'The Winter Dog' is M.C.Holliss's first Callum adventure but is part of her much larger 'Magical History Stories' series. In these books, which are aimed at primary school aged children, the author, herself a former teacher, seeks to introduce historical facts by combining them with fantastical characters, such as dragons, in a way that will entirely grip the imagination. This particular story is starkly and atmospherically illustrated by Sol Hilmarsdottir in monochrome.
The hero, a young Scottish lad named Callum, finds what he thinks is a large black dog lying injured at the side of the road on his way back from school one bitter cold, snowy afternoon in late December. Dragging the creature home on some sacking, he nurses it back to health in spite of his mother's misgivings and their realisation that it is no dog they're sheltering but a wolf, even though wolves had been believed to be extinct in Scotland for many years. A strong bond forms between the boy and the wolf and after the animal returns fully fit to the wild, it returns to watch over and protect Callum whenever he's in danger.
This is an exciting and nail-biting tale that children will love. It gives a real sense of the hardship of everyday life, both rural and urban, in nineteenth century Scotland. Interestingly, the debate continues about the re-introduction of once native species to the wild but the jury isn't out on praise for this book, which, hopefully is the first of many featuring Callum and his friends.
Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
It is the sort of story that I would have thoroughly enjoyed reading as a child
When Callum encounters an injured dog on his way home from school, he is determined to care for him and continues to do so even when he learns that the dog is in fact a wolf. Despite hostility from others, the wolf becomes Callum's protector as he and his family engage in their everyday activities and especially when they make a trip to Edinburgh.
Set in Scotland when wolves roamed the land, this tale has a distinctly traditional ambiance so the addition of a glossary at the end of the book is welcome.... Read Full Review
An enjoyable book, suitable for competent readers, both girls and boys.
Set in Scotland about 100 years ago, this tells the tale of Callum, a young boy who lives in the country near Edinburgh with his mother, his father being away at sea. He befriends an injured wolf who becomes his protector, saving him from various dangerous situations. A well written book, the action is well paced and keeps the reader involved. I thought the ending was rather abrupt, what will happen to Jinny, and the wolf? This was not explained. Perhaps the reader is to imagine their own ending.... Read Full Review