Finding Wild

Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

“It pushes through cracks and crannies and steals back forgotten places.”

Two children go on a wild adventure, leaving behind the order of the city and embracing the chaos of the wilderness. They walk through dark forests and jump into cool lakes; they meet colorful fields of flowers and rocky mountain faces. They are wholly present in every landscape they encounter. In this journey, both external and internal selves are rejuvenated through their interaction with nature, at first tentatively and then with hearts as wide and open as the spaces shown in the book.

This book is an active resistance of what has been described as environmental generational disorder. Simply by placing the two protagonists in lush and varied landscapes, the creators avoid an anthropocentric view of the world; instead, nature takes on the indefinable, intriguing aspects usually reserved for human characters. The characters have no dialogue, and their only action in the book is finding wilderness, telling readers that the most important step to letting the natural world into your life is to notice it. Researchers like E. O. Wilson have written about our innate love of the environment, and it has been cited as a vital step to combating the climate catastrophe and the biodiversity crisis. This book opens a door to the joys of being with nature and being in nature.

The book starts with a leaf in a city. The two protagonists are clearly urban children, stealing time with nature as they leave behind the city. Towards the end of the book, they return to the city (‘all you can see are streets and cars and buildings so high, they hide the sky’). As the solitary leaf floats through this concrete manmade world, it becomes a doorway, for the characters as well as the readers, to experience wilderness at our doorsteps. Drawing attention towards the value of urban wilderness, the book manages to drive home the idea that the human world is not separate from the natural world. In the book, wild is shown as hot and cold, enticing and dangerous, as secretive and abundant—hard to pin down, but an intrinsic part of the world in which we live. The book is a testament to biophilia.

©2024 ClimateLit (Aparna Kapur)

More resources:

The author’s website contains links to supplementary material:

This book is featured in Climate Literacy in Education’s curriculum guide: “Patch of Dirt: Eleven Picturebooks and a Plug for Nearby Nature

Publisher: ‎Knopf Books, 2016

Pages: 32

Lexile Score: AD580L

ISBN: 978-1101932810

Audience: Ages 4-7, Ages 8-13

Format: Picturebooks

Topics: Anthropocene, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Loss, Biophilia, Climate Crisis, Environmental Generational Disorder, Nature, Urban Environments, Urban Wilderness, Wilderness