Wild Things by Clay Carmichael is the story of an 11-year-old girl named Zoe, whose first-person narrative—tough and knowing but also full of humor and curiosity—grabbed me after the first page. Zoe had already spent a lot of time in the school of hard knocks; Henry, Zoe’s uncle, is gruff, crabby and complicated, and equally compelling. The two of them together make you want to read on to find out more about their lives from the beginning.
The relationship children have with adults has such a huge impact over a child's life, and it’s so important for someone like Zoe, who has had such an unstable childhood, to be able to bond with good people, to know there are good people. I never would have known this was a children’s book if I hadn’t seen the J (for Juvenile) on the spine. Clay Carmichael is not only the author but also the illustrator of this lovely story, which is a William Allen White nomine. I found myself looking forward to each pen-and-ink drawing of the cat, who also narrates the story, as well as to the cat’s thoughts on what was happening.