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Animals in Literature

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The Girl and the Wolf

The Girl and the Wolf tells the story of a girl who wanders away from her mother while picking berries in the woods. When she realizes that she went too far and cannot find her mother, she begins to panic until a calm, wolf appears. Through a series of questions from the wolf, the girl realizes that she has the knowledge and skill to find her way to her mother. When the girl ultimately finds her way back, the wolf disappears.

Why use this book?

  • Students may identify with the situation the girl found herself in, needing to solve a problem all on their own.
  • Remembering to draw upon knowledge and past experiences in challenging situations can help students to find solutions.

Ask your students:

  • How did the author describe the wolf? Why did the author choose to describe the wolf in this way? Tall grey, big white teeth, breath was hot and stank of meat.
  • Why does the wolf tell the girl to ‘take a deep breath’? What did this help the girl do? Do you think this a good strategy to help deal with stress? Have you ever tried it?
  • Why did the wolf help the girl?
  • Do you think this story reveals any messages about human nature? If so, what are the messages?

Activities:

  • Tales with a Twist – Ask students to identify animals, such as a wolf, that are often portrayed negatively in movies or literature. As a class, reflect on reasons why these negative portrayals might be harmful to animals. In the author’s note, she mentions that this story is inspired by traditional stories that typically feature wolves as evil or hungry, and she doesn’t think that it’s fair. Read the story of Little Red Riding Hood, or, as a class, watch this read aloud video, Little Red Riding Hood. Discuss with students the similarities and differences between the two stories, paying close attention to how the wolf is portrayed. As a class, brainstorm a list of other classic stories and fairytales that feature an animal portrayed through a negative lens. I.e.: The wolf in: The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, etc.
  • Then, in small groups, have students create a script and reenact the story featuring the animal from their perspective and in a more positive light. Encourage students to use figurative language in their script.

The Girl and the Wolf is part of the AnimalTales program. Above, is a small selection of the discussion questions and activities that can be found in the Grade Five and Grade Six Teacher’s Guide. For additional discussion questions and activities request the FREE book-lending program for your class.

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