Another random find, Judy Sierra and Marc Brown’s Wild About Books was displayed on the same shelf with Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear and We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems, the reviews of which I have posted a while back. I had to go back for it the second time around because picture books are costly! They’re worth every penny, though, because picture books are truly a good investment. Wild About Books is another feature for our bimonthly theme Books About Books and the River of Words.
Books on a Wild Ride
It started the summer of 2002,
When the Springfield librarian, Molly McGrew,
By mistake drove her bookmobile into the zoo.
Wild About Books received the E.B. White Read Aloud Award (Terrific Book) and it was well-deserved because stories in rhyme are simply fun to read! When I first picked up the book, I didn’t realize that the story was told in verses. I got excited when I purchased the book and read the front jacketflap. While I prefer narratives, I enjoy a good verse once in a while. Wild About Books is one of them!
I have never seen a bookmobile, but it would be nice to see one once in a while. I like the idea of a bookmobile because it “brings” books to people, making these books (and reading!) more accessible to the public. In the story, however, the public refers to the zoo animals! Imagine how riotous it would be!
Love for Books, Love for Reading
In a flash, every beast in the zoo was stampeding
To learn all about this new something called reading.
Aside from a good laugh, I enjoy reading picture books that promote literacy. Wild About Books does just that. Zoo animals may be domesticated but what do they know about books and reading?! Animals don’t read… or do they?
Marc Brown’s gorgeous, vibrant paintings complement the lively, animated storytelling of Judy Sierra. All illustrations were in the form of two-page spreads, and one of my favorites was that part where all these animals rushed toward Molly, curious about the book in her hand and her reading.
There’s That Special Book for You
The pandas demanded more books in Chinese
Molly filled their requests, always eager to please.
She even found waterproof books for the otter,
Who never went swimming without Harry Potter.
Wild About Books gives a “full-blast” celebration of the joy of reading. While it’s not THE definitive book about books, it’s up there in the list. Even with its simple storyline (simple but fun!), Wild About Books manages to tug at every person’s heart, readers and non-readers alike.
Whether or not you read books, I’m quite certain there’s that particular book for you that would engage you to read. It can be as bold as the classics or as simple as a computer magazine. Do you find yourself wishing that everyone likes to read as much as you do? I do, occasionally. Reasons such as “reading is not for me” or “I always fall asleep when I read” are unacceptable, in my humble opinion. I truly believe that there’s really a special, magical book for every single one of us. You just gotta look for it. Books love to be discovered and, if you don’t come to them, they will come to you. (I think I just made a Griffin and Sabine reference there! Hehe.) Just wait and see, and you’ll find that book. Maybe then you’ll realize just how much fun reading can be.
References to Dr. Seuss, Among Other Books
On the last page, Judy Sierra and Marc Brown write,
“This book is for our favorite doctor, artist, poet, fun concoter: Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991.”
While I was browsing through book covers of Wild About Books, I came across Judy Sierra’s website. She gives a short explanation on what inspired her to write the book. What caught my interest, however, was the list of Dr. Seuss references that she made in Wild About Books. Here are those references, as listed on her website:
- Molly McGrew is the “Springfield librarian.” Dr. Seuss grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his father was on the board of the city zoo. (You can read about this and the childhood of Dr. Seuss in my review of The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull.)
- Molly has the same last name as the hero of Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo, Gerald McGrew (which conveniently rhymes with “zoo”).
- At the beginning of the book, there is an illustration of Molly reading The Cat in the Hat to the zoo animals. (The title was even mentioned in the actual verse.)
In addition to these Dr. Seuss references, Wild About Books also mentions a few popular book titles. These include Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Crictor, Goodnight Moon, and The Wizard of Oz.
Teacher Links and Resources
I found a bunch of activities and lesson plans that teachers can use to discuss Wild About Books to their students. There is a lot of resources, to be honest, and I decided to share a few of them. Scholastic provides a Wild About Books Discussion Guide and a list of related activities that can be done in the classroom. Teachers@Random (House) provides a downloadable PDF file that includes worksheets for children to fill out. TeachingBooks also provides a variety of useful links that teachers can go to for more lesson plans and classroom guides. In addition to these links that I shared, you can also type “Wild About Books activities” on Google and you will find documents that automatically downloads to your computer when you click them. There is truly a whole bunch of activities you can find for this picture book. I hope you find those that are most useful to your classroom setting.