Our June book club pick was THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER by Diane Magras. This meticulously researched story set in medieval Scotland was engrossing from the very first page to the detailed research notes just after the story’s conclusion.
Although the book was full of adventure, battles, tough scrapes, and excellent social commentary, it was Drest’s internal journey that captivated me. Because while the plot of the book centers on Drest rescuing her father and brothers, members of a legendary war-band, the heart of the story is all about whether she herself will take her place in the Mad Wolf’s legend or create one of her own.
And so she sets off for Faintree Castle with Emerick, a wounded enemy soldier, as her sometimes prisoner, sometimes friend. Throughout her rescue mission to Faintree Castle, Drest not only recounts her family’s code to Emerick and Tig, an additional companion they pick up on the way, but she forms guiding principles of her own. In what feels like a timeless middle-grade theme, Drest moves from the very battle-focused code her father and brothers taught her to one of her own design.
That’s not to say that Drest doesn’t throw herself into danger, risking her life not only for her friends, but complete strangers. She has a strong moral compass and constantly fights to right wrongs when she sees injustice happening around her. That’s why the revelation that some consider her family bandits, not heroes, weighs so heavily on her.
Ultimately, the pragmatism and bravery Drest shows on her journey—whether saving a witch from burning at the stake or sparing a bandit who torments her throughout her journey—makes her a legend in her own right. And she even discovers, as with all legends, the truth about her family’s own legends isn’t black and white: Not quite as heroic as her family might have led her to believe, but not as dastardly either.
Readers ages 10 to 110 will fall under Drest’s spell as they fly through this captivating story. To learn more about the author, or for printable drawing pages, activities, recipes, and discussion questions, check out our Middle Grade at Heart newsletter devoted to The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.
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The Middle Grade @ Heart book club pick for July is JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS by Melissa Sarno! Stay tuned for more posts about this awesome book and don’t forget to join us for our Twitter chat on THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER on July 3!