________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018


The Wild Beast.

Eric Walters. Illustrated by Sue Todd.
Victoria, BC: Orca, Sept., 2018.
32 pp., hc., pdf & epub, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1589-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1590-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1591-9 (epub).

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



First there was darkness.
The Creator made fire, and there was light, and it was good.
But it was empty.
She threw the fire into the sky. The embers became the stars and the biggest piece of fire became the sun.

Creation stories seem to exist in every culture and country of the world. Some are big ones about the making of everything, and others focus on the source of a single creature. The stories may be folk tales, legends, fables or myths. Even science has its creation stories. This story is based on a traditional tale from Kenya although there are variations throughout Eastern and Central Africa.

      This gentle tale dives right in with the making of fire, the stars and the sun. It moves quickly through the generation of the world and then to filling it with all the animals of the sea, the air and on land. The Wild Beast of the title is the wildebeest. Of course, readers also see how the wildebeest came to be. The language used is simple, elegantly pared down and evocative, perfectly suited to a creation story.

      Eric Walters has been a prolific writer for children of all ages including some series, picture books and books for reluctant readers. It is quite wonderful that he is using his own personal concern and support of orphaned children in Kenya as inspiration in some of his written works. Further information is given at the back of the book and on his extensive website. He has done a number of other stories set in Kenya and a previous book illustrated by Sue Todd, An African Alphabet.

      Todd has used the time-honoured technique of linoleum printing and then scanned the images into the computer to add colour. The result is beautiful pictures that are both raw and realistic; they elicit deep feelings making them both effective and remarkable. The images early in the story are spare and simple while the later ones with the animals are stunningly full of the birds, fish and animals. Todd also has an extensive website with comprehensive particulars about her education and previous work. Her art is very eclectic, including everything from advertising, posters and other books to fine art.

      The Wild Beast is gorgeous! There are a number of notable aspects starting with the fact that the creator is female, a delightful touch. In addition, humans are never mentioned in the story although we are reminded that we should not take more than we need and not waste what we have. The animals depicted are largely from Africa with a nice combination of species. The Wild Beast is an enjoyable read and a pleasurable journey through the illustrations. A great addition to any home or library.

Highly Recommended.

Willow Moonbeam is a librarian and former math professor who lives in Toronto, ON, where she knits shawls and socks as often as possible.

To comment on this title or this review, contact cm@umanitoba.ca.

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