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Teaching Guide

Teaching Julie of the Wolves

Talk about scrappy.

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You're probably relieved to find a book featuring wolves where they don't also turn into people…and we're right there with you. (We love you, Jacob!)

In this guide you will find

  • an activity analyzing Julie's two identities (we promise she's not a werewolf). 
  • discussion questions on fear, survival, and family.
  • resources for related books of survival, like The Call of the Wild and Island of the Blue Dolphins.

If Julie is giving you a headache, consider this teaching guide a little hair of the dog. Well, hair of the wolf.

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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: Julie seems to belong with the wolves out in the tundra, yet at the end of the story, she points her boots toward town and Kapugen, even after she has said he is dead to her. So naturally, we have mixed emotions about the ending. Is it just us, or does this seem sort of like a defeat for our beloved Miyax? Doesn't it seem like sort of a downer? Luckily, there are two more books about Julie to help continue her story, Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack, but let's stick to this novel for now. Anyone else secretly wishing to change the ending?

So, why not? Let's allow students to write their own endings to the novel. Then we'll analyze how a new ending changes the message of the story and consider why the author might have chosen to end Julie's story by sending her back to Kapugen. What are we supposed to learn from this? This activity can be completed in two or three class periods including discussion and sharing, or it could be assigned for homework if you are short on time. That never happens to English teachers, right?

Materials Needed:

  • Julie of the Wolves text

Step 1: Let's take a Siskel-and-Ebert-style poll. How do your students feel about the ending of the book? Two thumbs up? Thumbs down? Thumbs in-between? (That's totally a thing, right?) Get students' overall impression, and then dig for a few more details:

  • Did you like the way the story ended? Why or why not?
  • Did the story end the way you expected it to? What did you think would happen?
  • What if we could change the ending of the story? How would you want it to end?
  • What would you change about the events in the story? Why?

Step 2: If your students are like us, there's a few things they'd like to change about the end of Julie's story. In fact, they'd probably like to go back and undo Amaroq's death and Tornait's death, and allow Julie to live happily ever after with her whole wolf family. We don't blame them, and we are going to give students a chance to have the ending their way, but we also want them to recognize that it isn't realistic to undo every bad thing that happens to Julie. Encourage students to rewrite the end of the story with this in mind. Julie's tale won't be believable if she never has to overcome any grief or hardships. Ask students to select which elements of the story they would keep and which they would revise for a more satisfying ending.

Students' rewritten endings should be about 2-3 pages long. If their changed ending includes changing a few earlier events in the story, they'll need to explain those changes as well in a brief opening paragraph. Students should write this assignment as though they are the author writing the actual final pages of the book for readers. In other words, they should write creatively, using figurative language and imitating the author's tone and literary devices as much as possible. This is not simply a summary of what ought to happen; it is a true rewrite of the final pages of the novel. You may want to model this for students or brainstorm some ideas as a class before they get started. Students can start the assignment in class, but they may need to finish and polish their writing for homework.

Step 3: What's the use of pouring all that lovely creativity into these endings if no one will read them? Shmoop thinks that's a tragedy, so set aside some time for students to share their endings with the class. You can do a whole-class read-around or save time by having students share in smaller groups. After all that warm-and-fuzzy sharing, wrap up with some final reflections on the text. After all, the whole point here is to help students rethink the real ending and better understand the author's choices.

  • How do some of these changed endings affect the text as a whole? What else is (perhaps inadvertently) changed by revising the ending? (Think themes and character development here. How does the ending relate to some of the novel's central themes? What do we lose by changing the end?)
  • How does the changed ending affect how we see Julie? Is the original ending necessary to complete her character arc?
  • What does the original ending leave us with concerning the battle between nature and civilization? How does this message relate to us and to our world? Do we lose this message by changing the ending?
  • Why do you think the author chose this ending?
  • Surprise! Julie has a sequel—two in fact (Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack). Does knowing that change your feelings about the ending? What do you think might happen to Julie in the next two books? How does this ending set up the rest of her story?

Instructions for Your Students

We don't know about you, but we had really mixed emotions about the ending of Julie of the Wolves. Julie seems to belong with the wolves out in the tundra, yet at the end of the story, she points her boots toward town and Kapugen, even after she has said he is dead to her. Is it just us, or does this seem sort of like a defeat for our beloved Miyax? Doesn't it seem like sort of a downer? Anyone else secretly wishing to change the ending?

So, why not? In this activity, you'll have the opportunity to write your own ending to the novel. Then we'll analyze how a new ending changes the message of the story and consider why the author might have chosen to end Julie's story by sending her back to Kapugen. What are we supposed to learn from this?

Step 1: Let's take a Siskel-and-Ebert-style poll. How do you feel about the ending of the book? Two thumbs up? Thumbs down? Thumbs in-between? (That's totally a thing, right?) Were you crying? Booing and hissing? Throwing a temper tantrum? (Not that we've ever done that over the way a book ended…) Currently the end leaves us kind of hanging, and we don't know exactly what is going to happen to Julie. She left her boots pointed in the direction of her father, but her heart is with the wolves.

  • Did you like the way the story ended? Why or why not?
  • Did the story end the way you expected it to? What did you think would happen?
  • What do you think the future holds for Julie? What will her life be like with Kapugen?
  • What if we could change the ending of the story? How would you want it to end?
  • What would you change about the events in the story? Why?

Step 2: If you're like us, there are a few things you'd like to change about the end of Julie's story. In fact, you'd probably like to go back and undo Amaroq's death and Tornait's death, and allow Julie to live happily ever after with her whole wolf family. We don't blame you, and we are going to give you a chance to have the ending your way, but we also want you to recognize that it isn't realistic to undo every bad thing that happens to Julie. Keep this in mind as you rewrite your endings. Julie's tale won't be believable if she never has to overcome any grief or hardships. You'll need to select which elements of the story you would keep and which you would revise for a more satisfying ending.

Your rewritten endings should be about 2-3 pages long. If your changed ending includes changing a few earlier events in the story, you'll need to explain those changes as well in a brief opening paragraph. For example, if you decide that Kapugen really is dead, you'll need to let us know before we read your ending. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should write this assignment as though you are the author writing the actual final pages of the book for readers. In other words, you should write creatively, using figurative language and imitating the author's tone and literary devices as much as possible. This is not simply a summary of what ought to happen; it is a true rewrite of the final pages of the novel.

Step 3: What's the use of pouring all that lovely creativity into these endings if no one will read them? We think that's a tragedy, so you'll share your finished endings with the class in a read-around. After all that warm-and-fuzzy sharing, we'll wrap up with some final reflections on the text. After all, the whole point here is to help you rethink the real ending and better understand the author's choices.

  • How do some of these changed endings affect the text as a whole? What else is (perhaps inadvertently) changed by revising the ending? (Think themes and character development here. How does the ending relate to some of the novel's central themes? What do we lose by changing the end?)
  • How does the changed ending affect how we see Julie? Is the original ending necessary to complete her character arc?
  • What does the original ending leave us with concerning the battle between nature and civilization? How does this message relate to us and to our world? Do we lose this message by changing the ending?
  • Why do you think the author chose this ending?
  • Surprise! Julie has a sequel—two in fact (Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack). Does knowing that change your feelings about the ending? What do you think might happen to Julie in the next two books? How does this ending set up the rest of her story?

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Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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