I am so glad Firstborn does not contain any illustrations apart from some maps, the cover and the title page - this is quite a blood thirsty tale at times as we read the gory details the details of wild animals killed for food by this small group of wolves living in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
"And it was Blue Boy who caught the scent and gave the cry of the chase: the same bone-chilling cry I'd first heard on that split-rail fence back on the triple Bar T ... he was standing over a deer stretched out on a platter of blood-soaked pine straw."
Not to mention the fights for supremacy of the wolf pack itself.
"When I could bring myself to look up the slope again, Raze's father lay on his side with blood gushing from his torn throat. Blue Boy lifted his bloody snout and let out what must have been an instinctive howl of triumph."
The heart of this book is about relationships - between Maggie the magpie and her 'family' of wolves, between the wolves themselves and also one special relationship firstborn son Lamar forms with a coyote called Artemis. The tenderness these wolves show for one another and for Maggie and the way they look after each litter of new pups is very special. I don't think this is a book everyone will enjoy but if you like survival stories and animals look for this book. This quote from Chris Raschka really sums up my feelings about Firstborn.
"... there's lots of danger, excitement and beauty; but there are also things we know from human families like love and loyalty, bravery and honor. You won't ever want to leave Blue Boy's wolf pack in the heart of the Rockies."
We also have A rat's tale by Tor Seidler in our library. A very different book from Firstborn and a book I really enjoyed.
Readers among you will know the significance of the dedication of Firstborn:
In remembrance of
Jean Craighead George
You might like to read the New York Times review. Click here to listen to an extract where you will hear the voice of Maggie the Magpie. Here are a set of discussion questions. Take a look at this review by my fellow blogger Mr K.