Allison's Book Bag

A Problem-Solving Team

Posted on: May 11, 2015

I grew up reading Owl Kids Books and so jumped at the chance to receive a title from them. The team of Elin Kelsey and Soyen Kim created Wild Ideas, a picture book that looks at the varied and creative ways that animals (like humans) solve problems. Tomorrow I’ll review their book. Save the date: May 12!


ElinKelseyElin Kelsey is a writer and internationally respected scientist. A frequent contributor to Owl magazine, Elin has managed the educational program for both the Vancouver Aquarium and Canadian Museum of Nature. She has also led eco-tours throughout India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Arctic. When she’s not leading international eco-tours, Kelsey resides in California and works as a consultant on educational and community programs focusing on nature.

The idea for Wild Ideas came to Kelsey by watching how animals survive and thrive. She marvels at the capability of animals to solve problems with just their bodies and with each other, without stores or electronics. She discovered that many of the strategies they use, people also use, such as: building safe places to rest, cooperation, teamwork, relying on friends, and. She’s interested in the interconnections between the lives of people and of the more than five million species that live on the earth.

Kelsey feels Wild Ideas is relevant now because we’re not the only species responding to crisis. She feels we need to recognize and support other species who are surviving, creating, and thriving too. She is concerned about how everyone is inundated with doom and gloom messages about the state of the planet, when we’re not the only ones who are trying to make things better. Realizing that we are part of a living, changing, and learning planet, to her, is a hopeful idea.

Wild Ideas is based on first-person interviews with scientists. Kelsey also reads a lot of journals and follows environmental news online. Moreover, she travels to many places in the world, where she can see animals. What is clear to her is that lots of individual animals are unique and different from other members of their families or populations and they create specific ways of doing things. She hopes that readers will feel the thrill of excitement that comes from being surprised, the thrill that she felt from her research.


SoyeonKimBorn in South Korea, Soyeon Kim is Toronto-based visual artist. After graduating York University with BFA in Visual Arts and Education, Soyeon is working to bring two-dimensional drawing into three-dimensional space by using various media. She enjoys providing a creative learning experience through her illustrations.

The most fun aspect for Kim of Wild Ideas was knowing she could create three-dimensional worlds that children could imagine themselves part of. Anyone who reads and explores Wild Ideas will relate to the worlds she illustrates: cities, oceans, forests, and even outer space.

It was tricky for Kim to create environments for Wild Ideas that were both realistic and relatable, while at the same time having a bit of whimsy to them. She views creating art as a form of creative problem solving, in that she often wonders how to craft a scene. Kim believes it’s important for young people to dream up innovative solutions and think outside the box. This kind of thinking can help and inspire others.


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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