We Are Wolves – Nannestad, Katrina

<p>We Are Wolves</p>


We Are Wolves


Nannestad, Katrina


Heiduczek, Martina



Published Date



‘We Are Wolves’ is an historical fiction novel set in East Prussia during the final days of World War II. The story involves a German family with three young children, Liesel who is 12, Otto who is seven and Mia, who is just starting to walk and talk. In an early scene, these children, their mother, father and grandparents hastily leave their German homeland. Hitler’s regime has been defeated, and the Russians are coming, destroying much in their path. Where can the family go? How will they survive? How can they stay together? The story is so heart-rending that at times what happens to the children especially becomes extremely painful. Author, Katrina Nannestad, however, understands just how far to pursue events and what to suggest rather than detail. For example, when starvation is imminent, gunshots fly too close, and when adults turn the children away or threaten them harm, the author limits details. These may be moments for discussion between the young reader and an adult. Liesel tells this story from her point of view, which informs the reader while holding back some of the darker moments. The three children stay together and in spite of harrowing hardships, they make their way on foot to Lithuania when food and safety are more readily available. This novel is based on the true stories about the Wolfskinder – German children who survived these times by living as wolves, scouring the forests for food, scavenging for essentials and stealing what they needed to survive. They learn that people can be both cruel and kind. They face moral dilemmas such as stealing what is needed to survive and occupying homes which are not their own. The tone is serious throughout but there are warming scenes of humour and moments of deep satisfaction for both characters and readers. The story is ultimately one of kindness and heroism which will reach young readers. The occasional atmospheric grey-tone illustrations of the family and the forest offer resting and thinking time for young readers.

Key Concepts

Conflict, Cross cultural relations, Empathy, Family, Friendship, History, Hope, Intolerance, Kindness, Language, Loss, Peace, Racism, Relationships, Refugees, Resilience, Social justice, War


Secondary, Upper primary


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