Review of Wildful

Wildful Wildful
by Kengo Kurimoto; illus. by the author
Intermediate    Groundwood    216 pp.
2/24    9781773068626    $22.99
e-book ed.  9781773068633    $16.99

In this gorgeous graphic novel with minimal text, it’s an ordinary day as Poppy takes her dog, Pepper, out for a walk, all the while listening to music, scrolling mindlessly through her cell phone. Pepper, spotting a fox, breaks free and runs off into the woods, unplugging Poppy from the digital world and immersing her in the natural one. They encounter another child, who is fully engrossed in the woodland life around them. Poppy returns to the woods the next day, and the day after that. Nature walks become routine, and Poppy begins to notice the birds, plants, and sounds all around. She tells her mom—who, in grieving her own mother’s death, can’t seem to get off the couch—about her adventures when she gets home. The illustrations (“drawn in Biro, painted using inks and tweaked in Photoshop”) portray nature in moody sepia tones that challenge viewers to use their imaginations to fill the pages with color. In the first chapter, the text asks: “What does the wild speak?” This question is explored throughout the story, and Kurimoto’s detailed illustrations capture the essence of a walk through the woods; depictions of flora and fauna bring the sounds of the woods (including the wild “morning chorus”) and movements of new buds to life, along with the layered emotions that nature can evoke. Readers are reminded that in an increasingly connected digital world, reconnecting with the natural world just outside of our doors can provide joy and healing.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Gabi Kim Huesca

Gabi Kim Huesca is a librarian at the Fairfax County Public Library. She holds a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Maryland.

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