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The Picture Book Buzz

Something Wild - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF Plus Giveaway

I adore Molly Ruttan's illustrations and her author/illustrated book Stray! So I was super excited to see the cover announcement for this new book. It is everything I'd hoped for and more. A gorgeous celebration of the magic of music, imagination, family, and sticking with your passion regardless of any nerves or fear.

Something Wild

Author/Illustrator: Molly Ruttan

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Random House (2023)

Ages: 3-7 (actually all ages)



Stage fright, imagination, humor, family, and the magic of music.


Performance jitters lead to some imaginative what ifs before a little girl finds her confidence.

Hannah loves to play her violin—as long as no one is watching. On the day of the recital, she’s wishing something wild would happen so she won’t have to go. Perhaps a dolphin will jump out of the fountain and carry her away, or a giant rabbit will abscond with her violin. Hannah’s big imagination dreams up all kinds of entertaining scenarios that could change the course of her day, but what actually happens is the most amazing of all!

Children and grown-ups alike will relate to Hannah’s stage fright and get a laugh out of all her wishful thinking. Most importantly, they will be right there beside her on recital day when something wild—and beautiful—happens.

Opening Lines:

Ever since she was small, Hannah

loved to play her violin.

She loved the sound of it, and

she loved how it felt in her hands.

But she didn't love the idea of playing

in front of other people. AT ALL.

What I LOVED about this book:

I love how Molly Ruttan immediately brings the reader into the magic and joy Hannah feels making music through the light and sparkles which radiate from her and the violin and juxtaposes that on the opposite page with her performance anxiety (even if it's just her Mom peeking in the door) with the collapsed, jagged edged, grey image.

Written and illustrated by Molly Ruttan.

Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House ©2023.

Hannah's fear and anxiety grows as the day of her recital nears. With increasingly jagged edges and mostly grey illustrations, her emotions are palpable. Until she wishes "something wild would happen. . ." like birds swooping away with her performance outfit or rabbits mischieviously stealing her violin. The magnificent swirling swooshes of sparkling yellow light highlight the humor and whimsy of Hannah's imagination. I adore these increasingly fantastical, magical images and her family's imagined reactions. My favorite is when she imagines dolphins splashing from a fountain to take her away on an ocean adventure.

Written and illustrated by Molly Ruttan.

Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House ©2023.

But poor Hannah, nothing wild happens. When she leaves the fountain and grey pigeons, what had been a warm inviting door for her family and others, is suddenly a large, looming, grey, and ominous chasm. It's such a wonderful conceptualization of her emotions and fear of the recital.

Written and illustrated by Molly Ruttan.

Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House ©2023.

Molly Ruttan's succinct and powerful text tightly keeps the focus on Hannah's emotions, physical reactions, and fear as she takes the stage to stand in the spotlight. The friendliness of the audience and nearly wordless spreads of her playing her violin are pure magic. I love how Molly gorgeously wove into these images the animals Hannah imagined earlier. And the ending is loving, supportive, and "wild."

This is a spectacular book for celebrating family, the joy and transcendence of music, and providing a gentle commiseration of stage fright. It's a subtle encouragement to push past fears and worries to participate in and enjoy one's passions. A book that will delight again and again.


- make your own violin (with a macaroni box- no strings ) or a cardboard violin (with strings).

- what scenerio you imagine as "something wild" to occur in your own life? Draw a picture or write a description of it.

- pair this with The Piano Recital by Akiko Miyakoshi and The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Something Wild Giveaway

Awesome news! Molly Ruttan is offering one lucky reader a copy of Something Wild.

- Simply comment below (or on Monday's interview of Molly Ruttan - or both) to be entered in the random drawing on March 3rd.

- Be sure to say where (if) you shared the post (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), and I'll add additional entries for you.

- *Sorry US Residents only.*

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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