Lots of children’s stories take place in woods. This space can be a place of freedom and happiness, but it can also by mysterious, where unknown dangers lurk. This is also the place where magical beings live, such as fairies and goblins, inhabiting their own world. Wild, by the publisher Flying Eye Books, is an illustrated book that is set in the woods.
Woods are a recurring setting in children’s stories: there are countless stories set in them, the place of the animals and also many fantastical beings. The woods can be a place of freedom, where situations beyond the control of human beings sometimes occur. They can also be a place of passage, which must be crossed to go from one point to another or a place to find provisions. They are also strange and vast places, where bizarre situations occur and unknown dangers lurk.
Wild is the story of a little girl who, just like Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, is abandoned in the woods. The girl is raised and educated by various animals, which teach her to speak, eat and play. But this education is very different to what she would have received if she’d have been raised among humans. Indeed, the conflict arises when the girl is discovered in the woods by a couple of hikers, who decide to "rescue" her and take her to the city. The little girl goes to stay in the house of a psychiatrist, who wants to educate and civilize her. But this is no simple task: the girl can’t understand anything that they are trying to teach her and, besides, she thinks that the way that they are telling her to live is not right, because these beings behave strangely and in the wrong way. One day, the little girl can’t take any more and, after wrecking the house, she quickly escapes to the woods, to be reunited with her beloved animals.
For the little heroine, the woods are her home, the place where she is happy, surrounded by trees and flowers and living (the right way) side by side with the animals. Here, the woods are a place of freedom and happiness; in contrast with the city and civilization, the place of the humans to which she, in theory, should belong. Emily Hughes creates a lush forest, with enormous trees and fast-flowing rivers. A beautiful place that shelters the girl, where she truly feels happy.
The woods are a place with countless senses and meanings in children’s stories and Wild is an illustrated book that shows us some of the different aspects of this setting. The woods are the home of the heroine, the place where she was raised and where she lives side by side with the animals, the creatures she wants to live with, who she really feels close to and understands. And this feeling grows stronger when she’s spent some time living with humans and in their environment, to which, in theory, she should belong. That’s why the little girl runs away, flees to the woods, her home, the place where she is truly free and happy.