Lizzie lives at the zoo with her zookeeper dad, Mike. She’s on summer break, dutifully recording observations in her notebook about the outdoors, John Muir style, to fulfill a school requirement. She spends time daily watching the wolves, connecting in particular with the large, winsome pack leader Lobo.
Sounds pretty perfect, right? It’s not bad, but it’s far from perfect. Lizzie’s mother died when she was a baby and her best friend is away all summer, so she’s a bit lonely, until she meets a boy her age in the zoo. She encounters Tyler when she sees him steal a tray of food off a table in the snack bar. She comes to find out that he is homeless and hungry and has been living in the zoo.
The long, unstructured summer days help their friendship develop quickly. After only a few days, they are fast friends, united in their love and concern for the animals. When the wolves start getting sick, they come together to try to figure out why.
Tyler gets worried that he will be discovered and sent back to his foster family. This concern and an escalation of danger to the wolves, lead Tyler and Lizzie on a pilgrimage to John Muir’s old haunt, Yosemite, where they try to find his lost cabin.
I remember my daughter reading novels by Elise Broach years ago. My 12-year-old son and I read The Wolf Keepers together. There were times of suspense and sweetness and lots of quality moments for animal-lovers. It was never too intense or too sappy, but perfectly balanced with action and emotional connection.