Robert Vescio’s picture book writing
style champions economic creativity. Couple reserved narration with Mel Armstrong’s
beguiling almost geometric illustrations and you’ve got a visual and audible
treat for the senses. Into The Wild is all about sensory exploration.
Although published in 2020 (yes, I’m
ridiculously behind in my reviews!), this story is still as relevant as ever.
Clever too. It begins with Roman, a lone wanderer. We’re immediately
invested in this unique boy thanks to his name-word-play.
Roman’s isolation is
appealing and relatable for small children who, although may roll within large
groups of same-aged others, will often stop and admire the curious or unusual,
utterly and privately captivated by a new discovery.
This is Roman. He craves wonder and
surprise and wanders far and wide to find it. Occasionally, the wild feels just
a little too ominous and unknown. What he really needs is a supporting someone with
whom to share his adventures. But how does one hook up with someone who
relishes the secrets of the wild as profoundly as he does, who understands the
joy of being alone amidst the crowded awesomeness of nature? Who knows that existing
aside the ordinary, things of great rarity and interest may be found.
Then, during one of his many
intrepid treks, Roman makes a discovery that simultaneously changes and crystallises
In The Wild is unforced and fanciful. Grounding and gratifying
and above all else, gloriously good for one’s soul. Bright splashes of colour
and striking lined drawings alternating between intriguing vignettes to full
page spreads draw young readers into the wild with Roman while Vescio’s text
provides just enough incentive to keep page turning until the heartwarming end.
The message here, if one must expose
one, is simple: to simply soak in the simple things, the small things, the
seemingly uninteresting things. Roman’s curiosity and wanderlust promote
adventure and an appreciation of all that surrounds us, suggesting that while doing
so children may uncover beautiful footnotes of friendship. Because, joy
shared is joy doubled, right?
Title: Into The Wild
Author: Robert Vescio
Illustrator: Mel Armstrong
Publisher: New Frontier, $11.99
Publication Date: 1 October 2020
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book