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The Boy Who Loved Words Hardcover – March 28, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-Schotter blends magical realism with a tongue-tingling narrative to create an ode to the power and purpose of language. Selig is passionate about words-their sounds (tintinnabulating!), their taste (tantalizing!), and the way they moved his heart. An avid word-hoarder, he delights in discovering new terms, recording them on paper scraps, and stowing them in pockets. Unable to comprehend their son's strange predilection, his practical-minded parents worry about his future, and his classmates cruelly add oddball to his collection. After dreaming about a Yiddish Genie who advises him to embrace his passion and seek his life's poipose, Selig embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Feeling weighted down by his vocabulary slips, he climbs a tree and carefully attaches them to the branches. Fantastically and fittingly, several of them blow into the hands of a poet who is struggling for the right adjectives to finish his verse. Selig realizes that his mission is to bestow his word wealth upon others. He tosses out luscious to accentuate a baker's wares, halts an argument with harmony, and invigorates an elderly man with spry. He grows up to find personal fulfillment and even true love. The author shares her own affection for language through the descriptive, lyrical text, italicizing particularly delectable but possibly unfamiliar terms and defining them in a two-page glossary. Potter's folk-art paintings echo the story's whimsy and set the action in an idyllic-looking, early-20th-century past. An inspiring choice for young wordsmiths and anyone who cherishes the variety and vitality of language.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 2-4. Some people collect shells or stones; young Selig collects words. Whenever he hears a new one he likes, he jots it down on a slip of paper and stuffs it into a convenient pocket, a sock, a sleeve, or a hat. When you're a kid, such eccentric behavior doesn't go unnoticed, and soon his classmates have given him a new name, "Wordsworth," and a new word to add to his collection, oddball. Ouch! But with the help of a friendly genie, who calls him "Voidsvoith, a lover of voids," Selig finds his life's purpose and romance, to boot. Potter's signature naive-style art is light and comical, while Schotter's words are a lovely celebration of the power and the music of language. A glossary of Selig's favorite words--from aflutter to windmill--adorns the book's endpapers. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Now there once was a boy named Selig who had two dual loves. First of all, he loved words. He loved how they sounded in his ears and fell off the tongue. Second, he loved collecting. And what better to collect than the thing you love best? Problem was, Selig started getting bogged down by the sheer weight of the words he carried with him. One day, after receiving a dream telling him to find his purpose in life, Selig goes off into the world. He hasn't gone far before he starts pinning the words in his pack onto the branches of the nearest tree. Before long a poet stops by and through sheer accident happen to pluck exactly the word he needs from the wind-swept tree's branches. Suddenly, Selig knows what he was born to do. What good are words if they sit around unused? By lobbing the right words in the right direction, Selig is able to improve the fortune of others. And by locating a gal with as great a gift for music as he has for syllables, Selig is perfectly content thereafter.
Can I be forgiven for thinking this book was a non-fiction biography when I first picked it up? It kind of looks like one, doesn't it? Even after reading a couple of pages I was convinced that this book was some kind of picture book retelling of a real poet's life. Yeah, not so much. Schotter, best known before now to my mind for, "Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street" has tapped into an interesting idea here. Words. The playthings of poets, writers, and critics alike. I'll confess that this book can be seen as an acquired taste. Some kids will need to take some time so as to fully understand what it is that Schotter is saying here. As she deftly mixes a kind of magical realism with her otherwise realistic plotline, "The Boy Who Loves Words", is going to resonate best with those kids that already understand how cool words can be. They'll be the ones who flip to the back of the book and devour greedily the Glossary of Selig's favorite words sitting there. The story is certainly amusing, but unless the reader has a clear sense of how cool words can be, it may well fly over their heads.
Giselle Potter was an ideal illustrator to pair with Schotter on this tale. Once you've seen Potter's work, you don't forget it. Moreover, she's a perfect complement to the author's gentle loonyness. The words in this book are actual printed scraps that float and fly around Selig's head like so many beautiful butterflies, just begging to be caught. I was more than a little intrigued by the Rabbi genie that appears to Selig in a dream. Scotter and Potter (saying their names together fast) between them have placed this book in a kind of Lower East Side New York (or perhaps it's Brooklyn). If Selig is Jewish then of course the genie would be speaking with a Yiddish accent. I don't know exactly when or where the book is taking place, but wherever it is it makes for an enjoyable ride.
Though not a book for everyone, "The Boy Who Loved Words" is a contemporary up-and-coming writer title. Which is to say, future wordsmiths will find comfort in Selig's tale and maybe be convinced to start collecting their own eclectic terms. In Selig's own vocabulary you can label this book savory, full of gusto, truly luscious, and tremendously spry.
This book should come with word fridge magnets!