A child’s world appears in black and white—body indoors and face fixed to a screen—until another child zips by with an invitation to join in a barefoot ramble through the untamed outdoors.
To rhythmic, clipped verse, the pair runs, jumps, and swims through forest and water scenes. They pause to play, to pretend, and to savor. But it’s not all sunshine. A pop-up storm serves as a metaphor for life’s mixed weather patterns. “Rain dumps. / There’ll be slippery slumps. / Bruises. Bumps… / and ROTTEN STUMPS!” The storm passes and the sun returns, so the adventure continues. Covell’s illustrations are exuberant, projecting to readers the raw joy and wonder of exploring the natural world. Thick strokes of what looks like watercolor bleed past bold crayon outlines, creating a delightfully messy sense of movement. This pace matches the staccato rhythm of the fast-flowing rhyming text. The skin tones of the children shift through various shades of beige and brown. Though Covell’s intention for the racial ambiguity is unclear, this inclusion of brown-skinned children encouraged to run “wild” in green spaces is a hugely welcome one given their historic exclusion from same.
This sweetly unruly book is destined for mud-stained and ripped pages, as it is sure to accompany many a child on wild adventures in their own parks, playgrounds, and backyards. (Picture book. 3-7)