Absolutely Mesmerizing: Wild by Emily Hughes

Wild by Emily Hughes

You can also see if your local library has a copy at Worldcat.com

Ages 3 – 99+.  Flying Eye Books. Sept. 2013. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-1909263086.  Fiction.

At a Glance:

This is a gorgeously illustrated and elegantly narrated picture book about a wild little girl who is raised by animals and then brought back to civilization. It’s an engaging picture book for adults to read with children.  Wild reminds me what childhood can feel like for a child.

Several reviews I read of Wild comment that the illustrations are rich and lush.  I’ll join the chorus — the illustrations are very rich, lush, and completely mesmerizing.  The story is refreshingly different.  I highly recommend Wild.  

Why You Should Read this Book:

  • The illustrations are absolutely amazing and at times very funny.
  • It may make you more aware of your facial expressions when talking with children (or anyone).  It made me more aware of my facial expressions and how I must look to my son when I am angry or frustrated.  The images are very striking and I don’t think I’ll forget the images of the angry adults trying to teach the wild girl.  This book will stick with you long after you’ve read it.
  • This book can lead to a lot of very interesting conversations.  There are a lot of layers to this book:  from why we wear clothes to what behavior is okay to what are reasonable societal expectations of children.
  • It may make you more grateful for your child’s behavior (even on their worst day).  I know it did for me.
  • There aren’t a lot of words in this book.  The pictures tell the majority of the story.  There are also a lot of repeating phrases (“taught her how to speak/eat/play”, “they ate/spoke/played wrong”).  This is a great amount of text for beginning readers.
  • It may inspire you to take your children out into nature.  My son asked if we could go out into the woods again soon.

Summary of the Story (with Spoilers):

A little girl is raised in the woods by bears, birds, and foxes.  She is very happy and loves her life.  However, one day she is caught in a hunter’s trap and the hunters feel obligated to bring her into society.  A psychiatrist and an incredibly angry-looking woman attempt to civilize her by teaching her how to speak, eat, and play.  This does not go over well with the little girl and she destroys everything.  She finally declares that she has had enough and along with the psychiatrist’s cat and dog returns to the wild where everyone is now happy.

How My Three-Year-Old Boy Responded to this Book:

This book prompted a lot of questions from my son.  I don’t think we have ever been able to just sit down and read this book straight through (and we’ve been reading this book off and on for several months now).  Each page results in him holding the page down and asking an endless array of questions:  “Why is the baby naked?  Where are her parents?  Does she have a mama?  What’s the bird saying?  Is she really eating fish right out of the river?  Can I eat fish right out of the river?  Have you ever bitten a fox’s tale?  Why is there a skull?  Why did the hunters set a trap?  What happened if the trap had gotten her leg instead? Would she have bitten them?  What are they doing to the little girl?  Why are the adults so angry?  Why does the little girl have a sword in her dollhouse?  Can I have a sword?  Why did she wreck the living room?  What would you say if I wrecked the living room?  Why did the cat and the dog go with the girl?  Can we get a dog?”  Are just a few of the questions I remember.  I am impressed that this book spurred such an in-depth conversation about how we behave and why.

Interestingly enough, this is the first picture book where my son just wanted us to look through the pictures together (after reading it three times in a row).  So we spent almost 45 minutes talking about the pictures and it only has the standard 32 pages.  We will often do this with wordless picture books, but this is the first time for a picture book with words.

I asked my son what he likes about this book and he said, “I like that she gets to go free at the end.”  He also loves that the little girl completely wrecks the house.  He said, “Now they can build something better and they’ll get to use a dump truck!”   He does have a point.

Author/Illustrator Websites:

Other Reviews of this Book:


Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher.  No other compensation was received.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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