Annabelle lives in a quiet Pennsylvania town, mostly untouched by the troubles abounding in the world around her. But in the autumn of 1943, she feels personally the effects of both war and hostility as they creep into her tranquil and sheltered hometown. Annabelle learns that even at the tender age of twelve, what she says and does matters in the lives of the people in her small community and she boldly and bravely fights against injustice.
If Annabelle is the protagonist of this richly told story, then Betty Glengarry is it’s strongest antagonist. She quickly reveals herself to be the worst kind of bully, taunting and singling out the weakest members of the community to pick on. It isn’t long before Toby, a World War I veteran becomes the target of her abuse. Betty’s feelings towards Toby soon have a powerful influence over the feelings of others in the community. However, Annabelle has only ever experienced Toby’s gentle kindness and feels it only right that she find the courage to offer him aid. Hiding Toby in the loft of her family's barn, whilst officers of the law pursue him, Annabelle learns of the true horrors Toby has experienced and develops an even greater empathy for those who have suffered due to the effects of war. Annabelle feels keenly a sense of responsibility for Toby and works to prove his innocence.
Lauren Wolk has produced stunning piece of children’s literature in 'Wolf Hollow' that would not be out of place sitting next to 'Anne of Green Gables', 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Little House on the Prairie'. A story of more that just acceptance and understanding, but of standing up for what is right.
This book has been nominated for many children’s book awards and several excellent guides for using it in the classroom have already been written.
You can find some Simply Teach ideas here, a Penguin discussion guide here, reading notes here, a TES review here, and a Story Path review here, with some very engaging moral questions highlighted by the book. Finally, an excellent interview with author, Lauren Wolk, can be found here, where she explains more about her characters and her intentions for what meanings she would like readers to draw from the book.
Wolf Hollow Lauren Wolk
Corgi ISBN: 9780552574297