We Are Wolves – Mount Martha PS

Shadow judges at Mount Martha Primary school were given a choice of 10 reading response tasks to complete after reading the shortlisted texts. The responses were designed to be shared with the wider school community in the hope that they would promote interest and borrowing of the Younger Readers shortlist.

When responding to the texts, shadow judges were asked to share their opinion about the text, identify devices used by the author and respond to the specific CBCA judging criteria.

Due to the extended lockdown experienced in Victoria, our shadow judges undertook their tasks and took photos of their completed projects at home. We hope to share their work with the school community when we are back onsite.

Ava and Zoe responded to We are Wolves. Zoe was inspired to undertake further research on the author and on WWII as the setting of the book. You can find her ideas here …

Ava chose to respond to We are Wolves by writing a letter to the Grade 6 teachers, using the judging criteria to help her convince the teachers to purchase the text for Year 6 Literature Circles. You can see her letter here …

Dear Mrs Giles,

As you know I am included in our school’s CBCA shadow judging group. I am writing to you to talk about our literacy circle books. I deeply enjoy literacy circles – and love books – but I found that I can’t get as involved with the discussions due to my dislike of some books, but they’re not quite my style, know what I mean? As good as they are, I have found something even better.

‘We are Wolves’ by Katrina Nannestad is one of the six shortlisted books (for this topic) in Australia, and is truly amazing. I already know that many children in grade six will adore the book because of many things, but one thing will really put it over the edge, and that is the genre/topic. It is a historical fiction and based around world war two. It is a first person perspective, coming from 11 year old Liesl who lives in East Prussia, Germany. She and her two siblings are escaping East Prussia before the Russians invade along with Mama, Oma and Opa. Though the children lose all of them along the way and are forced to survive on their own… They live wild, live like wolves, which brings me to my favourite quote from the book.

As we went to bed I did not remind Mia and Otto that we are not wild.

That we are not wolves.

Because sometimes it’s good to be wild.

Sometimes you have to be wild.

 Of course there is much more to a book than just the happenings! Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

First we have literary merit. The language is very descriptive and has the occasional simile. The words are definitely high vocabulary level and I assume that our grade will know most of the words included in the story. I know that this book would make a great movie as it has so many twists and turns, an intriguing topic and the happenings within are one of a kind.

Moving onto cohesiveness. The style of the writing is, as I said before, a first person point of view. This certainly adds to the story as it shows what a child our age would think and do in these situations. 

The book flows smoothly through chapters, phrases and thoughts. Every chapter (or paragraph) is generally about something different, although it is not wildly different – every new thought is somehow linked or passed down from the last.

Handing it over to appeal. I, personally, loved this book. As you probably already know we were given two weeks to read this book. In fact, I was so wrapped up in the story that I finished with a handful of days to spare! Unfortunately for literacy circles we can only read a specific part, which could prove difficult. I know that we are amongst an age group absolutely perfect for this book. I think that it is meant for children between ages 10 and 13.

I would also recommend this book to my dad (though he is probably a bit old for it, he is so interested in the topic), my brother (who is also into things about world war one and two) and the people that read ‘Once’ for the last literacy circles. 

Next we have the very important quality. One thing that really sets this book apart from others is the fact that it is a hard copy with a captivating illustration on the front. The words are set out well on the page – nobody will have trouble figuring out what order to read the words in, what the text shows, etc. 

I found absolutely nothing that needed to be edited. All words were used and spelt correctly, the punctuation was better than accurate…

The chapters are set out perfectly. They are clearly marked and used properly. Although, they follow a similar format. Many chapters end in cliffhangers and following chapters will solve that problem from the last one.

Anytime a new day or completely new topic occurs (without being a new chapter) a small icon of a couple of leaves is placed in between paragraphs.

Finally, we have reached originality. I have never read a book like this before and seriously doubt that anyone else has. Yes, I do know that there are many books on the topic of World War Two but I can guarantee you that none are like this because it is from a childrens’ view. I found that it was easy to predict incorrectly as I have done a few times while reading. 

Some books are so basic that you almost feel like you’ve heard of the story before. If you read ‘We are Wolves’ every part, no, every sentence will be new and never-done-before.

There you have it, Mrs Giles. I hope that you agree with me now; I am absolutely certain that this book will be a fantastic read for grade six in the upcoming literacy circles. Please consider discussing with the other teachers of our grade and get them on board with purchasing some of these books. Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,

Ava M

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