Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland

Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland
Life in the Wild
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: Childrens, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

This clever picture book tells readers right away what to expect. ?There once was a bear, a moose and a beaver who loved adventure. But sometimes their competitive natures got in the way of having fun.? One day, the three set off to climb a mountain together. But on the way there, they decide to make it more exciting by turning the climb into a race to the top. It’s only after being sidelined by a series of mishaps — a boulder tumbling down the path, the moose hanging off the side of the cliff, the bear hanging off the moose hanging off the side of the cliff — that the three friends realize competitions don’t always make for a good time. ?At the end of the day, the bear, the moose and the beaver agreed that reaching the top of the mountain was great, but enjoying the journey together was even better.?
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This funny, contemporary fable is from Nicholas Oldland’s popular Life in the Wild series. The wonderful fun here is the comedy that highlights the adventure, in both the dry humor of the text as well as the simple, earth-toned illustrations that provide a humorous visual play-by-play of the action. This would make a terrifically entertaining storytime title, easily promoting the importance of teamwork, kindness and friendship. It could also be used in the early grades as part of a classroom discussion of woodland animals and their habitats. Another lesson here is the pleasure of getting outdoors for recreation.

If you’re not having fun when you’re out with your friends, there’s a problem.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that showed what can happen to someone who goes hiking and doesn’t pay attention to their surroundings. This is the kind of activity that can be a bit dangerous at times for anyone who doesn’t follow basic safety rules, so it was nice to see that acknowledged in a kid-friendly way. I also enjoyed seeing how the characters reacted once they realized that their race up to the top of the mountain wasn’t going to be as quick and easy as they originally thought. Their responses to the actual terrain they were rushing through were perfect.

There were so many missed opportunities for plot development. The storyline would briefly mention something incredibly interesting that happened to the character while they were attempting to get to the top of the mountain only to never bring it up again. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to go into a lot of detail about every single twist in the journey, it would have been nice to have a clearer picture of at least some of their adventures.

The message of this tale was such a positive one. I liked the fact that the characters were given so many opportunities to learn why it’s important to cooperate with each other and what happens when a group of friends decides to treat each other like the competition instead. It was never heavy-handed, but the narrator did get their point across well.

I’d recommend Walk on the Wild Side to adventurers of all ages.

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