I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction novel because of the way Jennifer Dance introduced me to the plight of the wolf and the struggle students of Ontario residential schools faced at the end of the 19th Century.
Although I am not a wolf or a small child I quickly connected to the main characters within the first few chapters. I felt their sadness and helplessness as survivors in this novel because they come to realize that their family members had tried to protect them all along.
I developed a sense of empathy for the loss of family and disconnectedness that first nations children were forced to endure because of the Indian Act.
I appreciated how Jennifer added small factual details into the novel to engage the reader. For example, I had never considered that parents would be not allowed to leave the reserve to collect their children. I know that the meager existence students faced in residential schools in this novel mirrored the collection of real life events.
I think this would make a great read aloud in a Grade 6-8 class as it demonstrates how poverty, lack of opportunity and loss of rights might be the reasons so many first nations people suffer from abuse, lack good jobs/status and struggle to find positive parental roles.
Although the novel is about a tragic story it is not without hope. I feel that Red Wolf will survive and reconnect with his culture in time. I love that he made a positive choice at the end of the novel. I think this novel is a great way to introduce students to the Truth and Reconciliation-Call to Action items.