The Wonder of William Grill, Seton and Shackleton

I don’t remember many of the books I read when I was a child, largely because I read furiously and fast. However, something was triggered after I’d finished reading William Grill’s latest information picture book, ‘The Wolves of Currumpaw’ -(Flying Eye Books.)

There has been a lot of fuss about this title. Sometimes this happens when a writer’s first book has been acclaimed, like Grill’s ‘Shackleton’s Journey’. I was skeptical. However, ‘The Wolves of Curumpaw’ is totally absorbing. The faded, native American ‘historical’ style illustrations, almost diagrammatic in approach, complement the emotional draw of this story, unknown to me, of the hold out between the last wolf pack of New Mexico, led by a Sherlock/ Superman wolf King of Curumpaw, Lobo, and Edward Seton, wolf hunter for hire. I was so captured by the story that I could barely face the final chapters. What is more, the twist in the tale is so encouraging, surprising and positive, that it led me to research further about North American wolves, and Seton himself.











I learned that he was an early influence on Lord Baden-Powell forming the Scout association, and was the first Boy Scout of America leader. His granddaughter was Anya Seton, author of ‘Katherine’ a story I loved as a child (a precocious child).

Reading ‘The Wolves of Curumpaw’ led me to reread William Grill’s ‘Shackleton’s Journey’- (Flying Eye Books)- which similarly told of a seemingly impossible struggle. I was reminded of the seeming absurdities in the Endurance expedition, from the construction of the boat (an artisan design, made in Norway, and bought for only £45,000 in today’s money) to the fact that the ability to sing was a prerequisite for any crew member! Somehow, in picture book form, William Grill manages to impress on the reader the enormity of the survival, against all odds, of Shackleton’s crew’. The leadership and camaraderie were exceptional, beyond anything in a Boy Scout manual!

My copy of ‘The Wolves of Curumpaw’ was intended for Jake’s ninth birthday parcel. Luckily for me, it is too special to give away. Another copy is needed for Jake. Mine will take its rightful place beside its equally lauded predecessor, ‘Shackleton’s Journey.’ Both deserve their plaudits. Bronnie