Book Picks

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

"Runt"

By Marion Dane Bauer

Clarion Books, 1992

Ages 8 to 12

Wolves have fascinated and frightened us throughout history. The howling of a wolf conjures up all the legends and stories we have heard since childhood about these savage and treacherous creatures.

Native Americans, however, have always admired wolves for their intelligence and personality, their hunting prowess and the close family bonds so evident in the wolf pack. While we have done our best to eradicate them in the lower 48 states, luckily, today there is a new appreciation for the complex structure of the wolf pack and its ability to survive in the wild.

In this short novel, Marion Dane Bauer introduces us to a fictional wolf family in Minnesota through the eyes of a little wolf pup trying to find his identity in his pack. When the fifth and last pup is born to King and Silver, the alpha pair of the pack, he is not breathing. When King first sees the tiny pup, the word "Runt!" explodes from him while Silver tries to coax the first breath from her pup's lungs. Silver replies, "He may be Runt for now, but who knows what gift he will bring to the pack."

Poor little Runt! Saddled with the name his father gave him, the pup endures teasing and rejection from most of the other members of the pack, including his litter-mates, Leader, Sniffer, Thinker and Runner. …