Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire your Thinking

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire your Thinking

Elin Kelsey
Illustrator:  Kim Soyeon 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Owl Kids, 2015   ISBN: 978-1771470629

Though we would all like to live a trouble-free life, such a life simply does not exist. Problems are always there, and they are “like sticker burrs,” because they “poke,” “prick” and “nag.” They are a nuisance, but they are also something else. Problems are the inspiration for many marvelous ideas, both in the human world and in nature. 

   An example of this phenomenon is probably a lot closer than you imagine. All you have to do is to step outside where there is a good change that you will see a squirrel looking both ways before it crosses a road. It has learned that cars a problem and that they need to be avoided. It has learned, from us humans, how to solve that problem. Squirrels are only one of many animal species that have learned to innovate because of an obstacle that prevents them from attaining their goal.

   Needing a safe place to sleep off the ground, orangutans have learned how to weave sleeping platforms for themselves in trees. Chimpanzees use folded leaves to create spoons so that they can get cool water to drink. Sea otters have also learned how to use tools. They carry around rocks that they use to crack open crabs and shellfish.

   Needing to contain fish in a ‘net,’ humpback whales have learned how to cooperate to create bubble nets that trap fish. Other animals cooperate as well. Ravens, which are highly intelligent birds, have learned how to gesture to each other to “offer ideas,” and hyenas hunt as a pack.

   Just as the squirrel has learned from us how to cross a street, we humans can learn a great deal from animals if we take the time to look, and if we open our minds and hearts to the possibilities. We are not the only innovators on this wonderful planet of ours.

   In this very unique title, a simple yet thoughtful text is paired with delightful multimedia artwork to give readers a book that explores the ways in which animals, and humans too, solve problems. It would appear that inspiration for problem solving is all around us and we have much to observe and learn.