Wolf Girl #5: Across the Sea – Anh Do

Illustrations – Lachlan Creagh

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

We pick up the story of Gwen, Rupert and the rest of the pack a few days after we left them in The Traitor. In that time, winter has begun to set in. Using the papers Rupert printed at the Captain’s mansion/compound (?) as a guide, the pack make their way to the village of Gulfoss.

There they stow away on a ship that’s taking dozens of adult prisoners to a new location. On board, they meet Rita, a cleaner, and find a potential new pack member, Pirate the pug.

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I liked Pirate but he couldn’t make up for the fact that we lost two of the pack in this book. Rupert found his parents on board the ship and he’s currently in captivity with them. I was frustrated that we didn’t get to learn anything about the history between Rupert and the Captain from The Traitor before Rupert left. There is a possibility we might see him and his parents later in the series, though. Eagle is also gone, although a small part of me is hoping Eagle didn’t actually die. I’ll probably read the next book to find out for sure but if they are really gone then I’ll be leaving the pack at that time.

I wondered where the kids got their cold weather clothing from. Rupert didn’t seem to bring anything with him when he left the camp and until now we’ve never experienced winter with Gwen.

I’m fine with Gwen understanding what the dogs and wolf are saying but I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that a couple of kids and some animals can consistently outwit and outmanoeuvre so many trained soldiers. They make it look too easy.

I think I’m beginning to struggle with this series mostly because it’s so much darker than a lot of Anh Do’s other series. There’s an overarching hope that one day Gwen will be reunited with her family but there’s not enough hope in each individual book for me. At this point I just want someone to do something silly to break up the constant danger.

Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’m reading this series during lockdown. Hopefully by the time the next book is released I won’t be in lockdown anymore and may have a different perspective on the trials and tribulations of the pack.

There’s a bonus chapter included at the end of this book that features a crossover with Skydragon. I’m not sure yet how I feel about Wolf Girl and Skydragon inhabiting the same world.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On a mission to find their families, Gwen, Rupert and the dogs strike out across treacherous ice and freezing oceans.

If they are to have any hope of survival, they must stowaway on a ship full of enemy soldiers. But sometimes help comes in unexpected forms. Someone new will join the pack … but who will leave?

Deep in the frozen tundra, the danger is heating up!

Wolf Girl #4: The Traitor – Anh Do

Illustrations – Lachlan Creagh

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

Gwen and Rupert travel outside of the forest for the first time in their search for their parents. It isn’t long before Sunshine goes missing. The rest of the pack immediately begin their search for her.

Although there’s plenty of action that Sunshine isn’t a part of, including some close encounters with a whole bunch of reptiles, this is really her book. She goes on both a physical and emotional journey, ultimately needing to make a very difficult choice.

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I didn’t want to have to say this but another book, another injured dog. Thankfully, Zip wasn’t the one injured this time around but that’s only because they found their owner at the end of the last book. The events in this book also injured a wolf.

While we are introduced to someone from Rupert’s past, we aren’t really given any details about their shared history. Rupert finds some valuable information that may help in the search for their parents but the pack still don’t seem any closer to actually finding them.

With a couple of new locations in this book, the pack get to navigate vastly different ground than what they’re accustomed to. Scenes which would be the perfect set up for dad jokes in other Anh Do series remain serious here. The entire series is a departure from the laughs I look forward to in Ninja Kid, Hot Dog and WeirDo.

I didn’t pick up on an inconsistency as obvious as the one I mentioned in my review of The Secret Cave. I did wonder, though, how Brutus is barely able to make it through an opening while Sunrise, who is absolutely huge, doesn’t appear to have any difficulties when she follows.

I noticed some scenes that were similar to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in the last book. In this one, I couldn’t help thinking Jurassic Park, especially when I came across this illustration.

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Wolf Girl and her trusty dogs are back for another hackle-raising adventure.

On the run from sinister forces, Gwen rushes head-long into danger. With giant snakes, komodo dragons and a whole new wolf pack to contend with, Wolf Girl will need all her cunning… and all her friends.

Wolf Girl #3: The Secret Cave – Anh Do

Illustrations – Lachlan Creagh

Gwen’s pack has a new member, Rupert, who we met in The Great Escape. Picking up shortly after where we left off, Gwen and Rupert are keen to find the trucks that drove away from the camp. They’re hoping their parents are amongst the adult workers that are being transported … somewhere.

Along the way they are chased by soldiers and meet Ma Taylor, a cat lady who proves that some adults in this world are still trustworthy.

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Between the chase sequence that led to a suspension bridge and the workers in the cave with mine carts, I couldn’t help getting Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom vibes from this book.

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The attention to detail isn’t quite as spot on in this book. An example was when Zip was being carried in a sling by Sunshine so he could rest a bit longer when the pack left Ma Taylor and her cats. Although he was supposedly still resting, a few pages later he was walking at the back of the pack with Nosey. Soon after, Zip is pictured being carried in the sling by Sunshine again.

The first two books in this series were illustrated by Jeremy Ley. Taking over from Ley in this book is Lachlan Creagh. While I could see differences between the ways Gwen and Rupert in particular were pictured by each artist, I still enjoyed the illustrations.

The dogs, wolf and eagle remain adorable.

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However, I’m getting pretty annoyed that dogs keep getting injured. Zip, who was injured in the second book, was hurt another two times in this one. I’m really hoping that action and a sense of danger doesn’t always result in animals being harmed in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Wolf Girl is back in the wild, but that doesn’t mean life is any easier for her and her loyal pack of dogs.

She has been searching for her family for a long time. Just when she feels she is close, the soldiers following her start to close in. Then Zip is injured and the pack has to slow down…

Who can Gwen trust? And how will she keep her pack safe while they are being hunted by dangerous enemies?

Does this spell disaster for the one and only Wolf Girl?

Wolf Girl #2: The Great Escape – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

It’s been two years since I read the first book in this series. I’ve devoured multiple Anh Do books since then but I’ve been hesitant to return to Wolf Girl. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy the first book; I did. My reluctance to continue this series has been based solely on my fear that something bad will happen to one of Gwen’s pack. I can handle all types of mayhem occurring in the lives of human characters but one of my weaknesses, in life and my life in books, relates to animals being harmed.

When we last saw Gwen she had just encountered her first humans in four years. Rather than this being cause for celebration, Gwen was instead imprisoned in the back of a truck because, well, some humans suck. When they arrive at a camp, a quarry surrounded by a high fence, Gwen is imprisoned again, this time in a cell.

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I had to escape this place!

In the camp, Gwen meets Fran, who seems to be in charge. She also meets Rupert, a boy about her age. He’s one of the many kids working at the camp. Gwen doesn’t know who she can trust, though.

Meanwhile, Gwen’s pack are on her trail.

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This series remains darker than Anh Do’s other books. It hasn’t been spelled out what’s really going on in Gwen’s world but some humans are clearly dangerous. The camp where children and adults are forced to work brought to mind concentration camps. Although we know kids are put to work carting rocks from one place to another, the camp’s overarching agenda is unknown at this point.

While Gwen still doesn’t know the fate of her human family, she now has a potential human friend in Rupert and she still has her loyal pack.

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A memory of her father gave me my favourite line in this book:

‘As long as we’re true to ourselves, and each other, we can fix just about everything’

So, was I right to be worried about Gwen’s pack? One of Gwen’s dogs is injured in this book but it’s not life threatening. Because of this, I’m going to proceed with caution. Fair warning, though… If any of Gwen’s dogs, her wolf or her eagle die, I’ll be bailing immediately.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

I held onto the bars of the truck and howled to my dogs as they fell further and further behind. 

Sunrise, Brutus, Zip, Nosey and Tiny all ran as hard as they could, but there was no way they could keep up…

At first, Gwen is overjoyed to see another human after four years alone in the wild. 

But all that changes when she is thrown into the back of a van and stolen away to a prison camp. 

The situation looks dire – how will her pack find her? Where is her human family? Are the other kids in the camp friends or enemies?

But Eagle is fast, the dogs are brave, and bars and fences are no match for the one and only Wolf Girl!

Wolf Girl #1: Into the Wild – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

Spoilers Ahead!

Before I tell you anything else, you need to know that I am beyond excited to finally have a signed copy of one of Anh’s books.

He’s one of my favourite authors!

Happy dance time!!!

Gwen is awoken in the middle of the night. Her school backpack is crammed with food and the rest of her family are rushing to pack what they can in their car before they leave. Gwen doesn’t know where they’re headed or what’s going on, only that something big and scary is happening. It isn’t long before she is separated from her mother, father and her big sister, Kate, who just turned eleven. She winds up alone in a forest in the middle of the night.

While Gwen can’t find any other people she does wind up meeting some animals that are just as alone as she is:
Puppy, a courageous wolf with a black patch on her forehead in the shape of a diamond. She has golden-yellow fur and turquoise eyes.
Nosey, a labrador, who is patient and smart.
Zip, a greyhound, who’s fast, but clumsy as a result of his diminished vision.
Tiny, a bossy and fearless chihuahua.

Along the way we also meet Brutus, a strong black mastiff,

and Eagle.

Over time this unlikely group become family, protecting one another and hunting together.

The dogs had become my brothers. Eagle was my little sister, and Puppy was my best friend.

Gwen still doesn’t know what happened to her human family but she’s determined to find out.

I fell in love with Anh’s writing when I discovered his WeirDo eries on the shelf of my local library a couple of years ago. I was intrigued by the fun lenticular covers and soon wanted to be a Do so I could hang out all the time with Weir and his family. I even laugh along with the terrible dad jokes! Then Hot Dog! appeared on the shelf and I met friends Hotdog the dog, Kev the cat and Lizzie the lizard. I enjoy the humour and the focus on friendship, and the importance of teamwork and being a good sport.

More recently I met Nelson Kane, Ninja Kid, and his family. I fell in love with them all, but hold a special place in my heart for Grandma Pat, who is one of the coolest grannies I’ve ever met. It was through Ninja Kid that I was introduced to one of my favourite kid’s book illustrators, Jeremy Ley.

Today I met Gwen. I was expecting more of the same when I learned Anh and Jeremy had teamed up again for a brand new series, Wolf Girl. I couldn’t have been more right! Or wrong!

The book vortex that sucks me in each time I pick up one of Anh’s books was working perfectly. There was adventure, a loving family and so much heart. Jeremy’s illustrations are just as brilliant as I’ve come to expect and still capture not only what’s happening in the story but also the way I feel as I’m reading. There’s even the familiar feeling of dangling over a cliff as I impatiently wait for the next book in the series.

It’s all so familiar … until it wasn’t. While all of Anh’s previous stories have a fun lightness underpinning them, this series begins with fear and uncertainty. What follows is the adventure I was expecting but a darker one with a distinct lack of dad jokes. Different doesn’t mean bad though. I loved it! And I may have noticed a sneaky tear trying to escape at one point. I urgently need the next book in the series.

Content warnings include war, kidnapping and remembered death of a beloved childhood pet.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When disaster separates Gwen from her family, she must fend for herself, all alone in the wilderness. 

Luckily, she’s not alone for long … When a wolf puppy, a Labrador, a Chihuahua, and a greyhound want to make friends, Gwen discovers talents she didn’t know she possessed. 

It will take all her new skills and strength just to survive. Does Gwen have what it takes to be leader of the pack?