A Way with Wild Things begins on the grass, where Poppy Ann Fields, who likes bugs, lies on her stomach, her right arm crooked forward as she delicately balances a ladybug on her fingertip. Illustrator Sara Palacios surrounds her with flowers and several onlookers: a curious cat, two birds on a branch, and many a bug. This scene shows Poppy's comfort zone.
She can coax a shy roly poly out of her shell, but Poppy herself has no such luck around people. "At parties she hid in stripes," writes Theule, and the accompanying picture has a "Where's Waldo" feel. Readers search through flamboyant and active guests until finally the eye settles upon Poppy, whose green-striped dress blends in perfectly with matching wallpaper; she's aided in disguise by the tropical leaves of a potted plant.
Adorably, she can become any background, whether a floral rug, a painted landscape, the pouring rain, or even a leopard in a menagerie. So what is she to do at her grandma's 100th birthday party when her father loudly calls attention to her simply because she claps her hands upon seeing the shimmer of a dragonfly?
This story about intergenerational understanding, the brilliance of being gentle, and the surprising depths of the shy will warm hearts over and over as readers pore back through its pages and pictures. Like Poppy, author Lorissa Theule loves nature and is often shy of people, so her words ring true. We trust that many introverts ages 3 - 6 will find fresh confidence from this story and that young extroverts will gain genuine appreciation for their counterparts.