IndieFab Awards

ad-indiefabfaveA Wolf at the Gate has been selected as a finalist for the Foreword Reviews IndieFab Awards, including both an award for Juvenile Fiction and Reader’s Choice Award!

The Juvenile Fiction award will be judged by a panel. But the Reader’s Choice Award is decided by you!

Awards like this help projects like A Wolf at the Gate get attention…which translates into more receptiveness from bookstores and libraries. Winning this would be a fairly big deal. But we need your help to do it.

To show your love, visit the link below by May 20 and comment saying that A Wolf at the Gate is your ‪#‎INDIEFABFAVE‬.

Currently, we need about 50 more votes to take the lead. We’re competing with some fairly popular authors (including some New York Times bestselling authors). But I believe we can do it if enough of you vote and share the love on social media.

Irenicast Interview

I was recently interviews on Irenicast about the book. Check it out.

Irenicast is dedicated to conversations on faith and culture. Hosts Jeff, Mona, and Allen explore various topics from pop culture to the more serious issues impacting religion, society, and day-to-day life. New episodes are posted every Tuesday (with the occasional bonus episode on Fridays). In addition to thought-provoking conversation Jeff, Mona & Allen indulge in more light-hearted segments like Jesus or Jay-Z?, Famous Christians for 100, IreniHacks and Jesus Juke, to name a few.

Book Launch Party

You are invited to the official launch party for A Wolf at the Gate! This family friendly event will include a public reading, music, and food! The books is already getting rave reviews from kids and adults alike!


2420 11th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404


5pm to 7pm on Sunday, May 3
Get your book signed by author Mark Van Steenwyk and illustrator Joel James Hedstrom! If you haven’t purchased your copy, discounted copies will be available for purchase.

Listen to music by Jonathan Felton from the forthcoming children’s album!

Enjoy yummy foods inspired by the book!

Event starts at 5:00pm. The performative part of the evening goes from 5:15 to 6:45.

Grown ups will be invited to go out afterwards for an informal celebration.

One of Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month of May

The editors at Kirkus Reviews have chosen A Wolf At The Gate to be featured as one of Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month for May! This is great news for our little indie book.

In their starred review they call A Wolf at the Gate “a book out of time: a coupling of narrative and illustration that should stoke the imagination of any young modern reader…A visually stunning work addressing themes of peace, generosity, and forgiveness.”

The book has been garnering rave reviews. But we need your help to spread word; self-published books have to work against the flow to get picked up by libraries and bookstores. So, please consider calling your local library and favorite bookstore to put in a good word. Most public libraries have purchase request forms on their website as well.

A Wolf at the Gate receives a starred review from Kirkus!

We’ve received a lot of very positive reviews, but we’re particularly proud of our starred review from Kirkus:

Van Steenwyk (The Unkingdom of God, 2013, etc.) offers an illustrated chapter book about an angry red wolf who encounters a saintly beggar king.

The Red Wolf is born into a pack that lives deep in the woods outside of the town of Stonebriar. Her parents raise her with tales of the history of her kind, the Lords of the Forest, who have slowly ceded their territory to the growth of human settlement. They also teach her the necessity of never taking more food than necessary and sharing what she has with others. The Red Wolf grows up angry; eventually, her parents die and she loses her pack before becoming the rage-fueled Blood Wolf that haunts the dreams of Stonebriar’s residents. It takes the appearance of the Beggar King, a man of peace who holds the respect of both the townsfolk and the forest animals, to calm the Red Wolf’s anger and teach her to live in harmony with her neighbors. The Red Wolf then takes these lessons and uses them to solve a problem: a band of outlaws lives in her woods and terrorizes the surrounding towns. She must decide whether there are better solutions to cruelty than violence and whether such solutions are practical in a world short on sympathy. The story is an imaginative retelling of the legend of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio; though rooted in Christian tradition, the book contains no overt religiosity, and secular parents should feel comfortable recommending it to their children. Van Steenwyk writes in sharp, muscular prose highly suitable for the fabulistic subject matter, deftly navigating both the darker and lighter segments of the story. The true standouts of the book, however, are the illustrations by Joel Hedstrom. Taking Japanese woodblock printing and Greek vases as his inspiration, Hedstrom supplements the text with full-page illustrations in brilliant colors that feel simultaneously ancient and stylishly contemporary. The result is a book out of time: a coupling of narrative and illustration that should stoke the imagination of any young modern reader.

A visually stunning work addressing themes of peace, generosity, and forgiveness.

Why is this such a big deal? According to the Washington Post, only about 10 percent of the 7,000 traditionally published books that Kirkus reviews each year receive a star. And among the 3,000 self published books (like A Wolf at the Gate) they review each year, only about 2 percent receive a star. The odds were against us, but our little story about a red wolf is getting folks’ attention!

A Wolf at the Gate: Jon Felton and Mark Van Steenwyk Present a Children’s Story in Word and Song

11034258_10153197747444575_1986861539514857964_nJon Felton and Mark Van Steenwyk met several years ago at an event in North Carolina where Mark was speaking and the Soulmobile was performing. Jon remembers Mark mentioning how, even when raising kids in an intentional community that is all about hospitality and peacemaking, it’s hard to make nonviolence as attractive as the cultural myth of redemptive violence.

Years later, their paths crossed again as members of the Carnival de Resistance. As they put on their clown costumes backstage, Mark talked about the book he was working on and asked Jon to write an accompanying children’s album. They shook on it and leapt to the stage.

Join them on March 8 as they share the stage again, and as they share with you the stories and songs of the Red Wolf, and her journey to redemption and sacrificial love.


“A Wolf at the Gate” is a beautifully illustrated new children’s book exploring non-violent conflict resolution and economic justice in a story that kids can actually get excited about. Although he lives in Minneapolis, Mark is in town to help put the finishing touches on the accompanying children’s album, written and recorded here in Frostburg by Jon Felton and BJ Lewis of the Soulmobile.

Join us for snacks and a wonderful, interactive time of singing and storytelling!
Sunday, March 8 at Mountain City Traditional Arts in Frostburg, Maryland at 2:00pm

book done. audiobook and album underway.

In February 2014, I raised over $12,000 in a Kickstarter campaign for this book project. The project grew out of a deep desire to teach my son, Jonas, about nonviolence. Jonas, like many little boys and girls, loves to dress up and pretend he is a knight or pirate or ninja. Our society has successfully captivated the imaginations of our young with stories of fighting and violence. Check out this video (Jonas appears after the halfway point) to see what I mean:

There must be a way to teach children an alternative to the glorification of war and battle. Not that I’m against play fighting. I can sword fight with the best of them. But we need to put more imaginative power behind stories that promote peace.

There are a fair number of peaceful books out there.  Many are pretty boring. Many are excellent, but skew towards nonfiction (as much as I appreciate children’s books about Gandhi and Dr. King, books like these lack the fantastical adventure that my son so loves). We need more imaginative books promoting nonviolence.

That is why I wrote this book. And now, after nearly a year of work, it has gone to press (and Joel’s artwork is amazing).  It will be officially published in March 2015. Between now and then, I’ll be working hard to get copies to those who contributed on Kickstarter. I’ll also be sending review copies out to major publications. If you work with a publication or have a well-tended blog, please contact us.

Over the next few months, I’ll continue to work with Jon Felton and his Soulmobile on the children’s album (so far, the music has exceeded my expectation…which were already high). And I’ll record an audiobook version with my friend Orrin (who did all the recording with me on the Iconocast).