Walk on the Wild Side: A KidLit “Five Things I’ve Learned Review”…

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Today I have the perfect illustrated tale for those who love a good ramble, hike, bushwalk – whatever you call it in your part of the world – and who like to read stories about animals who share human hobbies.  I received Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland from the publisher from Netgalley ages and ages ago and I’m only just getting around to it now.  That’s probably alright though because it was only published on March 1st, so technically I’m still ahead of the game.  Because it IS a competition.  Even if you don’t know it.

Beaver, Moose and Bear are out for a bit of a ramble in the great outdoors when they decide to make their walk a competition – just to make things more fun.  Whoever gets to the top of the mountain first, wins.  Along the way, the leaderboard changes as each animal finds parts of the terrain more suited to their natural abilities, and then….DISASTER!  By the end of the walk, these wily wild creatures may just realise that competition can be fun, but working together has a charm all its own.

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So here’s….

Five Things I’ve Learned From…

Walk on the Wild Side

1. Things are always more fun when they are made into a competition. No, wait, I mean a collaboration.

2. Beavers, bears and moose (mooses? meese?) are not the natural enemies I thought they were.

3. When going on a bushwalk, hike, ramble (whatever you call it in your part of the world), always wear sturdy shoes and tell someone where you’re going. Unless you’re an animal. Then just do whatever and hope for the best.

4. Tiny saplings that grow out of dangerous cliffs are not designed to hold the weight of more than one large, hairy mammal at a time.

5.  All natural, sustainable, beaver-carved ladders are almost certainly going to be the next big thing in eco-decorating, for their usefulness and rustic appeal.

From the cover reminiscent of the Beatle’s Abbey Road album, to the map-like trail of the three animal friends, to the straightforward plot narration, this book reminded me fondly of Chris Judge’s Lonely Beast series.  I really enjoyed this little foray into the wilderness with these three intrepid (if mildly competitive) friends and I was surprised to note that this book is actually part of its own series, with other books by Oldland featuring the characters individually.

The story here is pretty simple stuff with an obvious moral – three friends decide to have a race and then realise that, when all’s said and done, sometimes it’s just better to enjoy time spent together instead of setting up winners and losers.  The star in this book is the artwork, with the wry expressions of Beaver complimenting the sometimes pleasantly vacant expressions of Moose and the earnest consideration of Bear.  An observant little pink bird also makes an appearance on each page and younger mini-fleshlings will have fun trying to spot it.  I think the subtle humour contained in the imagery will make this book a favourite with early primary-aged kids, and it is one of those books that deserves a second, third, and fourth reading.

I will certainly put Oldland’s work on my radar, and I wouldn’t mind getting my paws on Up the Creek – I can’t get over Moose’s slightly surprised expression on the cover, so will have to chase down some more of this unlikely trio’s adventures.

Now that you’ve all been enlightened by my insightful learnings, you should probably go take a walk on the wild side to your favourite book-selling emporium to pick this one up. Don’t forget to wear sturdy walking shoes, and tell someone where you’re going.

Until next time,

Bruce