Wonder Walkers

Illustrated by Micha Archer

“I wonder.” “Me too.”

In this beautifully illustrated book, two children leave the house to go on a “wonder walk” and explore the outdoors. They wonder all sorts of things about nature and how things are connected. “Are shells the shore’s necklace? Is the ocean the world’s bath?” They start in the front yard, considering the sky, then explore the neighborhood. They visit the river, the mountains, a meadow, a forest, a cave, a beach, and a creek before making their way back home, all while asking questions about the world around them. Their whole day is spent wandering and wondering.

Wonder Walkers celebrates the Earth’s aliveness and children’s perceptions—wonderings—about how the Earth and its processes are alive, agential, and connected (see Earth System, Gaia, Mother Nature, ecocentrism). An innate sense of curiosity that children have is used to raise questions about the aliveness and personhood of nonhuman entities (see nature rights) encoded in common English expressions: “Is fog the river’s blanket?” “Do mountains have bones?” or “Do caves have mouths?” The book encourages children to be curious about the world around them (see nearby Nature, outdoors) and to explore the relationships between different elements that they see in nature. Although the Earth is not directly anthropomorphized, questions such as “Is dirt the world’s skin?”, “Are shells the shore’s necklace?” or “Is the wind the world’s breathing?” communicate perceptions about nonhuman aliveness and thus a possibility of kinship with the nonhuman (see Kinship Care, Earth Care). These ideas have the potential to introduce causal relationships between human actions and ecosystems health. If trees are the Earth’s legs, for example, what happens when the trees get chopped down? If rivers are the earth’s veins, what happens when they are polluted? The children’s emphasis on the Earth and elements that make up the world show that humans are not the “end-all-be-all” of the world (see ecocentrism, anthropocentrism).

Overall, this book does a great job of showing a connection between wandering—being involved in nature simply by being curious about one’s surroundings (see nearby nature, wilderness)—and wonder as an appreciation of how ecosystems work. The illustrations support the ecocentric idea of humans being Nature and belonging in nature. Each two-page opening contains the image of the child protagonists within an expanse of nature. The children take up little physical space, reinforcing the idea that humans are only a small part of nature. While this book does not explicitly center on climate change or climate activism, it communicates that introducing children to nearby nature and stimulating their innate curiosity is a path to becoming climate literate adults.

©2024 ClimateLit (Cassidy Fox)

See also: An Interview with Micha Archer by Fort Worth Public Library

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2021

Pages: 30

ISBN: 9780593109649

Audience: Little People (4-7), Sprouts (0-3)

Format: Picturebooks

Topics: Animism, Anthropocentrism, Earth System, Earth's Aliveness, Ecocentrism, Ecosystems, Ecosystems Health, Gaia, Kinship Care, Mother Earth, Nearby Nature, Outdoors, Rights of Nature, Wilderness, Wonder