Review: Wild by Emily Hughes


Wild by Emily Hughes

When the baby girl was found in the woods by the animals, the entire woods took her in.  Bird taught her to talk.  Bear taught her to fish.  Fox taught her how to play.  Everything was good, until she met some people in the woods.  They took her home with them.  A famous psychiatrist took her in and tried to make her civilized.  They combed her hair, tried to teach her to speak, frowned at her table manners and didn’t appreciate the way she played.  Everything they did was wrong.  The girl was not happy at all.  But then one day, she found her wild once more. 

Told only in brief sentences, Hughes lets her art tell much of the story here.  And what a glorious story it is.  It’s the story of a child perfectly at home in the wild and with the animals.  She doesn’t long for society or civilization in any way.  She’s the opposite of many classic book characters like Curious George.  She rejects the rules and substitutes her own.

The art has a wonderful wild quality as well.  It is lush and filled with details.  The woods have a flowing green that is mesmerizing.  Once the humans enter the story, things become more angular and rigid.  The return to the woods is beautiful and completely satisfying. 

Hughes has tapped into what every child dreams of, living in the woods with the animals and thriving.  Everyone who reads this will want to be wild themselves.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Who Goes There? by Karma Wilson

who goes there

Who Goes There? by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Anna Currey

On this bitter cold day in Wisconsin, it’s a treat to review a book that has a little mouse preparing for the winter cold.  Lewis lived alone in the base of a tall tree.  He prepared for winter by stuffing his home with leaves, twigs and grass.  Once he was cozy inside though he realized that something was missing.  Then he heard a noise that wasn’t the wind.  It was a scratching and tapping noise.  Lewis shouted “Who goes there!” but no one answered.  Could it be a cat?  An owl?  A bear?  As the noise repeated, Lewis continued to yell.  Eventually, he was out in the wind and night investigating the sounds.  Lewis will discover not only what is making the sound but exactly what he is missing too.

Wilson, author of the very popular Bear Snores On series, has another winning animal character.  Lewis is a gutsy little mouse who shouts at strange noises and then investigates them despite his fears.  Wilson uses lots of repetition here, making it perfect for sharing aloud.  The noises always have the same pattern of sounds and Lewis always shouts back the same reply.  This helps build tension in the story as well, just enough for little ones to be fully engrossed in the tale.

Currey’s illustrations have a great play of contrasts between the warm light of Lewis’ hole filled with tiny furniture and nuts and the wild blue of the outside at night.  Both are equally lovely, the browns and golds of Lewis’ home shine while the deep blues of the outside glimmer with moonlight. 

A perfect bedtime read for a cold day, this book is also a great choice for autumn story times.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

2013 Best Children’s Fiction

Here are my picks for the best children’s fiction of the year.  Let me know what yours were with a comment!

bluffton counting by 7s doll bones

Bluffton by Matt Phelan

Strong characterization, a glimpse of summers gone by, and one amazing true story create a graphic novel that is pure radiance.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

This is a tragic story with an indomitable heroine that will leave you smiling through the tears.

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Friendship, a creepy doll, and adventures, what more could one want in a book!

flora and ulysses fortunately the milk garden of my imaan

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell

A great read-aloud, this unlikely superhero pair are sure to fly off the shelves.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young

Hilarious, wacky and wonderful, get this into the hands of elementary aged kids now.

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

Filled with giggles between girlfriends, this book reveals the warmth of family and faith in a completely approachable and joyful way.

great trouble hokey pokey hold fast

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

This is a dark and thrilling novel that will not let you escape until the epidemic is over and the mystery solved.

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Gloriously fun to read, this book was impossible for me not to love.  Spinelli writes with a lovely playfulness and yet beneath it all is truth.  A truly outstanding read for middle graders.

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

Another fine offering from Balliett, get this one into the hands of her fans.  It will also be great choice for reading aloud in classrooms with its wordplay and strong African-American characters and family.

jinx life of ty listening for lucca

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Blackwood has written an impressive fantasy novel for middle grade readers that is both dazzling and dangerous.

The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems by Lauren Myracle, illustrated by Jed Henry

Perfect for both reading aloud and for a child reading on their own, this book will be enjoyed by fans of the Stink series as well as those who like Clementine.

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

This lovely book transcends genres with its mix of mystery, historical fiction, and fantasy.  It’s a winning combination.

one came home real boy rooftoppers

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Beautiful with a strong heroine, this book is a dazzling read for tweens.

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Ursu weaves such beauty into her books.  She lingers over small things, taking the time to build a world in which her characters live.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Profoundly original and filled with shining prose, this novel is a wondrous read.

salt seraphinas promise thing about luck

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost

An exquisite verse novel that fills history with real people and war with real loss.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

This is a powerful look at the Haitian earthquake through the eyes of one extraordinary young woman.

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

A beautiful and intense look at a Japanese-American family struggling with an interesting lifestyle and just surviving a year of bad luck.

water castle year of billy miller

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Complex and multilayered, this middle grade book will be embraced by historical fiction, science and fantasy fans.

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

A tip top chapter book, this one is destined to be a classic.  I’d think that sharing it would be a great way to start any 2nd grade school year.