Written and Illustrated by Laurent Moreau
Chronicle Books 11/03/2015
32 pages Age 4—8
“Sometimes there is more to family than meets the eye . . . An older brother is strong and respected, just like an elephant. A mother is stately and beautiful, but she prefers not to stand out—a tall feat for a giraffe! How is a grandmother like an owl, a father like a lion, and an uncle like a bear? What characteristics make humans resemble animals and animals seem like humans? Readers of all ages will delight in Laurent Moreau’s richly rendered, thought-provoking illustrations, and they will entertain perhaps the most wildly illuminating question of all: What makes you special?” [inside jacket]
Do you know what animal you most resemble and why? That is the central premise of My Wild Family. The narrator—a young girl—compares her family and friends in terms of a wild animal, based on similar traits. Her little brother is,
“Flighty and a dreamer, his head is often in the clouds. He’s also an excellent singer.”
And her aunt is,
“Always perfectly primped, she never leaves the house without looking her best.”
As the narrator describes the family members, there is no mention of an animal. You must pay close attention to the wonderfully detailed illustrations to figure out the narrator’s choice of animal.
A spread depicts a classroom led by a teacher solving a math problem. Boys and girls sit in their seats, presumably listening to the lesson. Pictures and a map cover the wall. In one back chair, behind a little girl with a golden ponytail, is the little brother, but you only know this from his earlier description for this is not a traditional student. No, in his seat is a distracted bird facing away from the chalkboard and its teacher. This is little brother—flighty and an excellent singer, just like a bird.
Another spread is that of a shopping center. People are riding escalators, carrying packages, and walking about the shops. A small boy happily holds onto a string with a red balloon floating above his head. Another child has an ice cream cone. Mostly people shuffle about. But if you look carefully, off to the right is an unusual shopper, a perfectly preened peacock. This must be the aunt, who would never leave her house not looking her best.
The illustrations are extremely detailed. If you were to read the text and merely glance at the illustrations as you turn the page, chances are high you would not notice one peculiar creature in a spread containing humans and human activity. Whether by design or not, the descriptions are given early in the book and the animal-person spreads are later, not following the description as one might expect. So listen and remember—you will need to recall this later. To master this listen-memory-recall exercise young children will need practice, and what better way than with wild animals?
My Wild Family is a wonderful story for children. They hear a story about the similarities between familiar animals and familiar people. Then, they need to figure out where the animal is in the spread and whom the animal represents, based on the earlier descriptions. I think kids will enjoy My Wild Family. Teachers can use My Wild Family as a class exercise in deciphering clues, recalling facts, or as an art project with kids drawing a family member as an animal, explaining the similarities between the two. I love books that expand a child’s universe, help them grow mentally or physically, or spark a child’s innate imagination and creativity. My Wild Family fits this bill, while telling an interesting and humorous story with creative illustrations.
**Addendum: Thanks to a comment—which is why I love your thoughts—I realized I have mislead you on this book. As i replied to the comment, My Wild Family is about finding who you are and realizing what makes you who you are (and how those traits are similar to traits in animals). What are your traits and what animal are you like is the central theme. Finding the animals in each spread is a fun addition. I didn’t mean to make it sound like the object of the book. (This is my fault and I apologize). 😦
MY WILD FAMILY. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Laurent Moreau. Published in US, by Chronicle Books, copyright © 2015. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Learn more about My Wild Family HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Laurent Moreau, at her website: http://laurentmoreau.tumblr.com/
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. . Originally published in France in 2013, titled Ma Famille Sauvage, by helium/Actes Sud.
Also by Laurent Moreau
Adventures of the Mechanic Valentine/Game Puzzle Book for Children
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: My Wild Family by Laurent Moreau, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
MY WILD FAMILY. Text and illustrations © 2013 by Laurent Moreau. Used by permission of Chronicle Books.