Allison's Book Bag

Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey

Posted on: May 12, 2015

Ever wonder how squirrels learned to cross roads? Or ever wonder what we as people can learn from squirrels? Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey poses these questions and others, as part of exploring how can people and animals alike both face and solve problems. Accompanying the lyrical text are breathtaking dioramas by illustrator Soyeon Kim.

What I most like about Wild Ideas is how the text is grounded in science. The more I read of this picture book from Owl Books, the more astounding each statement became to me. For example, I didn’t know that when orangutans feel puzzled, they stop, think, and weave safe places to rest. Even more incredible is the fact that when dung beetles are seeking direction, they apparently look to the heavens and steer by the Milky Way. Author Elin Kelsey is an environmental consultant whose research for Wild Ideas came straight from those who study animals, as well as scientific journals, and she presents a lot of fascinating info in a fun format.

Another feature I like about Wild Ideas is the inquiry-based approach. Kelsey asks questions, along with providing facts. Her text encourages one not to simply absorb information, but to wonder how animals seek solutions and find solutions. Did you know that just like us, when animals try to make something happen, they get frustrated and try again and find tools? Without pushing, Wild Ideas inspires one to rethink problems, because Kelsey focuses on the remarkable adaptations and achievements of animals. Through them, Kelsey gentles advises her young readers to not give up in the face of problems, but instead to view problems as a way to unlock our imagination and discover a world of wild ideas.


The artwork also captivates me. No wonder, when you realize that the road for the squirrel scene is made of clay. Wire holds up the silhouettes of jungle plants in the gibbon scene. Silver sparkles are mixed with Mod Podge (glue) to illustrate the Milky Way. The list of unusual or unexpected materials goes on, including that of beads being used in several scenes, one being the watery atmosphere for the humpback whales. The result is incredibly detailed art. All of the scenes have depth and movement.

Wild Ideas is a beautiful picture book that will encourage young readers to explore and connect with the natural world, wherever their interests normally lay. Older readers might find the content limited, but at the same time find themselves wanting to know more about the animals described. Both are reasons to check out this new title from Owl Books.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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