Wild is the Wind by Grahame Baker-Smith

Wild is the Wind by Grahame Baker-Smith. Templar Books, 2021. 9781536217926

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? Wild is the Wind has beautiful illustrations: large, luminous, beautiful, colorful and magical. Curves and swerves and puffy clouds give the reader a sense that they can truly catch the wind. I believe the book wanted to be about the wind, as the title hints, but the opening scene depicts a young brown girl communing with swifts in Africa? Maybe? The text doesn’t say. Eventually it’s time and the swifts fly off on what is imaginably a long journey? Maybe? The text fills us in on the 8,000 mile journey at the end of the book but until then we are back learning about how the wind has historically shaped the earth: caves, desserts, storms, etc. The swifts are undistinguished background dashes that are no longer text worthy. Finally, the swifts reach Japan? Maybe? The text doesn’t say. Then we’re back to swifts again where their entire lifecycle is shown in a two page spread. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? The text was a bit confusing and could have used some contextual grounding. Are we talking about wind or swifts and if swifts are the illustrative method for the wind (which they are), then we should have had more geographical grounding.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Perhaps a teacher who could use it as background knowledge for a geography lesson; maybe a lesson on wind-made earth forms.

Who should buy this book? This is definitely a secondary purchase for elementary schools.

Where would you shelve it? Wild is the Wind could be shelved in nonfiction if you can figure out whether it should be under “swifts” or “wind” but it would definitely rest comfortably in the picture book section.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Pamela WattsFlavin, Head of Children’s Services, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 15, 2021

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