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Book Review: Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World

Title: Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World

Author: Jacqueline Davies

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021

ISBN #- 978-0-358-10631-9

Hop on over, Frog and Toad. Move to the side, Elephant and Piggie.  Fly to the next branch, friends from Owl Diaries. Make way for two new friends, Sydney & Taylor!

“Excuse me,” said Taylor. He was shy around strangers. “I hate to bother you, but well, I’m note quite sure how to do this.” 

“What are you trying to do?” asked one of the frogs. She was shiny, and green, with eyes the size of marbles. 

“Hunt!” said Taylor proudly. 

“Hunt what?” asked another frog. 

“Well…you,” said Taylor, who was a very honest hedgehog. 

The frogs began to laugh. One of them laughed so hard he fell off his rock. 

(p. 44-47)

Sydney, a brave(ish) skunk, and Taylor, a fun-loving hedgehog, decide to hit the road and see the whole wide world. Which means…leaving the burrow they live in in under Miss Nancy’s potting shed! They spend much of their lives feeling warm and content, but begin to develop a bit of an itch to explore the “wide, wide world” (as documented on the map in their burrow). 

The look of contentment, after a long day of exploring the whole wide world.

Reminiscent of Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel with all the page-turning qualities of Mo Willems’ beloved characters, this new series is sure to be a big hit with families, pre-schools, and primary grades in schools everywhere. 

For children ready to graduate to chapter books, readers will feel successful with the short chapters (3-5 pages) with large font. As early readers navigate the way the setting can influence the plot, encourage them to use the map found in the front.

Just for fun: 

  •  A “cut-away” is a graphic feature that shows a “slice” of an item not usually able to be seen. Make sure you point out the cut-away of Sydney & Taylor’s underground burrow before the first chapter! 
  • Miss Nancy is featured on several pages. What do you notice about how the illustrator drew her? I wonder if we’ll see her face in Sydney & Taylor Take a Flying Leap?
  • Make tuna fish sandwiches (a favorite of Sydney and Taylor) and enjoy a picnic in your own “wide, wide world.” 
  • As your child grows, so should his/her emotional vocabulary. Revisit each chapter and use specific words to describe the characters’ feelings. For example, in Chapter 3, the characters are overwhelmed, nervous, but also hopeful. 
  • Find more information (books, websites, pet stores) about hedgehogs. I love the illustration on p. 69 when Sydney curls up in a ball!
  • At 80 pages, your child can reread to practice reading with expression as the characters become more familiar. 
  • Skunks can have a bad reputation, but use Taylor as an excuse to learn more! We even have a skunk rescue near our house. She attends many local events and brings her skunks (even an albino one) with her for people to pet! 

This book has a 4.10/5 stars on Goodreads and 4.5 stars/5 on Amazon. 

★ “With a nod to The Wind in the Willows… Davies sends an odd-couple pair of animal burrow mates out to explore the “whole wide world.”—Booklist, STARRED review

Davies, Jacqueline. Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.