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Into the Wild (novel) facts for kids

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Into the Wild
First edition cover
Author Erin Hunter
Cover artist Wayne McLoughlin
Country United States
Series Warriors
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Avon, HarperCollins
Publication date
21 January 2003
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 272 (depending on edition)
ISBN 978-0-06-000002-8
LC Class PZ7.H916625 In 2003
Followed by Fire and Ice 

Into the Wild is a fantasy novel written by Erin Hunter. The novel was published by HarperCollins in Canada and the United States in January 2003, and in the United Kingdom in February 2003. It is the first novel in the Warriors series. The book has been published in paperback, and e-book formats in twenty different languages. The story is about a young domestic cat named Rusty who leaves his human owners to join a group of forest-dwelling feral cats called ThunderClan, adopting a new name: Firepaw. He is trained to defend and hunt for the Clan, becomes embroiled in a murder and betrayal within the Clan, and, at the end of the book, receives his warrior name, Fireheart, after a battle with another Clan. He must face the evil Tigerclaw. The novel is written from the perspective of Fireheart (previously known as Rusty for a short time, then, for most of the book, Firepaw).

The series began in 2003 when HarperCollins requested Holmes to write a book on feral cats. After creating one storyline Holmes brought in Kate Cary to finish writing the book as Holmes went behind the scenes to edit and supervise the details. Holmes has compared the style of the book to a different language as the books are written by three separate authors. She feels that Erin Hunter must have a consistent voice the entire series. The story uses a lexicon with words such as "twoleg" substituted for "human" or "new-leaf" for "spring". The style has been compared to the Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien and Brian Jacques. Themes include family, loyalty, death, courage, and survival. Into the Wild was critically well received. Booklist believed the book would appeal to followers of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Among other awards, it claimed third place in the 2006 Young Reader's Choice Award.


With four authors at the time Holmes decided to have a pseudonym since having four authors would place the books at different places at libraries, confusing and possibly scaring off potential readers. The last name Hunter was chosen since it put the books next to the similar Redwall series.


The book has a lexicon with certain different names for foreign objects. A Children's Literature review noted the words "kittypet" and "twoleg" which mean housecat and humans respectively. In the book, instead, of using "said", Cary uses the word "mewed". This was criticized with the reviewer writing "that 'he mewed', 'she purred', and 'the warrior mewed', which pass for cat talk, grows old fast". In response to a question at the Q&A section of the forum Holmes explained that the names come "in two parts, either or both of which can reflect something about the cat's appearance, personality, or habits". However, they must also be part of the world they know; Holmes originally gave Tigerclaw the name Hammerclaw until one of the editors pointed out the cats wouldn't know what a hammer is. For the names, Kate Cary says that she takes in inspiration for the names from "sight, sounds and scents the cats would experience". At the same time, more names become available as the cat's world becomes more diverse.


Harper Collins originally requested that Holmes write a "fantasy story on feral cats". Though troubled on what to write about at first, Holmes realized she could add human themes and issues into the book such as "war, politics, revenge, doomed love, religious conflict". An interviewer has described the plot as "Shakespearian: a mad leader, intra-clan betrayal, war, star-crossed lovers, death". Reviews have also called the story an "animal adventure".

The novel was picked to be part of the young adult fantasy genre due to its increasing popularity. Cherith Baldry feel that the growth of genre is due to the fact that "fantasy is something very deeply rooted in the human mind, not just for children". Fantasy stories are able to deal with human emotions helping readers to deal with them in the real world. Another Erin Hunter, Kate Cary felt that fantasy books such as Harry Potter "is a sign of a deepening need for fantasy to brighten our lives". She describes how as a child she was far less restricted than today's children whose days are structured and scheduled. Cary feels that fantasy stories help kids "escape into the world of the imagination, because it's the only place they can be really free and un-judged".

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