An appealing adventure that celebrates the wilderness.


A young boy and his dog seek a home in the woods in this debut picture book.

Wolfgang, a blond-haired White boy with a trusty Dalmatian, decides to live in the wild, and he’s out the door of his family’s cabin before his mother can tell him, “Dinner will be ready when you come home.” Accompanied by his pooch and a parade of wild animals, Wolfgang heads into the woods and arrives at a vast lake. When he encounters animals, he asks about their homes. But he realizes that the anthill is too small, the pine tree too high, and the forest too vast for him to make a cozy home. Finally, when his mother calls him for dinner, he returns to his house, happy to be there—but still intent on living in the wild the next day. Using vibrant language to describe Wolfgang’s odyssey, Kelly Birdsong and Tim Birdsong make the textures, sounds, sights, and smells vivid for young readers. Kramer’s mixed-media illustrations, which feature cartoon and sketched characters and animals against painted backgrounds, are equally inviting. But the assortment of creatures is never mentioned in the text, and readers may be surprised that a bear, wolf, fox, dog, and squirrel get along so well. The images also indicate a much wider world throughout the story than is indicated in the last pages when Wolfgang returns home. This will lead many readers to question how much of the trek is in the boy’s imagination.

An appealing adventure that celebrates the wilderness.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781667880235

Page Count: 32

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.


A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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