“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”—Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Review and Thoughts
Our story begins with Annabelle, a young girl who lives on her family’s farm during WWII. Everything is fine for Annabelle and her family until a new girl, Betty Glengarry, arrives at a nearby farm and starts making trouble. In fact, in my opinion, she is absolutely horrific. She begins bullying and torturing Annabelle on her way to and from school and Annabelle is constantly afraid.
One day, as the bullying reaches a high point, the local recluse named Toby comes to Annabelle’s defense and the conflict of the story begins. Betty and her friend are able to turn an entire town against Toby in the manner of a few days. This is where Annabelle “comes of age” and learns to lie to save someone she knows is innocent.
Annabelle shows great maturity in her dealings with Toby. She shows sensibility far beyond many of her neighbors and it is through her actions and interactions the readers are able to see human nature. We see how quick to judge and how unforgiving of preconceived notions people can be. This book shows what loss can do to people and how feelings of abandonment can ruin someone.
Wolf Hollow shares a lot of common themes and motifs as To Kill a Mockingbird. There is a strong, young, female protagonist who comes to the defense of the town outcast. She befriends him and finds that he is just a man trying to live his life after something painful has happened. Unfortunately, however, I feel like the “lessons” in Wolf Hollow are a little too obvious. The author really tries to push the morals at the reader instead of letting the reader discover them on his own. Aside from this, it is a well-written novel and kept my interest for the entirety of the book. I felt for the protagonist and for Toby, and Betty was a truly awful villain.
I’d recommend this book for junior high/middle school readers, with a few concerns listed below. It is a good piece of modern literature and a captivating read.
Note: As mentioned in the novel, a wolf hollow is a hole dug in the ground to capture wolves. The wolf falls in and the hunter comes and kills them. This was done when the wolves in the area became too vicious and there were too many to handle.
Possible Concerns (Potential Spoilers):
- Betty Glengarry bullies Annabelle. At one point she hits Annabelle so hard with a stick that it leaves a huge welt on her leg. Another time, Annabelle is forced to watch as Betty breaks the neck of a pigeon. The description is quite detailed.
- Betty falls into a hole and she gets “snagged” on a pipe that is sticking out. The account of them pulling her off the pipe is detailed.
- Why do you think Betty Glengarry acts the way she does? In your opinion, is there any way she could have been helped?
- Do you think it was ok for Annabelle to lie to her parents? Is it ever ok to lie to your parents?
- What do you think might have happened to Toby to make him act the way he does?
- How does the town treat people based on appearances?
- How did Annabelle “grow up” by the end of the novel?
- This is a great article (moreso for adults reading the book to aid children) It helps with understanding Catholic teaching with regard to Veteran Care. Read “Catholic Tradition and Veterans’ Care”.
- Read this article from US Catholic discussing modern veterans returning stateside. You can find “Returning Vets: Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” here.
- Say this prayer for our troops.
- Do one of these activities to celebrate veterans on Veteran’s Day.
- Learn about St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers.
- Read this article from CatholicMom.com about preparing your kis for handling bullies.
General Teaching Resources
- Learn more about antagonists and villains. Adapt this lesson plan to fit your grade level.
- Complete a character analysis of Annabelle. Use the five methods of characterization:
- what other characters think about them
- Define bildungsroman. Explain how this novel fits that definition.
- Identify the elements of plot throughout the story. (Use this great presentation as an introduction to the elements.) Where does the climax occur?