Review Blog

Nov 19 2014

The Wild One by Sonya Hartnett

cover image

Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Penguin/Viking, 2014. ISBN 9780670076970
(Age: F-12) Charlie met the wild one when he was young. His kite got stuck in the branches of the tree and there, sitting on the bough beside it is a barefoot, slightly dishevelled little boy - looking remarkably like Charlie himself. All day they did things that little boys liked to do running, jumping, splashing, playing in the water, rolling in the mud, hanging from trees and scattering the leaves of autumn. At the end of the day, it was time for Charlie to collect his kite and he was surprised to find that his new friend didn't have to go home. 'Here is where I live,' he said.
Whenever he could, Charlie visited the wild one and played and explored the wonders of nature. They caught tadpoles and saw the tiny legs; they watched caterpillars spin cocoons and spiders weaving webs; and they hooted to the mopoke who stared at them through feather goggles. But such an idyllic life cannot last and Charlie had to go to school to learn mathematics and history and science. Every now and then Charlie visited the wild one and he had not been forgotten but as life intervened the visits became fewer and fewer, until one, day, with his own son in his arms, he cannot find him at all. Is he lost forever?
This is a most gentle story of a boy who finds another side to himself, but loses it as life intervenes but as the sun rises and falls and the moon circles the earth, he discovers it again in time to share it. Beautifully illustrated by Lucia Masciullo - this is the third partnership between the pair - it celebrates the joys of childhood and shows that the magic never quite leaves us, even if we cover it with layers of adult life. The passage of time and the cycle of life are inexorable but deep down we never lose the wonder of our earliest days, and the need to replicate it for our children and our grandchildren.
Like all excellent picture books, this appeals to so many ages. It's perfect for helping the very young understand that time passes and things change, yet at the other end of the scale it would also be a perfect addition to a more abstract, conceptual theme of belonging or journeys or discovery. The more you read it, the more you discover.
Barbara Braxton

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