“Tangled Branches tapped at the windows as the car nosed down the track towards the house. Amelia shivered happily. It was a bit like a fairy tale, this huge, old, abandoned house, deep in the countryside. There had been a sign at the end of the track, half grown over with ivy. Amelia had just about been able to see that it said ‘Allen House’.”
Amelia is excited for her Scottish Christmas break in the old house that now belonged to her mum and her mum’s aunt. The house was in the middle of nowhere and it would be a proper family Christmas. However she didn’t expect that her cousin Tom, the cousin closest to her own age, would come as a package deal with Freddie, a huge big husky dog that Amelia didn’t like the look of at all. Ever since a dog knocked her over in the park Amelia has been terrified of them and now she has to spend Christmas trying to hide from Freddie. One particular afternoon while keeping out of Freddie’s way Amelia finds herself in the attic, where she uncovers the diary of her ancestor, Noah Allen. Noah has his own animal related disaster going on as he is trying to help an abandoned wolf pup. When Amelia finds herself transported into the wintry world of Noah’s life she must face her fears or risk abandoning both Noah and the pup when they need her most.
This was such a cute book that really put me in the mood for Christmas. It had all the right settings, the right feelings and covered some brilliant topics that I thought were just right for the age range it is aimed at. I loved it now but it probably would have been one of my favourite books of all time had I read it when I was 7 or 8!
The story is sweet and really focuses on Amelia’s fear of dogs and what that means for her stay at Allen House. She was in for a miserable Christmas break when she found out Freddie was staying at the house too, but then the magic of Noah’s diary helped her face her fears. I loved that she was transported into this world where she needed to help them, but also they were helping her too because both Noah and the pup allowed her to get over the fear and move on. It was a heartwarming story and definitely one I think a lot of kids would love to read.
The writing was simple but that is because of the age group its aimed at. I very rarely read books of this age group – 6 to 8 – because of how simplified I find the text, but this was exciting because of the story and it made me bypass the writing a lot. Even then its not all ‘she said’ ‘he said’ like I remember a lot of books were from when I was that age and there were some parts of the book that surprised me. The text itself was bigger to allow for easier reading and it was interspersed with pictures which were adorable. The diary entries were a fantastic addition to the book because they really did allow me to be immersed into Amelia’s world and I think that the author did a brilliant job of conveying the characters feelings in order to make the reader feel like part of the book itself.
The characters were brilliant and I loved Amelia’s can do attitude, she was very brave and very strong. She was only 10 which was quite obvious in the things she thought and said but I think she was quite a mature ten year old. Noah was a nice character and I liked that the time difference came across well in the things he said. I think there would have been more of a difference but it might have made reading for the younger readers very difficult so I liked the way it was done. The other characters like Tom, Freddie, Amelia’s mum and sister, were all very minor but still managed to convey some sense of personality which I enjoyed.
The Winter Wolf was definitely what I wanted when I was browsing my shelves for stories to get me into the Christmas spirit. I warmed my heart whilst making me grab for my blanket and it made me think of all the things to be grateful for in my life. It was a lovely story and now I’ve read it I’ll definitely be putting Holly Webb on my list of authors to look out for for my own children.The winter Wolf was published by Stripes during October 2014. My copy was an unsolicited review copy sent from the publisher. To buy the book or for more info please visit: Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website