'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Review: Into The Wild

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 his outlook.

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
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921928789
For ages:  3 – 6
Type: Picture Book