Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet Book Poster Image
Caldecott Honor is about the art, not the ABCs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Encourages taking an interest in why animals are endangered.

Violence & Scariness

Frank commentary on why these animals are endangered.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Caldecott Honor alphabet book isn't meant for kids just learning their ABCs. Each letter incorporates elements of a specific endangered animal. The animal facts section is interesting but upsetting; it cites many reasons these animals are losing their habitats and their lives. The resources section points kids to ways to help save animals and habitats, but it's only a small part of the book.

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What's the story?

Through art and bios, this alphabet book highlights 26 animals on the brink of extinction. Bold, single-letter illustrations are juxtaposed with animal characteristics such as ears, snouts, beaks, and hooves. Basic stats on each animal explain why it's endangered.

Is it any good?

Just going on its illustrations, GONE WILD is an inventive gem. Animal characteristics creep and crawl out of big block letters: The floppy ears, snouts, long necks, and wild eyes belong to endangered animals starting with every letter of the alphabet. But sit down with this book with any kid learning their ABCs, and you'll end up having to explain why some animals have dwindling habitats or are overfished or hunted to near-extinction.

Another minus is that many of the featured animals are rare and unfamiliar. While older kids may find the odd ducks and insects novel, younger ones probably would prefer critters they're used to -- and illustrations that feature cuddly faces. It's not surprising that this is the author's first children's book. This could be a good choice for tweens who love art class or are involved in their school's environmental activities.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animals and the ingenious ways they peek out of the letters. Did you know some of these existed? What familiar animals do they resemble? Why do you think humans have such a big impact on animals? Is it as important to save earwigs as it is to save pandas? Kids can engage in art projects, crafting letters and adding personalities. Families can volunteer to clean up the habitats of some of their favorite local animals.

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