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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good used copy: Some light wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins. Text is clean and legible. Possible clean ex-library copy with their stickers and or stamps.
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The Wild Book Hardcover – March 20, 2012

30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A Kirkus Best Children's Book of 2012

A Bank Street College of Education Best Book


* "A beautiful tale of perseverance."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


"Readers will be enchanted."—VOYA


"[A] lyrical glimpse of early twentieth-century Cuba."—Booklist


"Engle’s writing is customarily lovely."—Publishers Weekly


"[A] remarkable, intimate depiction of Fefa's struggle with dyslexia; Engle is masterful at using words to evoke this difficulty, and even those readers unfamiliar with the condition will understand its meaning through her rich use of imagery and detail."—Bulletin


"The idea of a wild book on which to let her words sprout is one that should speak to those with reading difficulties and to aspiring poets as well."—School Library Journal

About the Author

Margarita Engle is the award-winning author of the Newbery Honor book The Surrender Tree, as well as The Poet Slave of Cuba, Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, and Hurricane Dancers. She lives with her husband in Northern California. Visit her at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547581319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547581316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American winner of the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino. Her award winning young adult novels in verse include The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave of Cuba, and The Lightning Dreamer, winner of the PEN USA Award.

Engle's most recent books are Orangutanka, Drum Dream Girl, The Sky Painter, and Enchanted Air. All of these books are to be released in 2015. For news and updates, visit

She lives in central California, where she enjoys helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Experienced Editor VINE VOICE on February 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ponder: Is it possible to use the written word to convey the inability to read written words?

This sensitive book accepts the challenge in a series of short entries in blank verse. While it's clear that the first-person narrator, a young girl named Fefa, is thinking but not actually writing in her empty diary, the artful simplicity of the language is believable. Free from the constraints of rhyme or meter, the lines echo the natural rhythms of a child's speech.

Learning to read and write is not the book's only focus; Fefa also tells about her daily life, her family, her childlike perceptions of a difficult period in Cuba's history. Her inner and outer journeys come together in a dramatic climax, where her patient, persistent practice with her blank book becomes crucial to her entire family.

A child's listening comprehension is much higher than a child's reading comprehension, and the early poems in this series set the stage by sharing Fefa's unwritten thoughts. As the book progresses, the language of the poems simplifies, showing Fefa's struggle to write something on those intimidating white pages every day.
I am
hope - less - ly
fur - i - ous - ly
wea - ry.

Slowly, slowly Fefa conquers her challenge.
My drifts of verse
are free words,
wild and flowing.
The world is filled
with things that flow,
like water, feelings,
daydreams, wind . . .

This small treasure of a book is beautiful not only in its exquisite use of language but also in design: the clear font, flowing headlines, white space, even the apt ornament highlighting each folio. I'm reviewing from uncorrected galleys; I can't wait to see the finished hardbound copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Miller VINE VOICE on February 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is based on the stories that Margarita Engle's grandmother told of her childhood. It is written in free verse form.
Fefa struggles in school because of reading and writing. The words do not seem to make sense to her. She says that they slip and jump away like frogs. The doctor says that she has word-blindness and will never be able to read or write. Fefa's mother disagrees and gives Fefa a blank book to fill with her own words. Fefa begins writing in it nearly everyday. Through this, she begins to feel more confidence in her reading and writing. Outside of her reading and writing, there are other dangers about Fefa. Cuba is a lawless place where bandits are stealing children for ransom. Everyone is scared of the possible danger. When the family is threatened, they do not have enough money to pay for all of the ransoms, but Fefa's book helps her solve the family's troubles. She becomes the heroine, even with her struggles in reading and writing.
My thoughts:
This is a very touching novel. I happen to love novels written in verse, so I came into it biased. The voice of the young girl comes through perfectly. I can hear the struggles of developing words, sounding out syllables, and then the growing boldness of her choices. I root for her when she has to read things out loud, and feel bad when she describes frustrations and loneliness. This was a fairly predictable book, but it does not detract from the language and flow. It's also such a quick read that I don't know why someone would put it down or not pick it up to begin with. I've given it 5 stars because I really can't think of a reason to not recommend this to my students. I think the advanced readers will enjoy it just as much as the struggling ones. Bravo Margarita Engle!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By speakfriend on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I received an advance copy of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program. As a teacher, I was hoping that this book would be a welcome addition to my classroom library, and suitable for reading to my class, and I was looking forward to reading it. However, it is not what I expected.

The story of Fefa and her "word blindness" is told in a series of poems. It is beautifully written, full of wonderful imagery, like art made with words. I enjoyed reading it, but I am an adult. I cannot picture any of my 5th grade students being interested in reading it, and I am not even sure I could read it aloud and have them be interested. As another reviewer asked, who is the author's intended audience? As teachers, we talk to our students about an author's purpose, whether it be to entertain or to share information, and who the intended audience is. If the intended audience was the upper elementary grades, then I am not sure she hit the mark. As beautifully written as the book is, I am just not sure who will read it. Was the author thinking of her intended audience when she wrote it? Did she have an intended audience?

In the end, I am disappointed in the book, because as much as I loved it myself, I do not believe that it will be accessible to my students. The style that makes it "word art" and fills it with such evocative imagery, also seems to work against it in terms of being of interest to children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on March 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In her newest book, award-winning author Margarita Engle turns to her own family history for inspiration. Set in 1912, this novel in verse brings to life the story of Engle's grandmother, Fefa, who grew up in Cuba afflicted by "word-blindness," the term used at that time for dyslexia. She struggles every time she is handed a book to read:

I know that the words
want to trick me.
The letters will jumble
and spill off the page,
leaping and hopping,
jumping far away,
like slimy

Her mother refuses to accept "the hissing doctor's verdict," and gives her daughter a book--a blank diary, or is it "an ordinary/schoolbook/filled with frog-slippery/tricky letters/that know how to leap/and escape?"

She tries to patiently write in her blank book each night, her "wild diary," and wonders how reading can look so easy, yet be so impossible? Will her wild book "ever seem tame?" She struggles on with her reading, reading slowly to sound out the words. What good can come of this word blindness? In a surprising twist, Fefa's careful powers of observation with the written word will end up helping to save her family from danger.

Engle's spare verse captures so eloquently 11 year old Fefa's frustration and yet fascination with words, reading, and writing, as well as the Cuba of yesteryear, a time when bandits roam the land, kidnapping children and holding them for ransom. The pages of the book are nearly as blank as the pages in Fefa's wild book, with the narrative told with few words but memorable poetic images. Fefa lives in the countryside on a farm, where her many sisters and brothers tease her and on her Sunday outings to town she strolls around the plaza with her cousin, while "girls just daydream/and smile.
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