Picture Book Review: Into the Wild written by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Mel Armstrong

Illustrated by Mel Armstrong, Published by New Frontier Publishing UK

Into the Wild written by Robert Vescio and illustrated by Mel Armstrong is an absolutely joyful book to share with young children as it follows the adventurous wanderings of a young boy named Roman. It celebrates the wonder of nature and the comfort of finding someone special to share your precious moments with.

The illustrations by Mel Armstrong are beautifully rendered in all the vibrant colours of nature. The expressions on the young protagonist’s face completely capture the absorption displayed by children as they witness the marvels of the natural world.

This book is beautifully designed, with some pages having multiple illustrated panels, encouraging your eyes to naturally follow Roman on his expeditions through the woods, fields and shoreline surrounding his house. The minimal text by Robert Vescio is very simple, often just a few words per double page spread and in my opinion they are in poetic harmony with the pictures, projecting the story whilst leaving plenty of space for discussion between adult and child readers.

As we progress through Roman’s journey of discovery, we glimpse the tantalising fluttering colours of something just to the edge of his vision and when Roman finally discovers the owner of the coloured scarf we share his joy at finding a soulmate with whom he can share nature’s treasures.

This is an utterly beautiful book which I would highly recommend for sharing with any child from the age of 2 to 6. Not only are the text and illustrations completely absorbing, it is one of those picture books which will stimulate hours and hours of conversation and inspiration to get outside and investigate the plants, insects, birds and animals to be found wherever you live. It is so important for younger children to have access to books which will help them build the hinterland of vocabulary and knowledge needed for learning and I strongly encourage you to add Into the Wild to your bookshelf or library collection.

You can find teaching notes and activity sheets linked to Into the Wild here.

I am most grateful to New Frontier Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

If you wish to explore other books by this author and illustrator you can read my reviews of Under the Same Sky by Robert Vescio here and A Home for Luna illustrated by Mel Armstrong here.

Review: A Home for Luna by Stef Gemmill and Mel Armstrong

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New Frontier Publishing are releasing some outstanding picture books into the market this autumn, and this one is sure to melt hearts, as bedraggled Luna searches for a new home.

The author, Stef Gemmill’s words are accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations in a muted, natural, colour palette created by Mel Armstrong. I believe that this is the first picture book that she has illustrated – it’s a stunningly impressive debut. In an inspired nod to her target audience there is a small hermit crab to find on every page, an activity that little children will love and that again emphasises the theme of searching for a home.

It is not clear why the little cat Luna has washed up on a strange shore, only that “sounds of danger had made her leave her home.”  She is tired, friendless and hungry, but gradually she finds a trusting friendship with a huddle of penguins and an unlikely partnership develops. The simple, elegant text and characterful pictures convey this poignant story perfectly for a young audience.  The tale can be enjoyed at a surface level as one of developing friendship and finding a new home, and on another level this book could be used as the start of a discussion about displacement and refugees with young children.

 

I am most grateful to New Frontier Publishing for sending me a review copy which will be added to our school library, and is a lovely addition to our “Read for Empathy” collection.