Written by Lauryn Smith
Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” is an old tale, a children’s story told from a sled dog’s point of view. And it is remarkable.
Writing from the perspective of Buck, an impressive St. Bernard and Shepard mix, London gets readers to feel all the feels as he tells about the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon. To create the piece of historical fiction, he uses the knowledge he gathered during his own year of prospecting gold in the harsh, frigid territory.
London focuses on the life of Buck, who is stolen from his lush California home in order to be sold to prospectors and taken to traverse the icy trails of Alaska and northern Canada. Buck’s journey, which involves beatings with a club, new masters, fights for food, brawls with other sled dogs and struggles for survival, incites in him the instincts of his wild ancestors and calls on his strength of spirit. The trek transforms him from loyal pet to uninhibited, and at times aggressive, animal.
This adventure story, artfully told with beautifully simple language, is definitely appealing to all ages. I can go on and on describing ways in which “The Call of the Wild” is great for young people to read, like its lessons regarding adaptability, inner strength, respect for authority and respect for nature. But this is no cookie cutter kiddy book.
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