A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Sara Palacios (9781681190396)
Poppy is a little girl who loves bugs and spending time alone outside. Around other people, she tends to fade into the background, disappearing into the potted plants and the wallpaper. At her Grandma Phyllis’ 100th birthday party, Poppy hides in the bushes. She enjoys watching the party from there, seeing the different people as colorful leaves. When a dragonfly enters the party, it lands on the birthday cake, and Poppy claps her hands in joy. One of her relatives leans in and calls her a wallflower. Poppy wilts, but the dragonfly darts over to land on her hand. Soon everyone is gathered around and Grandma Phyllis declares her a “wild flower” rather than a wallflower.
Told with a great empathy towards Poppy and her need for quiet contemplation and connection with bugs and nature, this picture book celebrates solitude and being understood. All shy folks will recognize the rather pushy nature of relatives who suddenly notice a quiet child and call them out. The beauty here is that Poppy finds her own way forward with the help of an insect friend.
The illustrations are done in cut paper, paints and digitally, combining layers together. This has created organic-feeling images that have a wonderful play of texture and pattern. The finer details of the illustrations contribute to the layered effect.
A quiet picture book just right for reading outside on a blanket. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.