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Farley Mowat: Canada's Nature Writer

by Miriam Downey 9. May 2014 12:04

Farley Mowat, who died this week at age 92, was a prolific Canadian nature writer. His most famous book was Never Cry Wolf which was made into a Disney movie. Mowat is an often overlooked writer of the 20th century, but an author any middle grade and teenaged reader should read--especially if he/she is interested in nature.

I first got acquainted with Mowat with his hilarious childhood memoir about his dog, Mutt. The book is called The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and it tells the story of the world's greatest dog. Mowat grew up in the 1930s on the Saskatchewan prairie. Each story about Mutt is laugh-out-loud funny. My mother read it to us on a family trip when I was a teenager, and my dad had to pull over to the side of the road because he was laughing so hard.

Another very funny memoir is Owls in the Family. It is a story about three boys who rescue a couple of owls and learn about friendship, responsibility, and respect for nature. This book is a ton of fun. Mowat also wrote The Boat Who Wouldn't Float, which is his tale of taking an old boat from Newfoundland to Lake Ontario. A delightful book for readers of all ages.              


A more serious nature book is Never Cry Wolf. Although it is not a scientific study of wolves, it is compelling because Mowat emphasizes how misunderstood they are. He advocates that they have a right to exist, and that they have an essential place in the wilderness food chain.The movie based on this book is terrific and well worth finding.

The final book I would recommend that would be of particular interest to older children is A Whale for the Killing. Mowat expresses his outrage at the injustice done by killing a beached fin whale on the Newfoundland coast.

Many have called Farley Mowat a "hero of Canadian literature," and he was a fierce advocate for wildlife, the environment, and the aboriginal peoples of Northern Canada and Alaska. Your nature-loving children will love his books.

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Blog | English | Libraries, Library Books

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