are exceptional. Feo gets caught in a blind cold storm, so cold that the saliva from her mouth froze before hitting the ground, so cold that “ it took all the sense out of your brain, couldn’t sit down to think unless you wanted to be found dead in that same place in May.” Feo is a resourceful child; a brave youth who is willing to help even though she might have the right answer. I was cheering for her, urging her on, she had a story to tell, for she was resilient and determined to get her message across. She’s a leader and how old is she? Bravo, bravo …..what a wonderful novel!!!

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text 2015-12-25 13:59
I pause. I breathe.
The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell

"The wolf was staggering now, her hind feet dragging, and as Feo reached her, the wolf's hind legs gave way. Blood had stained her fur pure satin red. Feo had not known, until then, that wolves can moan like humans."

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