Wild by Emily Hughes
“You cannot tame something so happily wild.”
In this beautiful picture book by Hawaiian artist Emily Hughes, we meet a little girl who has known nothing but nature from birth—she was taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears, and to play by foxes. She is unashamedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild. That is, until she is snared by some very strange animals that look oddly like her, but they don’t talk right, eat right, or play correctly. She’s puzzled by their behavior and their insistence on living in these strange concrete structures: there’s no green here, no animals, no trees, no rivers. Now she lives in the comfort of civilization. But will civilization get comfortable with her?
In her debut picture book, Hughes brings an uncanny humor to her painterly illustrations. Her work is awash with color, atmosphere, and a stunning visual splendor that will enchant children while indulging their wilder tendencies. Wild is a twenty-first-century answer to Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic—it has the same inventiveness, groundbreaking art, and unmissable quirkiness.
Let’s start the year easing into it with a picture book!
The illustrations of Wild are gorgeous. Just look at those huge eyes and the untamed hair with flowers tangled in it and bits of branches and leaves. (I’d have a major heart attack if my hair was as tangled and “wild” as that, it’d be so difficult to untangle and to sort out…) That caught my eye and was part of what made me choose this book.
The little girl makes me think of nature and defnitely of wilderness, but not a bad kind, but a natural, growing, budding kind. I guess the best way to describe it is “green”.
The animals that find her and take her in are endearing. They include her into their world and teach her how to live (the illustrations are funny and full of vibrancy and wildness). And our little girl is happy, she is wild, she just is.
But then, some strange “animals” (humans) find her and take her in. They try to teach her all the things she already knows, how to eat, how to talk, how to play, but it isn’t right and she doesn’t like it, nor does she understand it (one of the pages reminded me of a scene in My Fair Lady).
It was a joy to leaf through this book, look at the illustraions and feel wild alongside the little girl.
Go read! Just go read, whatever tickles your fancy. Wild is a great choice and it is a small book, but there are other books to read and even just a few paragraphs may be good for you, who knows?