Wolf-related documentaries or books for a wolf-obsessed 8-year old?
November 3, 2008 2:32 PM   Subscribe

My 8 year old has become obsessed with wolves. Do any of you have suggestions for age-appropriate films, tv shows, and books on the subject? He's an excellent reader, so words are great as long as there are photos too. Looking for anything beyond "Living With Wolves" - thanks!
posted by brandsilence to Science & Nature (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Never Cry Wolf. Both the book and the film.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:36 PM on November 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

The Journey of Natty Gann.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

White Fang? I haven't seen it, though, so I can't vouch for its kid-friendlyiness.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:39 PM on November 3, 2008

L. David Mech's books are very good.

So is the movie Never Cry Wolf. That was adapted from a book, but I haven't read it so I don't know how difficult a read it would be for an eight-year-old. I do know that an eight-year-old will probably enjoy seeing the main character eat mice on saltines in the film while living with the wolves (at least I did when I was his age -- hell, I still do).
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:40 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding L. David Mech and Never Cry Wolf. The movie is excellent and the book is a good read. Farley Mowat's the author.

If you live anywhere near Minnesota, consider a trip to the International Wolf Center in Ely. It's fantastic.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 2:54 PM on November 3, 2008

The book "Call of the Wild" by Jack London. Get the children's edition.

From Wikipedia "The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous, frigid Yukon during the days of the 19th century Klondike Gold Rushes."
posted by billspd at 2:55 PM on November 3, 2008

Peter and the Wolf. I had it on a cassette when I was small, and I wore it out.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:59 PM on November 3, 2008

Princess Mononoke? Definitely scary, but probably not too scary for a mature 8-year-old and full of wolfy awesomeness. (Your 8-year-old may vary.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:05 PM on November 3, 2008

Look into the BBC docos - Life of Mammals is excellent, and there's an Attenborough/BBC Life of Wolves, as well.
posted by rodgerd at 3:05 PM on November 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

My 12-year-old went through a very serious wolf phase from about 8-10 or so. For his 9th birthday we gave him a sponsorship of the timber wolf Amaroq (center, about halfway down) at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey. The preserve has an adjacent campground so we made a weekend out of it, with a tour of the preserve, hiking at the Delaware Water Gap, and a really great water park nearby. If you live anywhere in range, I highly recommend it, it was great fun all around.

He is a big reader so he read "Call of the Wild" during that period too. At one point he was reading and started crying. He was having a hard time with the animal abuse in the book. I told him he didn't have to finish it, we could find him another wolf book. He thought about it, took a deep breath, and said no, he was going to finish it, even if he cried through the whole thing. The story was too compelling for him to put it down. If your son is a serious reader like that, then "Call of the Wild" can't be beat.

(These days my son reads manga-type graphic novels. [sigh...])
posted by headnsouth at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2008

There's an excellent discussion of wolves as potential predecessors to dogs in The Intelligence of Dogs. I learned a lot about their social structure and the way their minds work. Likely available at the local library.
posted by letahl at 3:14 PM on November 3, 2008

White Fang, absolutely, but I was thinking of the book, not the movie. It's probably a struggle for an 8 year old but well worth it. The text is all here (it's public domain, published in 1906) so you can take a look before you buy. Oh, no photos though, unless you can find a version that includes them.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:14 PM on November 3, 2008

I loved - LOVED - Julie of The Wolves when I was around that age. However, there is one questionable part in the book - so I suggest you read it together (and you perhaps read ahead to make sure it's ok).
posted by Sassyfras at 3:14 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oooh, just thought of Ladyhawk as well, that old 80's film. There is not a lot of wolf screen-time in it, but the main character actually IS a wolf, so that should count for something. Definitely age-appropriate, and plain good.
posted by letahl at 3:15 PM on November 3, 2008

Kavik would be a good book for him.

When I was in elementary school, we went on a field trip to Wolf Haven (south of Seattle) and the class adopted a wolf, etc.
posted by milkrate at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2008

Julie of the Wolves was one of my growing-up faves, though it might be a bit too mature for an 8 year old.
posted by suki at 3:30 PM on November 3, 2008

Lobo, the King of Currumpaw by Earnest Thompson Seton, included in the anthology Wild Animals I Have Known. The text is available at Project Gutenberg. The translations of his stories about various animals are longtime bestsellers (as in, I read them as a kid, too) in Japan for some reason, even to this day.
posted by misozaki at 3:44 PM on November 3, 2008

Not a book or a documentary, but this werewolf-based boardgame (which really is just a role playing game that doesn't actually require any special equipment), is a lot of fun to play; your 8 year old gets to be a wolf (for the purposes of the game).
posted by tiny crocodile at 3:45 PM on November 3, 2008

What a great thread! There is an excellent National Geographic special about the return of wolves to Yellowstone available on Netflix.
posted by LarryC at 3:45 PM on November 3, 2008

I was probably about 8 when I read Wolves of Willoughby Chase (which I just learnt has a film adaptation...) and seem to remember loving it, though it was a little scary.
posted by gregjones at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2008

Along the same lines,, there is an episode of NOVA called "Dogs, Dogs and More Dogs" that discusses dogs' evolution from wolves and the way different breeds were developed for specialities.
posted by Brittanie at 4:12 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

oh man, i was totally into wolves when i was around that age too! it must be a phase like loving dinosaurs.

anyway, everyone took all my suggestions, but definitely the book call of the wild, the book white fang (the disney movie isn't horrible either), the movie the journey of natty gann, the book kavik the wolf dog. i know some of these are more about "wild dogs" or wolf/dog mixes, but they're things that i enjoyed reading when i was into wolves...

this dvd might be interesting. this one might be good too.

also, the wolf population of northern michigan was almost gone, but experienced a resurgence a few years back, so you might be able to find some things about that in nature magazines or michigan specific magazines (but that's probably outside of an 8 year old's interest...).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:15 PM on November 3, 2008

Thirding Julie of the Wolves. I read it at about that age and I adored it. There's a synopsis in Wikipedia that mentions the questionable part that suki and Sassyfras mentioned. I didn't think it was too descriptive or explicit when I read it.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:17 PM on November 3, 2008

In the 70's I saw a film about a father + son who lived in France. The son is exposed to radiation in the early part of the film from an exploding bomber. The boy is likewise obsessed with wolves and somehow the father obtains a pair for his Christmas gift.

For some reason I'm thinking of William Holden as the father. Wish I could provide the title, sorry.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:21 PM on November 3, 2008

He might like Balto, the cartoon film. It's not quite about wolves, but the main character/dog is half wolf, half husky, which plays a major role in the story.

It's cute, has some good morals, and is rated G. It's at least worth a rental from the video store.
posted by nikkorizz at 5:03 PM on November 3, 2008

The game Okami, where you play as a wolf.
posted by teki at 5:23 PM on November 3, 2008

I can't believe nobody said Teenwolf yet. My 8-year-old loved it (aside from a little groaning at the kissy parts).
posted by bizwank at 5:26 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cave of the Yellow Dog. It is in Mongolian with subtitles, but it is a beautiful fable. Wolves are just tangentially related to the story, but it is a great story. My almost-4-year old can watch this movie over and over. I had to read all of the subtitles the first couple of times, though.

Never Cry Wolf - it's a classic.
posted by Ostara at 5:34 PM on November 3, 2008

headnsouth wrote: "My 12-year-old went through a very serious wolf phase from about 8-10 or so. For his 9th birthday we gave him a sponsorship of the timber wolf Amaroq (center, about halfway down) at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey."

Speaking as a 26-year-old from NJ whose obsession with wolves shows no sign of ending (don't believe me? check my profile pic), I have call some extra attention to this.

I'm a little biased towards Lakota -- in 2007, I was heavily involved in a fundraiser which brought in over $1,600 for them -- but they are awesome people who are doing good work, so I think they deserve it.

If you're anywhere near NJ, it's worth the trip to visit. And if you aren't, please consider sponsoring a wolf for him anyway.
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:01 PM on November 3, 2008

I'd recommend the book version of White Fang, instead of the movie. Absolutely one of my favorite books at that age.
posted by Freen at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2008

The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park is a wonderful story that would likely thrill your son. There are a number of books out there, but you might want to start with the highly rated documentary Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone.
posted by zoel at 7:18 PM on November 3, 2008

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I read it when I was a bit younger than your son and can't wait until my daughter is old enough to dive into it.
posted by Cobalt at 8:23 PM on November 3, 2008

nthing Never Cry Wolf. That's the first thing I thought of when I saw this question. It's a great movie for kids.
posted by greenie2600 at 8:27 PM on November 3, 2008

Check out the Japanese film Nankyoku Monogatari. Not about wolves, but rather sled dogs (they look the same to me, anyway :)). A very popular 80s movie in Japan, it was recently remade by Disney as Eight Below. I've seen both, and the Japanese original is a darker, more serious drama, while the Disney version is, well, as sanitized and bright and happy as you'd expect from Disney.
posted by zardoz at 8:58 PM on November 3, 2008

Both are previously mentioned, but I'll mention them again.

Never Cry Wolf is on the kid-friendly movie shelf here in spite of some brief frontal male nudity. We watched it with them the first time. I think my daughter was 8 when we first watched it. There was a brief conversation about the dangly bits. ;)

My daughter, who is now 10, just picked up the Julie of the Wolves book and series at the school library and is running right through them and loving it. There are some parts she's coming to me to talk about and I'm not reading it with her, so you may want to pre-read. It's stuff that's ok for my girl, but I don't know you and yours.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:45 PM on November 3, 2008

I should say that, after reading the wikipedia entry for Julie of the Wolves, my daughter had read the trilogy out of order, and I now expect more questions. I may just start that conversation on my own. Previously, she was talking to me about a scene in the third book about helping to birth a calf. There are some more sinister human events in the second book, it seems. Still, the books are in an elementary school library.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:55 PM on November 3, 2008

I was about eight when I read "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" - both Jack London. They remain two of my favourite books to this day. (I must have been eight because I remember both books were on my older brother's reading list when he started secondary school at age 11. I was a good reader and looked through his list for ideas. I'd never seen authors listed surname first, so thought the author's name was London Jack for years!)

Seconding "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" - I adored Joan Aiken when I was a kid. It is a little scary. I saw the film while ill recently, but it's pretty awesome as well.
posted by badmoonrising at 12:36 AM on November 4, 2008

The Wolfling by Sterling North. It's set in the 1800s US or something (I forget; long enough ago that they had horse carriages, anyway) and is about a boy who adopts a wolf cub as a pet. I'm not entirely sure if it's appropriate reading for an 8-year-old (I was a teen when I read it), but it's a reasonably endearing story.
posted by Xany at 1:58 AM on November 4, 2008

Nthing The Jungle Book.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Box of Delights are both a bit scary, but in an age appropriate way. I'd recommend, except the wolves are baddies in both those books. Are you ooking for stories where the wolves get a happy ending?

In the Polly and the Wolf books, the wolf is still a villain, but a sympathetic one. The stories are mostly gentle parodies of existing fairy tales.

Also, there was a thread recently about mythology books for young kids. It might be worth finding it and looking for a good retelling of Romulus and Remus being raised by wolves.
posted by the latin mouse at 5:49 AM on November 4, 2008

Isle Royale Wolves (would be awesome to go there)
Wolf howling (one of many on youtube)
Okami (previously suggested, wolf video game)
posted by metastability at 6:08 AM on November 4, 2008

For your next vacation, take him to the Wolf Viewing Gallery at the Regenstein Wolf Woods (Brookfield Zoo, outside Chicago, Illinois):
In the Wolf Viewing Gallery, one-way glass allows guests to get nose to nose with the animals. A kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible wolf den also offers a one-of-a-kind view of the animals, while a unique, multisensory theater gives the sensation of being in the midst of a wolf pack.
I checked their online gift shop for any wolf items, but it doesn't appear they have much available online. You could call and see if they have anything on DVD about their conservation efforts with the Mexican gray wolf.

That wolf gallery gives me chills every time I go.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:19 AM on November 5, 2008

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