cover image A Way with Wild Things

A Way with Wild Things

Larissa Theule, illus. by Sara Palacios. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68119-039-6

Poppy Ann Fields has a wonderful rapport with bugs. She’s a connoisseur of spiderwebs and “cicadas’ newest symphony,” Theule (Born to Ride) writes, and she can coax a pill bug out of its shell. Mixing with other human beings in their habitat is another story: Poppy does her best to disappear in every setting, whether it’s blending in with wallpaper stripes or hiding in the branches of a miniature orange tree. It looks like the big 100th picnic birthday party for Grandma Phyllis will be no exception—though from the sidelines, beneath papel picado banners, the ever-observant child notices how the guests “looked like colorful leaves falling/ into/ each other,/ then/ drifting/ apart.” When a dragonfly alights on Poppy’s hand (“The scientific name is Anisoptera,” Poppy tells everyone “softly, but clearly”), the crowd realizes she has a special connection with the natural world, and for the first time, Poppy’s patience, focus, and willingness to embrace stillness count for something among her relations. “You wildflower, you,” Grandma Phyllis says, giving her a big hug. Palacios (Between Us and Abuela) echoes the tenderness of the narration with a palette reminiscent of old-fashioned botanical prints: aqueous blues, warm reds, and warm, grassy greens. A glossary of “bug friends” concludes. Ages 3–6. [em](Mar.) [/em]