Reviews

A Wolf at the Gate is a simple story that evokes profound and fundamental themes: survival, hunger, war and violence, law and justice, fear, greed, and predation. In the hands of Mark Van Steenwyk it becomes a transformative parable of truth and reconciliation, the power of community, and the dazzling force of love enacted in the public square, the very heart of justice.” – Bill Ayers

“Van Steenwyk (That Holy Anarchist) retells the story of St. Francis of Assisi and the wolf of Gubbio in his first book for children. This time, the story is narrated from the point of view of the wolf with a red coat, “born under the red glow of the Hunter’s Moon,” a clever shift that adds tension and new beauty to a familiar tale. When her pack is forced to leave their native forest because humans in nearby Stonebriar deplete the wolves’ food, she remains. Angry and starving, the red wolf begins to prey on humans and their livestock. Soon, Blood Wolf, as she is now called, meets the Beggar King, “beloved by the common folk.” Under his tutelage, she transforms from angry, violent predator—feared by animals and humans alike—to kind friend to all, renamed Sister Wolf. As a result of her instruction from the Beggar King, Sister Wolf comes to understand that all life is worth preserving and that loving kindness is the greatest of all gifts. Influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, Hedstrom’s stark, solid, and lovely illustrations appear throughout.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“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…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.” Kirkus (starred review)

“…a profound and beautiful work, I pray that it will widely read and shared with children and adults alike.” – The Englewood Review of Books

A Wolf at the Gate is a canvas upon which to paint several thematically connected stories, all informed by Mark’s commitment to social justice and child-like sense of wonder.” —Picture Books Review

“What a cutting-edge book! This retelling of a timeless story through fresh eyes not only provides a deeper insight into its original values, it also gives the story contemporary relevance. And the illustrations are an absolutely perfect embodiment of the book’s soul.” – Innosanto Nagara, author of A is for Activist

“In a tale akin to a parable, ‘A Wolf at the Gate’ presents a simple story that opens up the heart and mind to the profound truths of peace, love and compassion.  A timely book for all ages.” – Jamie Arpin-Ricci, author of  The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom

“Adventures and travels blend with accounts of little acts of kindness and courage to create a compelling fable that all ages will enjoy in a story of promises and hard lessons learned in the forest of life.” – Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“…this timely fable will make young and old alike question the way we live and the way we react to challenges.” – Duncan Tonatiuh, author of Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale

“In A Wolf at the Gate, we find a medieval fable made potently relevant. With solid prose and timeless illustrations, this book is recommended to all families passionate about social justice and living in harmony with the Earth.
– Chris Crass, author of Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy

“In his wonder-filled re-imagining of the legend of Saint Francis and the wolf, Mark Van Steenwyk weaves a twisting, spellbinding, always-surprising tale of fear and redemption and, ultimately, peace.” – Arthur Salm, author of ANYWAY

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