I’m all for personification in picture books, be they lyrical or humorous, and especially when they involve a mix of STEM and social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, like this one.
Acorn was a wild little thing,
pointy on one end and
capped on the other.
He was the first
of his generation to
jump off the tree.
“Don’t do that,” said Oak.
“Squirrels will get you.”
“I don’t care about squirrels,” said Acorn.
“I just want to roll.”
There you have it, charactization in a—ah, nutshell. (I know, I couldn’t help myself. Perhaps I’m a bit like Acorn.)
Acorn finds himself in a pickle with a squirrel who takes him to the top of a tree for lunch, but is then saved by a barking dog when the squirrel chatters back. He gets another thrilling (yes, he’s a daredevil) rush from falling from the squirrel’s jaws to the ground. When rain pelts him like a “Swedish massage,” he says “Ooooh, a bit to the right, please.”
Acorn is filled with life and a sense of adventure! So of course he’s excited when he’s discovered by another squirrel and anticipates a similar fun flight from a tree….only to find himself buried! But being the wild guy that he is, Acorn even finds things to appreciate in that dark underworld—like tickly worms. And I’ll bet you can guess what happens next.
Even as a mighty oak, he keeps his wild side, and never holds his acorns back with a “Don’t do that!” It’s always a “Go for it!”
In the end, he makes many friends in the forest, and celebrates his wildness with them.
This is a fabulous book about taking risks, keeping a positive mindset, and encouraging others to “Go for it!,” too. Jessica Gibson’s illustrations are a perfect match for the enthusiastic nature of the story. I’m thinking that a lot of kids will find much to love in this spunky acorn who embraces life to the fullest. And maybe parents could take note about encouraging kids to take reasonable risks instead of holding them back for fear they might make a mistake, get a “skinned knee,” or fail.
Take a walk in places near you where there are oak trees, to find acorns. Plant the acorns in your yard, garden, or flower pot. Leave them outside and water a little if it doesn’t rain. Wait for them to sprout into seedlings. If they’re in a pot, you can transplant them in your yard.
Pair this book with THE SECOND LIFE OF TREES by Aimée M. Bissonette, Illus. by Nic Jones. Talk about how trees grow from dispersed seeds, and how when they die and rot, their wood serves as a source of nutrients for future seeds that can turn into other plants and trees.
For SEL purposes, pair this book with THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS by Carolyn Crimi, illus. by Lauren Molk. How is Acorn’s personality different from the little dog, Sukie’s? Is the little girl more like Acorn? Does Acorn have any fear? Is he lucky he doesn’t get hurt? Are you more like Suki or Acorn? Do you think parents should be like Acorn? All the time? Sometimes? Why or why not?
Title: Acorn Was a Little Wild
Author: Jen Arena
Illustrator: Jessica Gibson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2022
Ages: Pre-K to elementary
Themes: taking risks, positive attitude, encouraging others
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.