Grand Mauvais Loup (Big Bad Wolf) is the pervasive image of canis lupus. This morning, on Christmas day, I was pleased to hear Daniel Pinkwater read his story, Wolf Christmas, on NPR – so much so, that I wrote the following letter:
Daniel Pinkwater’s story for children, “Wolf Christmas,” is a refreshing change from the stereotypical portrayals of the wolf as an “evil” character in traditional Western fairy tales and contemporary media.
Wolves once ranged over the entire North American continent, and figured prominently in Native American stories, where they were recognized as integral members of a shared world. Admired for keen hunting skills and strong devotion to family, wolves were seen as role models for qualities that indigenous people, and indeed people of all cultures aspire to.
Pinkwater’s story illustrates several key elements of wolf behavior and social structure—dominance of the alpha male and female; supportive roles of beta wolves—appropriately for young children. In addition, the story alludes to dangers wolves face in our human world, where they are misunderstood and often cruelly persecuted. It’s time we changed our mythology of the wolf to a more fair and balanced view, and “Wolf Christmas” is a wonderful contribution toward that aim.
I strongly encourage folks to send original stories (for children, adults, or both!) to firstname.lastname@example.org for posting on our prose page.
Many blessings for the coming year, for humans and for wolves!