No mountain is too tall if you have a friend by your side to climb it.
When readers first open Cale Atkinson’s upcoming Explorers of the Wild, they are welcomed with a reassuring truth about friendship. This powerful portrayal of friendship is right on the inner jacket flap.
If the cover wasn’t enough to draw you in, that quote will do it. Cale’s design and development of two characters- a boy and a bear- lure readers into what turns out to be a warm book about friendship and sticking together.
Spread by spread, we see the boy exploring one part of the scenery, and the bear the other. It becomes obvious that the boy and the bear are unaware of each others’ presence.
Both share a mission, and a passion, and a vision: to explore the wild, find neat and strange things, confident that they are explorers, prepared for anything.
They do what any explorer would do- climb over trees, roll down hills, run, and run.
And, as it was bound to happen, the two explorers run into each other. It is at this moment that we see from the facial expressions Cale so carefully depicted that a sense of fear and uncertainty sank in. Suddenly, two brave explorers question their confidence in themselves, and whether or not they are really brave.
But then something else happens. The two realize what is common among them. The desire to explore, investigate, and conquer their fears. And so together they set off, finding new things to explore and experience for the first time- together.
And suddenly, as all good things must, their day comes to an end. The boy must head to his family, and the bear to his family. And it is within the last two pages that we see how two un-alikes, (yet very alikes) capture the moment of their day.
And their greatest discovery of all- a new friend.
Atkinson has once again used his illustration techniques to paint readers a picture of the different ambiances of the woods, and the bond of friendship through the expressions on the characters.
This new title, coming soon from Disney Hyperion, is one you’ll want to add to your collection about friendships, bravery, and exploring the unexpected.
Because you might just find your new best friend.