Perfect Picture Book Friday: Journey: The Most Famous Wolf in the West

Hurray for Perfect Picture Book Friday! I started blogging at the end of 2010. I knew I wanted my posts to appeal to parents and teachers so right away, I reserved one day for writing a picture book review. That’s because in my opinion, reading to young children is of the utmost importance. And there are so many choices out there, I thought it might be helpful to highlight the picture books I wanted to recommend.

Then I discovered that a wonderful picture book author, Susanna Leonard Hill, had started a link up on her website for picture book reviews. I went. I saw. I fell in love. And the rest if history. I’ve been participating in her Perfect Picture Book Friday hop ever since. Click here for more of this week’s wonderful reviews on her blog.

Today’s selection is very close to my heart for several reasons. I’ve always had a fascination with wolves. And the author of the book, Emma Bland Smith, is a fellow Storm Literary Agency teammate. PLUS, Emma will be my Will Write for Cookies guest tomorrow…so don’t miss her interview and a GIVEAWAY of this beautiful book in tomorrow’s post.


JOURNEY: The Most Famous Wolf in the West

Written by Emma Bland Smith

Illustrated by Robin James

Publisher: Little Bigfoot (Imprint of Sasquatch Books: 2016)

Ages: Kindergarten – Grade 4


Wolves, animal conservation


From Amazon:

This beautiful picture book follows the journey of a young gray wolf who garnered nationwide attention when he became the first wild wolf in California in almost a century. Using facts recorded by Fish & Wildlife scientists, author Emma Bland Smith imagines the wolf’s experiences in close detail as he makes an epic 2,000-mile trek over three years time. The wolf’s story is interwoven with the perspective of a young girl who follows his trek through the media. As she learns more about wolves and their relationships with humans, she becomes determined to find a way to keep him safe by making him a wolf that is too famous to harm.

Opening Lines:

“The wolf took one last look at his mother and his father.”

Why I like this book:

  • This is an absolutely beautiful book on two levels…the story of the wolf seeking a new home to make a family…and the story of a girl who follows the wolf’s journey…what a perfect way for young children to connect with the concept of animal conservation and realize that even a child can make a difference.
  • The text engages the reader/listener from the first lines to the last. And the illustrations by Robin James are exquisite!


  1. In the back matter, the author provides a wealth of information about the wolf’s journey and many related classroom activities, plus there is a teacher’s guide at
  2. Find out if there are any animal conservation efforts in your area.


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

And don’t forget…please don’t miss tomorrow’s post when




About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on November 18, 2016, in animal conservation, Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Last Christmas my mother bought my husband a book about this wolf. It’s a thick book with photos. He’s never read it because he knew the wolf dies and as an animal lover he didn’t want to read a book, fall in love with the main character and then face that truth at the end. Just too much for his big heart, I guess.

    But now I see this picture book. And it looks lovely. And yea, it’s for kids but…

    I can’t wait to find it and read it.


  2. This looks like a wonderful book, Vivian. I love the message of empowerment/action for young kids. Interestingly, I also featured a book entitled Journey today, Francesca Sanna’s The Journey, about a refugee’s journey to a new life away from a war-torn region.


  3. What a gorgeous cover! This goes on my look-for list!


  4. What an inspiring story! I love how the author has presented this book to children. This is a must read. I love wolves.


  5. When I read that the girl was determined to find a way to keep the wolf safe by making him a wolf that is too famous to harm, I immediately thought of the book, Charlottes Web, in which Charlotte works to keep Wilbur safe, by making him a pig too famous to harm. I, too, have always enjoyed books about wolves, and I’m topping my library list with this book. Thanks for another perfect picture book review this Friday!


    • Thank you, Leslie! Wow, the comparison to Charlotte NEVER occurred to me. Thank you so much for mentioning that! I’m going to use that analogy when I’m reading to school groups, to talk about what the conservation group was trying to do!


  6. I’ve been super-confused by this picture book I’ve heard a lot about his fall called Journey. Today your post and the one at (both participating in Perfect Picture Book Friday) helped me sort it out: one is about a wolf, one is about refugees. Two competely separate books!
    Both of which I am now eager to read.


  7. I find it sad and hard to believe there have been no wild wolves in California for most of the twentieth century. I’ll have to check this out. Thanks.


    • Hi Patricia! Thanks for visiting. I’m eager to check that book out!


    • Hi Joanne. Thanks for your comment! Yes, I agree–it is surprising. I was so saddened to read about the slaughter of wolves all over the country. We have so much space in Northern California, and now it’s exciting and wonderful that we have wolves again!


  8. Fabulous and heart tugging opening lines. This is a book I would love, as I am a wolf fan. What a gorgeous cover.


  9. mariagianferrari

    It’s a lovely book indeed!! Congrats, Emma & thanks for sharing, Vivian!! Looking forward to the interview 🙂


    • Thank you, Maria! And I bought Coyote Moon and have been loving it! I lent it to a kindergarten teacher at our school because she talks a lot about coyotes and brings the kids to the park to look for them, and she read the book to them several times.


  10. Love this book. Great review, thanks.


  11. What an amazing cover. Kids will pick this one up for sure. And the opening first line that you shared makes me want to pick it up and read, right now! Thank you for sharing.


  1. Pingback: Emma Bland Smith: Will Write for Cookies | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

  2. Pingback: Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly) | The Reading Zone

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