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Book Briefs: The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach, Giant Squid by Candace Fleming

The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach; illustrated by Alice Ratterree; Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt; $16.99. 340 pages. Ages 8 to 12.

This entertaining mystery set partly in beautiful Yosemite National Park comes from the author of several award-winning books including “Masterpiece” tor this age group.

Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango has grown up at the California wildlife park – named for famed naturalist John Muir - where her father is the head zookeeper, roaming the grounds, bottle-feeding baby llamas, eating for free at the snack bar. She is especially fascinated with Lobo,  one of seven wolves  recently brought to the park’s new wolf enclosure  from a city zoo, and her observations about the big male wolf are part of a nature journal she is keeping as a summer homework assignment.

One summer day she meets a boy who has run away from his foster home and has been hiding out at the zoo and has witnessed some strange happenings at night near the wolf enclosure, where one of the wolves has suddenly become deathly ill. Lizzie and Tyler become friends, and work together to try to figure out what is happening to the wolves, a mystery that eventually lands them in Yosemite’s dangerous Tenaya  Canyon on a hunt for John Muir’s legendary lost cabin.  Broach does a marvelous job with the colorful portrait of life at a wildlife park, the difficulties  involved in protecting the wild wolf population, set against the colorful history and landscape of one of America’s great national parks.

An informative afterword at the end sorts out fact from fiction and includes a 1918 photo of Clare Marie Hodges, the first woman park ranger, and the famous photo of two waitresses at Yosemite’s Sentinel Hotel, high-kicking at the edge of Glacier Point’s Overhanging Rock.



Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann; Neal Porter Book;Roaring Book Press, $18.99. Ages 6 to 10.

In a world where it seems every inch has been explored and photographed and studied, the giant squid remains a mystery. And who better to explore this fascinating creature than the hugely talented Candace Fleming (author of fabulous biographies for children including “The Family Romanov”) and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Eric Rohmann?  “Down, down, in the depths of the sunless sea, deep, deep in the cold, cold dark, creatures, strange and fearsome, lurk.” Fleming’s spare and poetic prose is accompanied by Rohmann’s brilliant depiction of the creature lurking in the inky blackness of the ocean depths in this tantalizing exploration of what we know, and don’t know, about this elusive creature.

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