Family Pack book cover image

Family Pack

  • 799

By: Sandra Markle / Illustrated by: Alan Marks

A real-life story of adaptation and survival.

Acclaimed science writer Sandra Markle and celebrated artist Alan Marks team up for the fifth time in this fascinating real-life story of a wolf and her pack.

Years ago, an effort had been made to eliminate wolves from Yellowstone National Park. Recently, conservationists decided to reintroduce the animal to the area, relocating wolves from Canada. Family Pack introduces readers to Female 7 and Male 2, the founders of the Leopold wolf pack—the first naturally formed pack after the relocation effort.

Readers follow Female 7 as she sets out on her own upon her release to the 2.2-million-acre area that is Yellowstone. Without the comfort of her mother or other wolves, the young female grows and learns to feed, hunt, and survive in her new home. Eventually, she crosses paths with Male 2, and the wolves form a family of their own.

Back matter includes more information about wolves, a bibliography, and an author’s note about the Leopold pack and the importance of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone, restoring the natural balance.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Sandra Markle, author

Sandra Markle is the author of more than 200 nonfiction books on science topics for children and her books have won over 30 awards, including the NSTA and CBC's list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children, the International Reading Association's Young Adults Choice Award, the Society of School Librarians International Book Award for Language Arts K-6, the Parent's Guide to Children's Media Nonfiction Award, The Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year Award, and Nick Jr. magazine's Best Books of the Year Award. Markle has been named Georgia Author of the Year five times and was honored as one of 1999's Women of the Year by Women in Technology International for her contributions to science and technology.

Read more about Sandra.

Alan Marks, illustrator

Alan Marks began his career illustrating for magazines and newspapers in England. His first children's book Storm, written by Kevin Crossley Holland, won the Carnegie Medal. Alan now illustrates a wide variety of subjects, from nursery rhymes to war poetry.

Read more about Alan.

Awards & Honors:

  • An NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
  • CCBC Choices 2012
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

As they did with their award-winning A Mother's Journey (2005), Markle and Marks bring the natural world close through the story of a single female animal—in this case, one of the grey wolves released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The young female chooses to live and hunt on her own for a year but eventually encounters a solitary male, with whom she mates and raises pups. The family becomes the first naturally formed pack in Yellowstone. The author manages to leave humankind out of the story; without a hint of anthropomorphism but with vivid, poetic language, she shows readers the wolves bound only by nature—"the young wolf stops, watching her prey escape / through a silver cloud of panted breath." Likewise, the illustrator’s watercolors add drama and energy (but no gore), all the while keeping the wolves’ animal nature paramount. The wolves in action are especially fine: The female pounces on the mouse in the snow; with her mate, she corners a buck. An excellent story for wolf-lovers and a welcome addition to elementary-school science shelves.


A young female wolf, brought from Canada and released in Yellowstone National Park, explores the snowy land. Seeing no other wolf tracks, she roams alone, unsuccessfully hunting elk. She howls, but as she has no pack, no one answers. As the seasons change, she matures, and her hunting skills improve. She finds a mate and gives birth to a litter of four pups. After they emerge from the den and eat the meat brought by the male, the wolves howl together as a family pack. Based on actual wolves released in Yellowstone in 1995, the story personalizes the project, which restored the wolf population in the region. Markle's matter-of-fact tone creates empathy without anthropomorphism, while the use of present tense brings a sense of immediacy to the narrative. Using pencil, pen, and watercolor, Marks portrays the wolves within varied and beautiful landscapes. Pair this with Jean Craighead George's The Wolves Are Back (2008), which offers information on the new wolves of Yellowstone.

NSTA Recommends

Sandra Markle is one of the leaders in the nonfiction picture book field with over seventy publications to her credit; elementary teachers, librarians, and curriculum specialists will have many of her books on their shelves. Her newest book, Family Pack, is the true story of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

The story focuses on two real-life wolves in the Leopold pack, Female 7 and Male 2 (the numbers scientists use in the tagging process); they were among fourteen wolves in 1995 in the 2.2 million acre national park. In the book, Markle's language flows effortlessly, like the lines "now she roams, like a castaway, in a land that is pure unknown", with Alan Marks' stunning illustrations from nature.

There is a small section at the end of the book titled "Gray Wolves Are Amazing!" which gives quick facts about gray wolves.Teachers and librarians will not want to skip these interesting tidbits of information, kids will devour them. I highly recommend this book for use in second grade classrooms and on up through middle school. Elementary teachers could link the book to numerous standards such as the food chain, conservation, and/or endangered species. Middle school teachers could use the book to spark a debate on the elimination of wolves from Yellowstone National Park in the 1940's. I highly recommend the beautifully written and illustrated nonfiction book for any library!

School Library Journal

Markle imagines the life of a young wolf from Canada after she is relocated to Yellowstone as part of the effort to reintroduce species to the area. The animal survives a year on her own, honing her hunting skills while she matures. After she finds a mate, the two hunt together until she settles into a den to give birth. The two adult wolves and four cubs become one of the successful family packs that have repopulated the park. Marks's watercolor illustrations capture the intelligence and strength of the predators.

Science Books & Films

Family Pack tells the story (in the present tense) of a young female wolf that has been translocated to Yellowstone National Park to reestablish a wolf pack at the park after all of the wolves that were there had been exterminated. Author Sandra Markle poetically portrays the story of this female wolf while remaining true to the real story of "Female 7," as she was known to the biologists who brought her to Yellowstone. Markle does a good job introducing young readers to the ecology of wolves, from describing their feet, which allow them to move across snow, to learning how to hunt prey. She does not need to employ cheap tricks or gore to connect with her readers: Her ecologically accurate descriptions are engaging without being dry. Markle’s words are aptly accompanied by Marks’s watercolors, which emulate the soft snow, landscape, and animals’ coats. The wolves nearly dance off the page as they chase elk, pounce on mice, and meet each other for the first time. His animals are not cartoonlike, but are as mature and inviting as Markle’s text. Family Pack is appropriate for the school or home library and will be read and reread by budding wildlife biologists.

Library Media Connection

This book is a fictional account of a female wolf born in Canada and brought to Yellowstone. The story tells how she escaped and roamed the wilderness alone. In the spring she mates and gives birth to pups. Markle's story provides an example of what may have happened as wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone. Alan Marks' watercolors evoke the passing of the seasons as the family pack is ready to take on the challenges of the wilderness.


Again, Markle and Marks team up on a book about wolves. This time they show how a lone female learns to live on her own after relocation from Canada to Yellowstone and how she finds a mate to form a new pack. The team creates the setting well with almost poetic text and watercolor, pen, and pencil illustrations. In an author’s note, Markle reveals that these two wolves are real. They started the first naturally formed pack. Included are three books and two websites on the subject. Four cool facts about wolves—bite, speed, feet, and howl—concludes the book.


Download the Cover


ISBN: 978-1-58089-217-9

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-270-0
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 4-8
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11

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