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Wild Things

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,334 ratings  ·  283 reviews
A headstrong girl. A stray cat. A wild boy. A man who plays with fire. Eleven-year-old Zoe trusts no one. Her father left before she was born. At the death of her irresponsible mother, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, former surgeon and famed metal sculptor Dr. Henry Royster. She's sure Henry will fail her as everyone else has. Reclusive since his wife's death, Henry takes...more
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Front Street, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press
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Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca SteadThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline KellyThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamilloWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Newbery 2010
21st out of 107 books — 517 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan BradleyView Points and Points of View by Clive BlakeCutting for Stone by Abraham VergheseLet the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Beautiful Books for Summer 2009
74th out of 84 books — 78 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,880)
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Lisa Vegan
Nov 02, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cat lovers; those who enjoy quirky coming of age stories about 11 year old girls
I am in love with this book.

It’s a phenomenal book, truly astounding. It’s one of those books that touched me so deeply, I felt like burying myself in it and not coming up for air.

I adore Mr. C’mere (also known as Mr. C) and Zoë and Henry, and so many more characters, including a couple that ended up surprising me, which was just lovely. The characters are incredibly memorable.

This is yet another book I’d give anything to have written; it’s another one of “my” books.

It reminds me a bit of The Gr...more
The Library Lady
It's far harder to explain why you LIKE a book than why you DON'T.
And I really like this one.

I could pick holes in some of the plot--some of it just doesn't work the way it should. I could find several of the plot twists a bit too much and a few of the characters less than believable.

And I could wonder if my 10 year old or my 14 year old would read this and delight in it the way their mother does. And I do.

But Zoe pulled me into her story from page 1. The sections from "Mr C'Mere" did too--as a...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Andrew S. Cohen for TeensReadToo.com

In WILD THINGS, protagonist Zoe no longer trusts anyone. Both her parents have now left her; her father left at an early age, and now her mother, an irresponsible mother and slob, has died. As a result of her traumatic, unbelievably self-sufficient childhood, Zoe trusts only herself.

To begin, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, Dr. Henry Royster, a surgeon. In his house she finds massive sharp metal sculptures dangling in a room, as she finds out her...more
Betsy
I like children's books that touch you without pandering at the same time. I like books that make you cry, but don't bend over backwards to make you think that they're sob-worthy. Basically, I like books that can get at the heart of a story the old-fashioned way. Through plain good writing. Now I don't know this Clay Carmichael character. According to her bio she's a resident of Carrboro, North Carolina. She's written three picture books in the past, making this book Wild Things her first novel....more
Louise
Apr 04, 2009 Louise added it
If you adored Wendy reading to the Lost Boys; if you were tickled by Opal's collection of misfit friends in Because of Winn-Dixie; if you remember how Spyri's Heidi won over her stern grandfather -- then you will welcome the loving vision behind this middle-grade gem. No character here is easily pegged or one-dimensional, least of all Mr. C'Mere, the cat who narrates inter-chapters and is featured in the author's beautiful pen and ink drawings throughout the book. WILD THINGS is about finding ho...more
Laura
4.5 stars. If I ever do write a book, it will have elements of this one. An appreciation for nature, a child in trouble that finds her way with the help of a caring adult, extended family with lots of quirks, parts of the book from the point of view of a cat, parts that make you laugh while others make you cry.....this one has it all. Not to be missed!
Hilary
After the death of her mother, Zoe is sent to live with her reclusive uncle, Henry, whom she has never met. Zoe has had a life of misfortune with a mentally unstable mother and her plethora of loser boyfriends. She doesn't expect Henry to stick around for long, after all no one else ever has, so why should he be any different? As the months go by, though, she begins to learn that Henry may be worth trusting, as well as some of the other people who live nearby.
Ugh. I really wanted to like this bo...more
Brenda
Zoe is a young girl who has had to grow up fast. Her mom was in and out of hospitals battling her own demons leaving Zoe to fend for herself for the most part. When Zoe's mother dies unexpectantly, she moves in with a half-uncle named Henry and quickly realizes that not only do they both have flaming red-hair but they also share a very quick temper. Uncle Henry use to be a heart surgeon but has decided instead to focus on his art by creating giant metal sculptures in the small-town where he grew...more
Donalyn
I know what you are thinking, "Do I really need to read another children's book about: orphans, wise cats, surviving in the wilderness, dysfunctional families, brooding artists, small town life, or death?"

If I promised that Clay Carmichael turned these tropes into something magical, would you travel that well-worn road again?

With pitch perfect prose, characters you fall in love with (even the bad ones), and a three hanky resolution, Wild Things is a book I will recommend to many readers (young a...more
Josiah
Though she has written a few shorter children's books in the past, Wild Things is the debut novel for Clay Carmichael, and it is an absolutely wonderful one. A reader can never be sure what to expect when encountering the work of an author previously unknown to him or her, but it took me only a few pages to recognize that the writing in this book has all the classic pace and depth of feeling that marks many of the best novels I've ever read, and often distinguishes a book as either being worthy...more
katsok
How to write a review after reading Elizabeth Bird's and just wanting to point and say, "Yes, that." I'll start with this. I read Wild Things because it is one of our state award nominees this year. I always read these nominees over the summer and just hadn't gotten around to this one yet. I knew what it was about but, like others have pointed out, thought "Do I really need to read about another orphan?" Predictable, right? Then I saw a student at the pool and I am usually impressed with his rea...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathon Arntson
Writing: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Reading experience: 5/5

Wild Things has an original approach to the classic bildungsroman novel. When reading this book, I actually felt like I was reading an actual memoir. Carmichael managed to grab my attention and my heart at the same time, not an easy thing to do. I loved the realness of her writing and the easily understood dialect, which is what ultimately breathed life into her characters, who in turn made the book. Oh, yes, and the...more
Tiffany
It took me forever to finish this book, not because it was boring or dense...in fact, it was so vibrant and lively and thrilling that really, I didn't want it to end.

Clay Carmichael did an amazing job with all of the characters in the book--from the minor characters (Padre, Harlan, the sheriff) to the major ones...she absolutely brought them all to life in an unforgettable way.

Wild Things is marketed as a children's book, but it's a really great read for adults as well. Zoe's voice is refreshing...more
Luann
Apr 16, 2012 Luann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Luann by: Lisa Vegan
This book wasn't long enough! I wanted to be in this world with these characters much longer than the length of the book allowed. I found myself thinking about the story and pulling the book out to read just a bit more even when I really didn't have time to read. I immediately fell in love with the characters and ended up loving them all even more by the end.

Why didn't this win a Newbery?? This should have won a Newbery! Or at least a Newbery Honor! More people need to know about and read this...more
The Reading Countess
Publisher's Summary: With her father long gone, spunky eleven-year-old Zoe is shuffled from relative to relative after her mother dies. The story opens as she arrives at her uncle Henry Royster's Farm outside Sugar Hill, a small Southern town.
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Zoe is a bright girl who has seen it all. Forced to care for herself due to her mother's struggles with mental illness, she is a tough nut to crack when she lands on her Uncle Henry's d...more
Alex
At least once or twice a year, I come across a book that is so engaging that I truly savor the reading experience, often reading slower than I normally do, to prolong my brief interaction with the characters; and for me, Wild Things just hit so many right notes. We follow two completely independent people, each battle scared and world weary, with set understandings of the world around them, and yet each of them meets the one person who locks in them the missing theme in their lives- which happen...more
Melody
Extraordinary. I had to let it simmer overnight before I could come up with anything resembling a coherent review. This is a wonderful book, and I loved it enough that I wish I hadn't read it so I could read it again for the first time.

The characters are agreeably prickly, including the feral old cat who is deeply suspicious of people. The passages narrated by the cat are maybe just a little hokey, but I loved 'em anyway. In my opinion, the descriptions of what it's like to be an artist are dead...more
Kathleen
In her first-ever stable home, 11-year-old Zoe gradually learns to trust her sculptor uncle Henry, works to tame a feral cat, and discovers relatives she never knew she had. Two wonderfully drawn characters, the street-smart, wary child and the brilliant, moody but loving uncle who often seems angry but not at her. The setting in a small southern town in North Carolina makes much of the nearby woods and offers constrastingly broad- and narrow-minded neighbors. The story is structured interesting...more
Ginny Messina
I loved all of the “wild things,” in this book but especially Zoe and Mr. C’Mere, both of whom had been treated poorly by life and couldn’t imagine that they’d ever trust humans.

Generally, I dislike stories told from an animal’s point of view, but Mr. C sounded absolutely right to me—just the way I imagine an old feral cat to think—and I found myself looking forward to his observations more than I would have anticipated. Funny, sad, heartwarming—and great story-telling, too. I was a little temp...more
Katie
I love this book! When I first got it, I thought it might be a bit young for me...but I really got into the story line and loved how there were different characters coming in throughout the story and the connections were slowly revealed. The lead character, Zoe, is a mature young girl who doesn't trust adults and has been practically raising herself. When her mother passes, she goes to live with her uncle, the brother of a father she never knew. I don't want to give away any of the story, but de...more
Maia Ciambriello
Sadly, I didn't finish this book in time to get extra credit. But that's okay. I was reading this book and I realized it wasn't really my forte. I didn't really understand the characters and the narrator. A few parts of this book kept me reading, but overall, this was not one of my favorite books. I feel like the plot was slow and I kept zoning out while I was reading. Although, I did enjoy some parts of this book. For example, I liked hearing about the cat in this story and learning the lesson...more
Judy Desetti
Aug 04, 2011 Judy Desetti rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gr 5-8
Recommended to Judy by: Helen
I really enjoyed this read. Started it as an audio book but finished by reading the novel. I enjoyed the viewpoint of the cat interspersed in the story giving another perspective and dimension to the story. The cat was able to fill in the background of several points,

Other reviews mention that they had a difficult time accepting some of the characters. I admit there are some details which are not totally realistic, but I am willing to believe in the magic of stories and that anything is possibl...more
Helen
This is one of next year's William Allen White's books and I read it to do a book talk. I really liked this one, especially the main characters, although there are several aspects that might be problems for elementary school. Zoe is the main character and her parents weren't married. Her father was a drunk and her mother was insane and eventually committed suicide. So Zoe goes to live with her Uncle Henry who she has never met before. But there she finds a home and eventually adjusts just like t...more
Jamie
I felt as if this book had some examples of really good writing, as well as some adorable drawings of Mr. C'mere in the cat chapters.

This may be an example of where my copious reading hinders my enjoyment, as I felt it compared unfavorably to "daugher of crazy Mom" books Waiting for Normal and What I Call Life.

And like many middle grade books, I occasionally felt that the writing did a disservice, as I was very aware I was reading a book rather than being immersed in a story. Does anyone know w...more
Bobby Simic
Orphaned 11-year-old Zoe goes to live with her unknown half-uncle, who's a famous doctor and sculptor but who's often distant. Eventually fighting her survival insticts, Zoe soon learns to open herself up to people, and, in turn, develops a strong bond with her uncle and his circle of trusted friends.

This one's a bit unwieldy. Too many characters, plot points, and loose threads threaten to derail this. But the protagonist and writing are so good and its heart is in the right place, that all sins...more
Carrie
Wonderful. Reminiscent of books from my childhood, the ones I loved and remembered, about an orphan finding a home and family. And alternating chapters are told from the point of view of a feral cat, which sounds gimicky, but wasn't at all. No profanity, not uncomfortable subject matters, just a nice sweet story, but not told in a pollyanna fashion. I am looking forward to this author's next book already (comes out in 2013).
Jess
I won this book (yay! I love goodreads giveaways!) and I'm glad I did. It was an engaging and heartwarming story about a young girl whose crazy mother has just died and so she goes to live with her heart surgeon/artist uncle. Throw in a cat who narrates and a wild teenage boy who can't read or write and you've got yourself a keeper. But seriously, it was still a good book.

I got this book for free from Goodreads first-reads... yay!
Angela
This is my favorite Caudill book so far this year. There's a lot going on here. Characters I care about. Several dark and deep themes(ie. alcoholism, mental illness, suicide, child abuse, terminal illness, agnosticism), and yet it comes off as refreshing and uplifting. How is that even possible? By having some amazing characters! Lovely writing with two points of view!
Roberta
This is an very well written book with many layers. Wild Things describes a cat? a girl? a boy? a way of life? an uncle? At the surface it is about a girl, Zoe whose mother, a drunk and addict killed herself. She ends up with her uncle she never met who is a sculptor. She pretty much brought herself up with many characters in her life,mostly her mother's stay not too long boyfriends. Her dad was never in the picture. Zoe meets many interesting characters as she slowly has to decide whether to tr...more
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Because I can't always remember titles or I forget to email when people are kind enough to ask "What are you reading?"

Below are a few I've recently liked--or loved--some new, some not.

And I only review or archive books I like or love. Literature is a wildly subjective enterprise; one person's least favorite book may be a book someone else loves best of all.

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“I inhaled the musty, leathery, old-papery scent and a shiver passed over me. If I had any idea of heaven, it was this: shelves and shelves of books, ten times as many as were upstairs, each with stories or pictures more exciting and beautiful than the next, and two overstuffed chairs big enough for me to sleep in.” 10 likes
“You know the thing that burns me most about being a kid?...The worst thing about being a kid is that people twice my size with half my brains get to run my life.

—Zoë”
6 likes
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