Acorn Was a Little Wild – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.

Text ©Jen Arena. Illustration ©Jessica Gibson

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.”

Text ©Jen Arena. Illustration ©Jessica Gibson

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?

Make origami autumn leaves, origami acorns, and origami squirrels (this last one is more challenging).

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.

14 thoughts on “Acorn Was a Little Wild – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      This is one of those books where I think the “change” (in addition to the arc of going from seed to mature tree) ends up being a possible change in perspective of the reader. Maybe they’ll be a little more willing to step outside their comfort zones (or at least think about doing so) after reading this story.

  1. sarahpeacetobias says:

    Another one for my to read and possible comp title for sa story that is a bit buried, but ready to grow.

    I went down an Austin Kleon rabbit hole this morning and found this post about seeds.

    I feel like I have a theme for the day.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    Oh I love this spunky little acorn. Such a perfect read for the season. Everything living has it’s role to play in the changing seasons. Such an uplifting story with gorgeous artwork! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Maria Marshall says:

    This sounds so fun! I love the characterization of Acorn! Waiting for my hold – 5th in line for 26 books. It is already pretty popular. Thanks for the great review, Jilanne. (And the snickers at your puns!)

  4. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Oh my. I read your post and had the book in my hands by this week! What a fun, character driven book. Enzo and I read this one together. We don’t do that as much anymore. Our backyard full of acorns is wild just like acorn.

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