By Author / Illustrator
Isabella Tree, Allira Tee
The Ivy Press
Paperback / softback
From the bestselling author and rewilding pioneer Isabella Tree, When We Went Wild is a heartwarming, sustainably printed picture book about the benefits of letting nature take the lead, inspired by her real-life rewilding projects.
Nancy and Jake are farmers. They raise their cows and pigs, and grow their crops. They use a lot of big machines to help them, and spray a lot of chemicals to get rid of the weeds and the pests. That's what all good farmers do, isn't it? And yet, there is no wildlife living on their farm. The animals look sad. Even the trees look sad! One day, Nancy has an idea... what if they stopped using all the machines, and all the chemicals, and instead they went wild?
The author's own experience of rewilding her estate at Knepp has influenced conservation techniques around the world that are bringing nature back to the countryside and bringing threatened species back from the brink.
When We Went Wild is a story about how we can bring nature back. Based around farmers Nancy and Jake, the story shares the strong message of conservation through the reduction of agricultural chemicals and machinery.
Following their beliefs of what 'good farmers' do, Nancy and Jake spread chemicals on their crops to remove pests and use machines to milk cattle. Each day, each month, each season is spent in the same way but the cost of farming in this manner is not only huge financially but also in its impact on the environment.
After receiving yet another unpaid bill and with no money to pay for it, as well as seeing just how sad the farm looks, Nancy is inspired by what she sees on an African Safari advert. The animals look happy. There is no heavy machinery in their way, there are no chemicals being spread. There is just nature being wild. Inspired by this, the farmers make the decision to sell all their unnatural materials and let the farm return to the wild. The animals became free range and before too long, plants grew where they hadn't grown before. The farm is a happy place.
This new method of farming is met with resistance from the neighbours, however. Complaints about overgrown wild plants and noisy animals have Nancy and Jake concerned that they are going to have to return to their old ways....but will a sudden change in weather prove to be their saviour?
Although not a fully true story, the book is inspired by real life events. Author Isabella Tree and her husband rewilded their own farm in 2000 and the results shared in the story are in fact the same that they experienced. Since then, Isabella has flown the flag for conservation on farms through rewilding. A new concept to me, I found myself learning about the benefits of 'rewilding' through not only story but also the information shared by Isabella on the final pages.
The book is accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Allira Tee whose artwork feels very natural and innkeeping with the theme of the book.
I think this would be a very worthwhile text to support the primary science curriculum as it shares information about conservation through rewilding. I will be sharing this text with my Science Subject Leader and recommending it to staff.
Picture book / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+