Song of the Wild

h1 September 26th, 2017 by jules

“White wings, as delicate as paper,
and a body lighter than a cupcake …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see full text)


Here’s a quick post to show you a bit of art from a book, coming to shelves in early October, that will catch the eye of young readers. Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals comes from children’s book author and zoologist Nicola Davies. I always love to see what she’s up to, and this book, with illustrations from Petr Horáček, is a wonderful offering. As the title indicates, it’s a “first book” of animals, geared at young children — and great for browsing, over a hundred pages as it is.

This is what can best be described as a series of poems from Davies, some rhyming and some free verse. She divides the book into broad categories that will grab the attention of wee ones — “Big and Small”; “Colors and Shapes”; “Animal Homes”; “Animal Babies”; and “Animals in Action.” Each poem is one of broad strokes: A short poem about lions, for instance, is about their sleep and how, when they wake, you’ll witness rippling muscles and “long, sharp teeth.” Yet, even for all the broad strokes, Davies manages to work in some impressive details. A short entry about camels and their humps communicates to readers that dromedaries have just one hump, while Bactrian camels have two.

Davies includes some lyrical, beautifully-crafted figurative language as well: In one poem, “Whale Shark,” she writes:

Like a piece of fallen starry sky,
the spotted whale shark cruises by,
swimming the secret depths alone.
As soon as it appears, it’s gone.

The range here includes animals of the ocean, land, and air — from parasites to orangutans and fleas to elephants. Horáček’s vivid mixed-media illustrations are textured and dynamic. The endpapers are the most beautiful I’ve seen all year (hint: See the spread at the top of this post), and if you take the dustjacket off, you’ll get a surprise giraffe (on the front anyway).

Delightful. It’s one children will love to dip in and out of. Here’s one more spread …


“Inside the hum and hurry of the hive,
a bee has news to tell her sisters …”

(Click to enlarge and see full text)


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SONG OF THE WILD. Text copyright © 2017 by Nicola Davies. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Petr Horacek. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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