The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess

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The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Powerful and disturbing but beautiful first novel from the wonderful Melvin Burgess. What if there were still wolves in England? And a man cruel and arrogant enough to hunt them?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: November 2011
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1849393753

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Thought to have been extinct in Britain for centuries, there are actually 70 English wolves left when Ben meets the Hunter. Burning with mortification at being mocked for poor shooting skills, Ben lets the carefully-guarded secret slip to this awful, vile man. And over the next three years, the Hunter makes it his business to find and kill these beautiful, rare creatures. Eventually, there is only one family left and Silver and Conna will do anything to protect their cub, the last of his kind...

The Cry of the Wolf was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 1990 - not something first novels often achieve. According to my press sheet, the judges said so powerfully written we had to include it. I'd say that's about right. It's aimed at tween readers, a younger age group than the one Burgess tends to write for now, but it's stamped all over with his trademark willingness to offer children something that may disturb them but will challenge them.

It's a wonderful book - in exposing the cruelty and arrogance of the Hunter, it's sometimes quite painful to read. And, when the Hunter eventually becomes the hunted, there's a rough justice about it that young readers will immediately understand and appreciate. But it's not entirely bleak and the moments of love and care - both from humans and wolves - seem all the more precious within the inevitability of the plot. The climax is a triumph. There's no fairy tale happy ending but there is a resolution.

Andersen are reissuing a series of Burgess's early novels and good for them. Good for us and a whole new generation of young readers, too.

The Last Wolf by Michael Morpurgo is a very different, but equally gorgeous, book about these beautiful creatures. Adult readers - we know we aren't the only adults who read and love books for young people! - could look at The Wolf by Joseph Smith, which is the most stunning piece of nature writing in which the hunter also becomes the hunted.

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Buy The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess at


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