By Lauren Wolk
Recommended by: Rebecca Ekstrom, School Library Media Specialist, Algonquin Middle School, Averill Park Teacher's Association
Suitable for: grades 5–8.
Why I chose it: Once in a while a book comes along that is important on so many levels. This is one such book. The novel, which takes place in 1943, brings with it many connections to present day because its themes are universal and timeless. A dark,historical fiction novel that deftly deals with bullying, war, injustice, prejudice, mental illness, moral dilemmas and socio-economic status, the book was inspired by Wolk's mother's simple childhood growing up in rural western Pennsylvania. It is one of three books awarded the John Newbery Medal for 2017.
What I like best: Throughout the book, protagonist Annabelle learns hard truths about life: Sometimes lying is necessary to shelter those who need protection; and, at times, bullies get away with evil deeds. Readers will learn along with Annabelle that situations can be complex, not black and white, and secrets must be kept in order to execute a complex plan. Wolk has created a complex character in Annabelle, who is a role model for anyone who feels afraid or too small to speak out against injustice. She reaches out in surprising ways — even to the bully — when most of us would not.
How teachers can use this book: Wolf Hollow would be great for those students not yet ready for the length and more challenging reading level of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It would make an excellent book integrated into ELA or literacy curriculum, or read by a book club because there is much to debate and discuss.
About the author: Wolk is an author and poet, and the associate director at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. At the start of her career, she spent a year as a writer with the Battered Women's Project of the St. Paul American Indian Center, and then worked as both an editor and an English teacher. She is also the author of Beyond the Bright Sea and Those Who Favor Fire. Visit www.laurenwolk.com.
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