Friday, December 4, 2020

EXPLORERS OF THE WILD by Cale Atkinson - A fun adventure story for a child and a bear

One of my favourite themes in picture books and children's novels is adventure, so I was delighted to recently discover this beautifully illustrated picture book by Canadian author-illustrator Cale Atkinson! I read it as an e-book from my local library. (Even though I always prefer to hold and pore over a hard copy, e-books have the advantage of a view of the complete illustration not obscured by the gutter from the binding). 

Summary from the publisher:

Boy and Bear both love to explore the outdoors. There are so many neat things to see, and so many strange things to find. These explorers are prepared for anything . . . except each other!

When Bear and Boy meet in the woods, they're scared at first. Really scared. But soon these kings of the wild realize that no mountain is too big to conquer if you have a friend to climb it by your side.

Explorers of the Wild was written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson, and published by Disney-Hyperion in 2016.


Why I liked this book:

The colourful and detail-packed illustrations really went well with the single-day adventure. I think kids will love the friendly-looking characters and the "big surprise" when they meet each other. Such a cute story!

From a writer's perspective...

I'd read this again or use it as a mentor text if I were writing a picture book with two parallel stories. This is a great example of a book with two parallel stories that meet partway through the story and continue on together. The simple text really lets the illustrations shine.

From an educator's perspective:

This is a lovely celebration of a single day's adventure into the woods. It reminded me a little of an old favourite, "Where's My Teddy?" by Jez Alborough. It would be fun to discuss the different perspectives of the characters and what they see or bring on the adventure. This story could also lead to a discussion about how some friendships are based on common interests. As a read aloud, this could inspire some wonderful some student art and writing!

Ages: 4-7

Grades: K – 2

Themes: adventures, nature, friendship


Create: Think about what might happen if you planned your own adventure. Draw small pictures of all the things you'd bring along. Or, cut them out of a flyer and glue them in a collage, with a few words of explanation.  

Write: Write a story about your own adventure! You could use the prompt: If I was exploring the wilderness... 

Imagine and draw: What do you think happened when the bear got home? What about the boy? Draw comic to show what happened next.