We are self-confessed lovers of words here in GatheringBooks. And so it’s no wonder that I thought of the boy in this book as my kindred.

On Oddballs and Gifts. I felt deeply for this boy named Selig – who has a very unusual collection. While others gather shells, stones, books (oops, that’s me), stamps, ancient scrolls, refrigerator magnets from all over the globe – Selig collected words.

Selig loved everything about words – the sound of them in his ears (tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them when they percolated in his brain (stirring!) and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).

Whenever Selig heard a word he liked, he’d shout it loud, jot it down on a slip of paper, then stuff it into his pocket to save. Such a collector! Selig’s pockets positively brimmed with words. He stuffed new ones inside his shirt, down his socks, up his sleeves, under his hat.

Not surprisingly, Selig’s predilection made him an oddball in the eyes of kids his age who named him Wordsworth. It is always heartbreaking when the things that make us stand out and special are the very same ones used to pierce the core of our beings. Both his parents are rightfully worried about Selig and wondered about what his future would be like.

Life’s Meaning and a Sense of Purpose. It was Selig’s – oops Wordsworth’s dream which turned everything around. A wise genie spoke to him in his dream and told him the following words which I felt were just beautiful:

“Oddball? Feh! You are Voidsvoith, a lover of voids. Already you have vhat people search their whole life for – an enthusiasm, a passion. Vhat you need now is a poipose, a mission.”

Yes, this book does have its own voice as you can see, its own taste, and sound, and feel. My heart is filled as the reader follows Wordsworth on his life’s journey, seeking for this elusive purpose – while continually being enchanted with the smell of words and its yummylicious goodness as they roll down his tongue. Whether Wordsworth discovered his purpose, his life’s mission, I shall leave for you to find out.

I’ve always considered the ability to find the word that would paint the exact shade of emotion: the nuance of joy or the texture of pain – as a wonderful gift. And Wordsworth has this song in his heart with all these lovely words forming melodies – as they whistle symphonies and crunch and crackle along with its crisp cascade of well-formed phrases and aptly-enunciated sentences. It makes me think of a concealed, clandestine, destined-to-be-burnt box of letters that form an entire life and whisper sweet-nothings that may never come to pass. There is power in that – and such intimacy that would make one’s eyes water – because there are moments when words are all there could ever be.

Teacher Resources and Links. I was able to find quite a number of resources for teachers who may want to introduce this in their classrooms. Random House has created this downloadable pdf link that would allow the teacher to make curriculum connections across language arts, music, social studies. It even has a printable word pouch that is just beautiful. More teaching ideas could also be viewed in this weblink by Random House.

The Boy who Loved Words by Roni Schotter and Pictures by Giselle Potter. Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, 2006. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

Parents’ Choice 2006 Gold Award Winner. AWB Reading Challenge Update: 104 (35)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 114 of 120

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “Luscious, Delectable Letters: The Boy Who Loved Words

  1. Pingback: Wordsworth, the Boy who Loved Words « weorð

  2. Fats Suela

    Oh gosh! I love Giselle Potter. Glad to see she illustrated this one. I, too, felt deeply for Selig. It is such a strange thing indeed to collect “words” and fill your pockets with them. But to each his own. Do what makes you happy. And if it all comes down to saying a word like “onomatopoeia” then so be it. =)


  3. It is a ‘delicious’ book, Myra. I have used this, & just suggested it to a teacher, along with Natalie Babbitt’s Search for Delicious, another book, but longer, about words & finding their true meaning. Thanks for all your wonderful words about the book, & that link, which I didn’t know about!


    • Hi Linda! I just reserved Natalie Babbitt’s book in our library! Hopefully I can still feature it before our bimonthly theme ends in mid-November. 🙂


  4. Have to get this book! The illustrations are great! 🙂


  5. Pingback: October Round Up! «

  6. Pingback: End of Year Book Survey 2012: The Myra Edition «

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