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What do the children you know usually do when school is out for the summer? Go crazy with boredom? Head poolside with friends? Plan a self-sufficient civilization with its own staple food crop? That is precisely how Wesley decides to spend his summer vacation. Wesley is not an ordinary boy: "He alone in his town disliked pizza and soda, alarming his mother and the school nurse. He found professional football stupid. He'd refused to shave half his head, the hairstyle worn by all the other boys, despite his father's bribe of five dollars." It all starts (the civilization, that is) when Wesley overturns a plot of ground in his yard to see what new and unknown seeds might blow into it. Curiously, just one kind of plant grows--an unusual, flowering, fruit-bearing plant that tastes of "peach, strawberry, pumpkin pie, and flavors he had no name for." Soon, Wesley is literally reaping the fruits of his labors--using the fruit rind to make a cup for the juice he squeezes, barbecuing the root tubers, and weaving the bark into a hat to keep off the sun.
In Wesley's new world, he no longer needs a watch because he uses a flower stalk as a sundial, dividing the day into 8 segments, one for each of the flower's petals. A new language (based on an 80-letter alphabet) and counting system (based on the number 8) soon follow. Ah, Weslandia. Slowly but surely his once-tormenting classmates become curious. And soon enough, Wesley allows them to help him crush seeds for oil, which "had a tangy scent and served him both as suntan lotion and mosquito repellent." He also invents sports that are less distasteful to him than football--"games rich with strategy and complex scoring systems," and watches patiently as his classmates blunder. Wesley's parents say that he looks happy for the first time in years. And when he returns to school in September? "He had no shortage of friends." Newbery Medal winner and onetime alternate-world creator Paul Fleischman shines in this deadpan-but-hilarious picture book, and illustrator Kevin Hawkes's splendid paintings will delight young readers with the explosion of colorful, comical details. Kids young and old will love the once-outcast hero Wesley and his Robinson Crusoe-style triumphs. (Ages 8 to 11, or for reading aloud to younger children) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A young nonconformist invents a self-sufficient civilization in his suburban backyard. "Words and images fluidly play off one another as Wesley creates a language for his new produce and the crop erupts into a lush tropical landscape," wrote PW in our Best Books citation. Ages 4-9. (Aug.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I love this book and ordered it for my classroom. It is a paperback, which I didn't know when I placed the order. Read morePublished 1 month ago by katherine
This is an absolutely enthralling story with a beautiful underdog theme. My favorite aspect is that this is a perfect introduction to permaculture, in that it delves into Earth... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Aaron Blackmor
My 9 year old grand daughter was enthralled with the story and the illustrations. I think the reality of feeling an outsider, handled in the main character struck an immediate... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Auntie Em
Wonderful book that I first read to my boys when they were small and I now give to the young children in the family- boys and girls. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Samantha Doss
My kids love this book. Wesley takes the things he loves and doesn't cave to peer pressure.Published 9 months ago by Lisa
Great book. Have read it to young kids and 5th graders and they have all liked it.Published 10 months ago by suzie glott
This was one of my FAVORITE picture books in elementary school (about 12 years ago). It obviously left an impression because I still remember it all these years later, and I just... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Goofygirl13