The Wilderness

Steve McCarthy

Walker (3+) 9781406385199 (Hardback)

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The Vasylenko family are adventurers who like exploring the outside world that surrounds them.  All except for Oktober who is more introverted and hates being outside.  This is an adventure story about conquering one’s fears and apprehensions and connecting with experiences in the wild of the outdoors.  Themes of family and outdoor days, exploration, and the natural world abound in this story about self-belief and inner courage.

The book offers an enchanting look at chaotic family life with lots going on even when characters are sleeping. There is a pervading sense of love through the book shown through physical reassurance and affection. Use of colour is strong with Autumnal palettes reflecting Oktober’s name and showing the Wilderness in its riot of colour. Clever use of panels helps to keep the pace of the narrative fresh and adds to the adventurous feel of the story. Characters are endearing, diverse and quirky. There is a prevalent theme of mysteriousness with strange plants and creatures inhabiting different terrains that feel unfamiliar and sometimes hostile. There is a wealth of detail to discover on each spread and the sense of scale of the vast wilderness is impressive.

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Steve McCarthy

Steve McCarthy is an Irish designer, illustrator and bearded gentleman. His style is bold, colourful and inspired by humour and wit. Working with a mix of practical and digital techniques, his work feels most comfortable somewhere between the yellow submarine and Dumbo’s pink elephants. Steve was home-schooled and had a very free childhood, which was the inspiration behind The Wilderness. His poetry anthology with Sarah Webb, A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea, was the 2017 children’s book of the year at the Irish Book Awards. Steve comes from working as a background designer, most notably for the animated feature film Song of the Sea, which was nominated for an academy award in 2015. He was also an Artist for Residence in Facebook in Dublin in 2018. He lives in south east London. Find Steve online at www.mrstevemccarthy.com, and on Twitter and Instagram as @mrstevemccarthy.

Shadowers' reviews and artwork

I love the illustrations they are all so cute and I love how natural and beautiful the colours are. I love how it’s so small and simple but so detailed and dramatic. I love how the characters are named after months - it makes it more enjoyable. Younger children will look out for their month/character.


Witham St Hughs Readers

The illustration make you want to read this book from the front cover. It is such a good book. It will help children overcome their fears and anxieties by being brave and trying new adventures. The colours in the book were so bright and reminded me of the autumn.


Rebel Readers

This book was adorable and it’s perfect for little children to read and also to hear being read out loud. The main character in the book is a boy called Oktober and he was afraid of the “Wilderness” but he soon realises that he just needed to get out of the house and explore it! One of my favourite parts of the book was that he has 11 siblings and they are all called by the months of the year. I thought that was very creative. The best part of this book, was the illustration. It is amazing. Such beautiful detailed pictures, in fact, it’s so beautiful I couldn’t pick my favourite image.


Rebel Readers

Stepping into a diverse world full of the dangers that earth could have, October wades through the wilderness fearing what lies before her. The Wilderness is a lovely book for ages 5 and above. I would rate it 5 stars as the pictures took my breath away.


St James Hatcham Book Club

Reading The Wilderness was a pleasure because it dives into a magical place and shows you that you can overcome your fears and do things that you weren’t able to do. It tells you that you should never give up on what you love or judge others based on what you see in a book or what others tell you. I recommend this to ages 3-9 and give it 5 stars*****


St James Hatcham Book Club

I found the pictures very attractive and it helps to know how the characters were feeling. At one point I liked when it showed what type of character they are by how they were sleeping like July was a very messy person and I found the story a bit short but it was still a good story and maybe make the then one longer. The characters were described well and the wilderness was animated greatly!

Thomas W