About the Holiday
Insects are endlessly fascinating, and this week celebrates their diversity, purpose, and beauty. This week was established by the Royal Entomological Society to encourage people to learn more about insects, from those close to home to the exotic species around the world. This year the theme is Entomology at Home and people are invited to participate by learning about local species of insects and enjoying the resources on the National Insect Week website. There’s a photography contest, learning videos for all ages, access to Instar the Magazine for Young Entomologists, and so much more, including a mention of “the most bizarre use” of an insect ever imagined. To discover all of the resources and fun, visit the National Insect Week website.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for sharing a copy of A Way with Wild Things for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.
A Way with Wild Things
Written by Larissa Theule | Illustrated by Sara Palacios
Poppy Ann Fields made friends with lots of bugs. She appreciated all of their natural talents—the way the cicadas formed a symphony, the way the ants marched in perfect lines, the way the shy roly poly said hello, and the “magnificent art” the spider wove. She could spend all day outside among these friends, “but when people came around, Poppy preferred to disappear into the background.”
At parties she dressed to blend in with the wallpaper or the brightly flowered rug. She could disappear into the framed landscape on the wall or behind the tree in the corner. To celebrate Grandma Phyllis’s 100th birthday, there was a big party. Poppy watched from behind the flowers and bushes. She watched as people strolled about, meeting and hugging, dancing and running. “They looked like colorful leaves falling into each other then drifting apart.”
A shimmering dragonfly drifted on the breeze and landed on the cake. “Her whole heart glad, Poppy clapped her hands.” She came over to look and that’s when Uncle Dan spotted her. His voice boomed, “‘Poppy Ann Fields, you wallflower, you. So that’s where you’ve been hiding this time.’” Everyone turned to look at Poppy. She froze. The dragonfly took off… “and landed in her hand.” No one could believe it; they smiled and stared in wonder. Then they moved in to get a closer look.
Poppy wished she could run away. She didn’t know where to look, so she gazed at the dragonfly. “She knew the dragonfly had come here for her.” She listened to the cicadas’ music wafting through the air and took a breath. Then she spoke, telling everyone the dragonfly’s scientific name. Grandma Phyllis clasped her hands and gave Poppy a hug. “‘You wildflower, you,’” she whispered. In her heart Poppy knew Grandma Phyllis was right. She was not a wallflower, but “a wildflower.”
An illustrated glossary of Poppy’s bug friends, along with their scientific name and a brief description follows the story.
Larissa Theule’s quietly comforting story is balm for those thoughtful, introverted children who interact with the world through observation, contemplation, and gentle interactions. With the soul of a poet, Poppy listens to, watches, and connects with nature, feeling its rhythms and wonder with her whole heart. Theule’s carefully chosen verbs and play on the idea of nature embrace Poppy’s personality. Poppy “preferred” to observe large, noisy gatherings from the sidelines while she “became” things that most people find lovely: landscapes, trees, rain, a group of animals.
When Uncle Dan’s loud voice turns everyone’s attention to Poppy, Theule’s simply stated “she was scared down to her toes” validates the feelings of kids who’d rather not be in the spotlight and gives children and adults an opportunity to talk about these emotions. The party-goers’ enthusiasm to hear what Poppy has to say and Grandma Phyllis’s loving and apt nickname for her granddaughter will reassure introverted readers that they are seen and appreciated for their unique strengths.
Sara Palacios festival of flowers—found outside, in Poppy’s home décor, and on party-goers’ clothing—surrounds Poppy and reveals that she is a part of and does fit in everywhere. One of the joys of A Way with Wild Things is finding Poppy on each page and appreciating Palacio’s creative genius in how she uses camouflage similar to nature. Her vivid, textured illustrations are joyous and full of love for nature, for life, and especially for Poppy who tenderly takes it all in and makes it uniquely hers.
Ages 3 – 6
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1681190396
Discover more about Larissa Theule and her books on her website.
To learn more about Sara Palacios, her books, and her art, visit her website.
National Insect Week Activity
Your kids can bring the beauty of nature inside with this easy-to-make dragonfly craft.
- Wooden clothespin
- Wax paper
- Bright green craft paint
- Bright blue craft paint
- Green glitter
- Blue glitter
- Paint brush
- Thread or fishing line (optional)
- Adhesive magnet (optional)
To Make the Body
- Paint the top part of the clothespin (to the point where the metal hinge crosses the wood) green
- Sprinkle green glitter on the wet paint, let dry
- Paint the bottom part of the clothespin blue
- Sprinkle blue glitter on the wet paint, let dry
- If the glitter doesn’t completely stick, apply a thin layer of glue with a toothpick and add more glitter
To Make the Wings
- Cut two 5-inch-by-3/4-inch strips from the wax paper
- Cut a curved edge at each end of the wax paper strips, cutting straight down from the top and curving around the bottom corner
- Cut curved notches in the center, top and bottom, of each wing to allow the wings to fit into the clothespin
- Open the clothespin and slip the wings in, curved edge down and allowing the top wing to overlap the bottom wing slightly
Attach the thread or fishing line to the dragonfly to hang, or to make a refrigerator magnet, attach an adhesive magnetic strip to the back.
You can find A Way with Wild Things at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
What a beautiful book! This is my son to a T. He freezes in the spotlight. I missed this one in the disaster that was 2020. I’ll be adding it to my TBR list. THanks!
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This is a fantastic book! This is my son too – except replace insects with books. I’d love to know what you think!
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