Wild Child

wild_emilyhughes‘Wild’ by author/illustrator Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books), is about a girl raised by animals in the wild. She’s discovered and removed by some hunters, who attempt to tame her into human society. Their attempts fail, and she escapes joyfully back to her native habitat.

I’m wild about this book because:

The style of the illustrations perfectly reflect the idea behind the book. The marks are crude, childlike, and a bit explosive, yet sophisticated and gorgeous –a balance most illustrators would kill to achieve. The style feels classic and retro, but new and fresh all at once.

The idea is relatable to kids in a literal way – the concept of some animals being wild while others are tame is something kids have to be taught. I remember especially loving the idea of having a pet squirrel, and not understanding why this would be any different than having a cat or dog. By swapping the role of a wild animal with a child, this concept is shown in a playful and relatable way.

wild_emilyhughes2The idea speaks to a larger truth about ourselves – it shows that, just as there is a non-negotiable wildness in nature, there is also variety to be honored within humanity; in lifestyles, creative pursuits, sexual orientation, and for those with conditions, such as autism, that we perceive to be handicaps. Some of us come into this life with non-negotiable natures that don’t fit the mold that society has built, which creates opportunities for the system to find new ways to evolve and grow. I love that this book doesn’t show us a child that learns to fit in to please the world around her. Instead it celebrates a misfit who cannot help but inspire us to move through our own lives as strong, and joyful, and true. “Because you cannot tame something so happily wild.”



Eliza Wheeler

Eliza Wheeler is the author-illustrator of MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS (Penguin), which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. She also illustrated Holly Black’s Newbery Honor winning novel DOLL BONES (Simon & Schuster), Pat Zietlow Miller’s picture book WHEREVER YOU GO (Little Brown), Mara Rockliff’s picture book THE GRUDGE KEEPER (Peachtree), and Tricia Springstubb's new middle grade series CODY (Candlewick). Eliza received the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Grand Prize Award for best portfolio at the 2011 SCBWI National Conference. Eliza is a northern Wisconsin native currently living with her husband in Los Angeles, California. See her work at www.wheelerstudio.com


  1. Margaret Flint Suter

    just left a message for my indie bookseller to order me two copies, one for me and one for my grandchildren. Love the concept and look forward to reading and sharing this story!

  2. Can’t wait to read this story! Thanks for sharing, Eliza.

  3. Love the idea of this book which reminds me of “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.” Can’t wait to read it.

  4. That illustration looks gorgeous. I want to step right in (and swing on a rope vine while I’m at it!). Thanks for sharing this, Eliza!

  5. Sounds perfect for a little girl in my life. I cannot wait until my copy arrives. Have you all read Leopold the Lion? Ruth McNally Barshaw did the art. Text by Denise Brennan-Nelson. It’s just a fantastic little story and the art is fabulous.

  6. I read Wild Child and enjoyed it also. Eliza, I really loved your book, “Wherever you Go” and just recently read “Miss Maple’s Seeds”….you create gorgeous palettes, unique characters and fun landscapes. I’m inspired by the Miss Maple doll you created. I’m on the slow train to publishing, but I enjoy reading picture books (and reading about the process behind the books) while sketching and writing my way to being published.

  7. I can’t wait to see this, Eliza! Thank you for pointing out it’s wonderfulness!

  8. I am anxious to find this. Looks terrific!

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