Treasure Chest
Wild Man Island
Wild Man Island

National Geographic magazine, December, 2000, has an excellent article entitled “Hunt for the First Americans,” about new discoveries in American archeology regarding when and how the earliest people arrived in the Americas. It specifically mentions fossil finds on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska on which I based the fictionalized cave discoveries in my story. Follow this up with a discussion about the possibility of humans entering the Americas by boat, along the coastlines, prior to people migrating across the Land Bridge from Asia.

To find more detailed information about these archeological discoveries on Prince of Wales Island go to the website of Dr. Timothy H. Heaton. This site describes many caves, including On Your Knees Cave, where researchers found ancient bear bones dating back over 40,000 years, predating the last Glacial Age. They also discovered human remains close to 10,000 years old in this cave, the oldest ever found in Alaska or Canada. What does all this mean?


Bullet Point of view activity: At the moment in the story when Andy first sees the Wild Man, what does he think? What is the Wild Man thinking? Write a couple of paragraphs in the voice of each of these two characters as they wonder, "Who could this possibly be? What is he doing here? How did he get here? Is he dangerous to me? What should I do next?"
Bullet Have kids write and record an original news broadcast in which Andy and his mom are being interviewed on local TV or radio back home in Colorado, after this story has ended.
Bullet Create a story map, illustrating Andy's journey from the beginning to the end of the story. (You can refer to the map at the front of the book.) Highlight the most important locations, and write a brief description of the significance of each stage of Andy's adventure.
Bullet Sea kayaking: Inquire if anyone at your school (staff, parents, kids) might have experience sea kayaking. Perhaps they could come to class, show pictures, bring in equipment, etc.
Bullet Caves would be a fascinating subject to pursue, learning more about how they are formed, human and animal uses of caves, where major cave formations might be found in the U.S. Are there caves in your area?
Bullet Have a few students research Newfoundland dogs and the ways in which they are used to help rescue people at sea. They actually have webbing between their toes that enables them to swim better! You might point out that the dog on the Lewis and Clark expedition was a Newfoundland. I chose a Newfoundland for my story with this hardy dog from history in mind. There are a number of recent books out about him, including one by Roland Smith entitled Captain's Dog: My Journey With the Lewis and Clark Tribe.
Bullet Have kids write a letter from Andy to his Mom, from inside the cave on the Fortress of the Bears. He doesn't know if he'll ever see her again. What would he tell her about his experiences?
Bullet The Wild Man had consciously decided to become a hermit, living by prehistoric means. Ask students to write about (or discuss) whether they think they could ever be a hermit, would ever want to be one. What things would they miss the most about modern life?
Bullet Admiralty Island, the Fortress of the Bears, was designated by President Carter as a National Monument. What does this designation mean and why would it be important for a place like Admiralty Island? Are there any National Monuments near you?
Bullet Wildlife posters: Have students list all the wildlife mentioned in this story (humpback whales, sea otters, Steller's sea lions, orca whales, ravens, sea gulls, Sitka black-tailed deer, bald eagles, wolves, brown bears, which are coastal grizzlies, and more), then choose one to make a poster or collage about, featuring pictures and information about their selection.
Resources and Ideas for Teaching Will's Novels
Bearstone and
The Big Wander
Changes in Latitudes
Crossing the Wire
Downriver and
River Thunder
Far North
Ghost Canoe
Go Big or Go Home
Jackie's Wild Seattle
Jason's Gold and
Down the Yukon
Kokopelli's Flute
Leaving Protection
The Maze
Never Say Die
Take Me to the River
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