Nature seems like a giant box full of goodies. You have to learn to observe nature and arrive at solutions. Animals do it all the time, our ancestors did it too and many inventors credit their inventions to Nature. Birds have inspired scientists to come up with airplanes. Elin Kelsey and illustrator Soyeon Kim have collaborated to come up with a book that talks about animal adaptations and how we too can learn and adapt from Nature. We can arrive at solutions to some complex problems if we learn from Nature. Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking is a  picture book that celebrates Nature as a solution provider

All living creatures encounter difficulties to survive. They all however find creative ways to survive. They observe their surroundings and learn to adapt. In many cases they invent solutions to their problems like the great apes. Many animals stay close to their parents even when they grow up and learn from them constantly. Killer whales keep learning from their mums and baboons from their dads. This ensures their safety and strength in the group, a vital survival skill.

An image from the book

Kelsey explains it best when asked about what brought about the book.

Whenever I watch a bird wrestling high winds at the beach or a squirrel tightrope-walking along a power line, I marvel at animals’ capability to solve problems. I admire the way they manage to survive and thrive with just their bodies and each other — no smartphones or clothes or houses or grocery stores to rely on. I started talking with scientists about how different animals solve problems, and I discovered that many of the strategies they use, we use: things like teamwork, cooperation, relying on friends, and building safe places to rest. I am passionately interested in the interconnections between our lives and the lives of the more than five million other species that live on planet earth. Problems are just a normal part of life, whether you are a cricket or a chihuahua or a kid.                                          

Animals on land, air and water are constantly adapting to their changing environments. Science has been helping humans understand that they may not be the only smart species on earth. Kelsey notes that hyenas adapt their hunting techniques based on who they are hunting with. When the team changes, so do their hunting techniques. Who would have thought! Humans use compasses for direction, while the dung beetle uses stars to guide them.


Whales that were under attack with rising ocean traffic, have now learned to adapt Kelsey says.

Humpback whales have returned to historic population numbers, even in oceans that face problems from pollution and noise, because they rely on social networks between whales to learn new ways of surviving and thriving. Mother trees in forests actively spread their energy to other trees and plants when they are dying. Realizing that we are part of this living, changing, learning planet is a very hopeful idea.

‌Children too like their animal counterparts can observe, invent and adapt. They can learn from their parents and extended family. This simply requires some patience and application, because big teacher Nature is ever giving to those who ask nicely.

The author has used this approach of observing, experimenting and adapting while creating the book. The canvas is stretched to provide the base for the artwork. Kim then draws the characters and hangs them in the diorama with strings. That done, pictures are taken for the book. A variety of mixed media is used to create the artwork. It includes clay, twine, felt, beads and paper. She explains how creating art is akin to problem-solving.

I think creating art itself is a form of creative problem solving. I always wonder how I’m going to craft a scene. I ask myself: is everything going to be inked and painted? How can I capture a humpback whale’s texture with paint? Are there ways to illustrate bubbles other than just cutting paper into circles? I believe the entire process of creating art requires creative problem solving. I also think that it’s important for young people to dream up innovative solutions and think outside the box. Sometimes this kind of thinking can help others, or inspire those around us to be creative and imaginative.

The focus of the book Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking is to point children to multiple ways of understanding and resolving problems. There are too many sources of inspiration to be found in Nature only if we stop to observe and understand.

The next time you come head to head with a problem, take a walk, look around for solutions and you will be surprised.

Do you want to make this book your own? Click on the link below to purchase.

Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking: Kelsey, Elin, Kim, Soyeon:
Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking: Kelsey, Elin, Kim, Soyeon: