Erin Reilly-Sanders's Reviews > In the Wild

In the Wild by David Elliott
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's review
Jan 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: picturebook, poetry
Read in January, 2011

Some of the pages in this one are quite stunning with exquisite technique. I found this one on a listserv as the winner for a 2010 mock Caldecott. While the cover is really not that exciting online it looks pretty decent with a plastic covered dust jacket in person and the interior illustrations a even better. The dark bold woodblocks are printed in black which would create a rather stark appearance but instead are unexpectedly softened by watercolors. The rawness of the black designs match the theme of in the wild quite well and the full two-page spread immerse the reader with the wildlife in the wild setting while still leaving room for the poems by fading out to a tint which avoids the problem of leaving a white whole while making the text easily readable. My biggest concern with the illustration is the lack of colour variety between the pages. It starts to become too much, especially with the greens. This could be helped by some of the more imaginative uses of colour such as the arctic-looking page on the wolf that uses lots of different hues of tints but still feels "white" with a predominance of blue-greys. The other possibility is to add an alternating format with either some white as a border, creating a vignette, or even a another tint. Adding "space" this way would create more visual interest through variety. I liked many of the poems but thought that some of them used too similar of a rhyming scheme and that more variety would have been nice. The last poem of the polar bear is quite odd until you realize that you need to turn the page to finish it, unlike the rest of the poems in the book. Several have a nice simplicity but are catchy without feeling like the author is writing down to children, or similarly put, the author generally channels "child-like" rather than "childish."

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