The Wild Book

by Margarita Engle

Newbery Honor-winner Margarita Engle tells her most personal story to date, a glowing portrait in verse of her Cuban grandmother as a young girl struggling with dyslexia.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544022751
  • ISBN-10: 0544022750
  • Pages: 144
  • Publication Date: 01/07/2014
  • Carton Quantity: 48

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About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book
    Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them?

    But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new day. And when her family is threatened, it is what Fefa has learned from her wild book that saves them.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    The doctor hisses it
    like a curse.
    he repeats—some children
    can see everything
    except words.
    They are only blind
    on paper.
    Fefa will never be able
    to read, or write,
    or be happy
    in school.

    It sounds like an evil wizard’s
    prophecy, dangerous
    and dreadful,
    but Mamá does not listen
    to the serpent voice
    of the hissing doctor.
    She climbs in the wagon,
    clucks to the horse,
    and carries us home
    to our beautiful green farm,
    where she tells me to follow
    the good example of Santa Mónica,
    patron saint of patience.

    Mamá murmurs
    with a suffering sigh—who
    ever heard of such an impossible

    She refuses to accept
    the hissing doctor’s verdict.
    Seeds of learning grow slowly,
    she assures me.
    Then she lights a tall,
    slender candle,
    and gives me
    a book.

    I grow anxious.
    I pretend that my eyes hurt.
    I pretend that my head hurts,
    and pretty soon
    it is true.

    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

    Think of this little book
    as a garden,
    Mamá suggests.
    She says it so calmly
    that I promise I will try.

    Throw wildflower seeds
    all over each page, she advises.
    Let the words sprout
    like seedlings,
    then relax and watch
    as your wild diary

    I open the book.
    The pages are white!
    Is this really
    a blank diary,
    or just an ordinary
    filled with frog-slippery
    tricky letters
    that know how to leap
    and escape?
  • 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

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