No-one really knows how the small child ended up in the woods but that didn’t matter as the forest creatures immediately took to her as if she were one of their own. Educated and raised by the animals of the forest, the girl learnt to speak, to eat, to play. She was at one with her wild environment. But one day, some strange animals arrived in the forest and she finds herself taken away to a concrete building where these animals live. But the new place is nothing like what she is used to. There is no green, no animals, no rivers, there is no wild. And the strange animals do everything differently - they talk different, they eat different, they play different. The strange animals are determined to tame the wild child but sometimes some things are born to be wild and free…
I’m not sure if a picture book has ever had a more inviting cover. Those big brown eyes that stare out at the reader, inviting you in. Wild is a story of nature versus nurture. Can a child raised in the wild and by nature be nurtured into somebody who conforms to the norms of society? The answer in ‘Wild’ is a resounding no. Despite the best attempts of the elderly human couple that take the girl home, some things are just born to be wild. The ending is joyous, as a child who is confused and frustrated with her new environment leaves and returns to her true home, the wild. She is even accompanied by the strange animal’s pets - a cat and a dog.
It is impossible not to draw parallels with The Jungle Book - young child raised by animals - but at the same time Emily Hughes’ ‘Wild’ feels original and unique. The illustrations are rich, lush and ’wild’ and the glorious forest scenes are reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. The forest scenes with the animals and nature are full of happiness, joy and with a child completely at home with her surroundings. Whereas the pages set at the strange animal’s home depict unhappiness, order and a wild child who just doesn’t fit in.
Some things are just born to be wild and Emily Hughes’ debut book is a wonderful walk on the wild side that is a celebration of nature and the outdoors.
Recommended for 4+.