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Children's Nonfiction Wolves & Coyotes

Bringing Back the Wolves

How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem

by (author) Jude Isabella

illustrated by Kim Smith

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Wolves & Coyotes, Environmental Science & Ecosystems, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
  • Reading age: 8 to 12


An unintended experiment in Yellowstone National Park, in which an ecosystem is devastated and then remarkably rehabilitated, provides crucial lessons about nature's intricate balancing act.

In the 1800s, hunters were paid by the American government to eliminate threats to livestock on cattle ranches near Yellowstone National Park. They did such a good job that, by 1926, no gray wolf packs were left in the park. Over the following decades, virtually every other part of the park's ecosystem was affected by the loss of the wolves --- from the animals who were their prey, to the plants that were the food for that prey, to the streams that were sheltered by those plants --- and the landscape was in distress. So, starting in 1995, in an attempt to reverse course, the government reintroduced gray wolves to the park. Over time, animal populations stabilized, waterways were restored and a healthy ecosystem was recreated across the land. It's a striking transformation, and a fascinating tale of life's complicated interdependencies.

Jude Isabella's thoroughly researched, expert-reviewed text and Kim Smith's beautiful nature art bring science to life in this captivating story of renewal. Readers will recognize just how complex an ecosystem is and learn about the surprising interconnectedness of its members. Biodiversity, ecosystems, the food chain, habitats, needs of living things and the importance of human stewardship of the environment are all covered through this real-life example, offering direct links to earth and life science curriculums. Food web infographics help reinforce the information. A glossary and index add to the book's usefulness.

About the authors

Jude Isabella has been a journalist for over 20 years, focusing on science, health and the environment. She writes for a diverse audience, from grownups interested in archaeology to young readers interested in space. Jude has written five science books for kids, including Fantastic Feats and Failure, which won the prestigious American Institute of Physics Award. She spent three years researching Salmon and marine biodiversity on Canada's west coast for her master of arts degree in anthropology and writing, resulting in this book. After a dozen or so field trips, she can remove otoliths from juvenile salmon and clean her face in the bush without soap. One of her goals as a science writer is to educate readers that to be human does not mean being hardwired to destroy the environment. There is hope! Jude lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Jude Isabella's profile page

Kim Smith lives in Calgary, Alberta. This is her first children's book. When not illustrating for children, Kim illustrates comics. Her illustrations have been featured in advertising as well as in two comic collections, The Anthology Project and The Anthology Project, Volume Two. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2008 with a Bachelor of Design specializing in character design.

Kim Smith's profile page


  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award, BC Young Reader's Choice
  • Winner, Best Children's Books List, Bank Street College
  • Winner, Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens List, Capitol Choices
  • Winner, Skipping Stones Honor List, Skipping Stones Magazine
  • Short-listed, Information Book Award, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable
  • Short-listed, 2021 Magnolia Book Awards, Mississippi Children's Museum
  • Winner, Eureka! Nonfiction Children's Book Awards, California Reading Association
  • Winner, Best Middle Grade Books of 2020, Kirkus Reviews
  • Winner, Books of the Year: Books for Young People, Quill & Quire
  • Winner, Best Kids Books of the Year, New York Public Library

Editorial Reviews

Tailor-made for classroom units on biodiversity, and fun to explore as well.


Isabella and Smith offer young readers an opportunity to watch the effect on the environment of reintroducing the wolves and the vital and complex interconnections that make up ecosystems.

The Globe and Mail

Clear, comprehensive, and thoroughly accessible.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This fascinating story is sure to captivate young conservationists.

School Library Journal

... interesting and informative.

CM Magazine

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