September 12, 2013
When the Wolves Returned by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
When the Wolves Returned:
Restoring Nature’s Balance in Yellowstone
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent,
photographs by Dan Hartman and Cassie Hartman
Walker and Company
If you have a budding naturalist on your hands, this book is a must read.
Over 100 years ago, the geysers and massive rock formations in Yellowstone fascinated visitors. Our government realized that although very few people managed to visit this remote area, these natural wonders needed to be saved for future generations. Yellowstone became our first national park.
Being the first is a good thing, people saw value in Yellowstone and realized it needed to be saved. Visitors continued to come and we can see antique photos of women in long dresses and men in suit jackets posing in front of geysers and other wonders. We also see pictures of them with the wildlife including deer. People liked the deer, but deer are prey animals. They are hunted by wolves.
And this is where is might be a bad thing to be first because people when Yellowstone was founded didn’t understand land and wildlife management the way we do today. Hunters were brought in to get rid of the wolves that preyed on the deer. Needless to say, this was a disaster and put everything out of balance.
Patent goes on to explain just which elements went out of balance and how this rippled through the area. She also discusses the objections that some people, ranchers, had to bringing back to wolves, as well as the changes that have been seen since the wolves’ return.
Patent has constructed a clever dual text that allows the book to be appreciated by a wide audience. The main text appears in a text box and, bold, is easy to spot. This text gives the basics and will appeal to younger children. But each spread also has a sidebar. As the name suggests, this text is printed to one side, generally below several photographs. This information expands on the main text going into greater depth.
Adults and children alike who love wolves will be pulled in by this book. As much as I knew, I still learned new things.
In addition to wolves, this book would support discussions on decision making, ecology, and balance. I highly recommend it for both the classroom and the home library.