A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk (Book Review)

A Wolf at the Gate

Having previously enjoyed Mark Van Steenwyk’s The unKingdom of God (see my review), I was delighted for the opportunity to read his new children’s book, A Wolf at the Gate. I have an almost-two-year-old son, so I read it out loud to him to see what he thought of it as well.

I’d like to first note the format of this book. Based on the illustrations I saw online, I initially believed this would be a short picture-based book, but it’s quite a bit more than that. The book’s seven chapters take up 76 pages, with many full-page color illustrations scattered throughout. I’d guess that about a fourth of the pages are illustrations.

Speaking of the illustrations, they’re beautiful! Joel Hedstrom did an excellent job creating them to be distinct and attractive. However, a handful of them were a bit intense (a wolf attacking people, etc.). There was no gore, but they were just a little frightening, and I chose not to show those ones to my young son. Older children will probably be fine with them, but individual parents can be the judge of what is appropriate for their kids. The majority of illustrations should be fine for everyone.

As for the story itself, it is a wonderful retelling and expansion of the legend of Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. I found it to be a very enjoyable tale with engaging characters and many important lessons throughout. My son seemed to enjoy the book as much as he could be expected to at his age. He loved the illustrations that I did show him. And I’m looking forward to reading it with him again when he’s a bit older and able to understand and appreciate the different themes presented therein.

Thank you, Mark, for sending me a copy to review!

Pick up your own copy of A Wolf at the Gate as a hardcover, a paperback, or a Kindle eBook.