Wolf Hollow: a novel / by Lauren Wolk. 10.18.2017

Dutton Children’s Books ISBN 9781101994825

INT Grades 5-8 Rating: 5

Eleven-year-old Annabelle is keeping a secret: Betty Glengarry, the new girl at school, is a bully. Annabelle endures Betty’s abusive words and actions for fear that Betty will harm Annabelle’s younger brothers. However, when Annabelle’s youngest brother becomes the recipient of Betty’s harmful schemes, Annabelle breaks her silence, telling her parents the truth. When Betty is confronted about her actions, she denies everything and, instead, makes alarming accusations about Toby, the strange drifter who wanders the surrounding hills and woods.

Living under the suspicions and bitterness of the past and current world war, Toby is the perfect target for Betty’s meanness. No one knows much about the quiet man, other than he fought against the Germans in France in World War I. Some think he is crazy, someone to fear, but Annabelle has only ever known kindness from him. Can Annabelle prove Toby’s innocence?

A 2017 Newbery Honor Book, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is a gripping coming-of-age story about a girl who finds her voice in her Pennsylvania home town and uses it to stand up for justice and kindness. The plot speaks to the power of words that can do both harm and good and how prejudices and superstitions can blind others from seeing the truth before them. The tone of this book is somber, full of raw honesty that will evoke a gamut of emotions, particularly outrage, anger, and sorrow; however, Annabelle’s compassionate heart, determination to stand for truth, and her special relationship with Toby will inspire hope, courage, and love. Some endings are not always beautiful or happy–sometimes they are harsh and painful, but still they have the power to shape a life forever, just as words do. Such is the way that Annabelle’s story ends; it is an ending that challenges its readers to be a voice for truth and justice, to be the fruit rather than the frost.

There are some traumatic events portrayed in this book, including a young girl losing her eye, a boy being cut by a metal wire, as well as two deaths.

Justina McBride, CLJ