Friday, April 14, 2006

Review: The Boy Who Loved Words

The Boy Who Loved Words, by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Giselle Potter, is a wonderful picture book for children (and adults) who appreciate the beauty of language. We learn of our hero's passion on the very first page:
  • "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!)."

Selig collects his words (represented beautifully by print cut-outs in the illustrations) and finds nothing wrong with his hobby until kids began to tease him at school ("'Hey, Wordsworth,' kids would giggle, 'Here's a word for your collection--oddball!'"). Upset, Selig dreams of a Genie who tells Selig he IS a Voidsvoith and needs to find a purpose for his words. So Selig hits the road, "with a pillow and blanket, apples, honey, cream soda, and his entire collection of words."

Not surprisingly, Selig finds many people need words--from a poet, to a baker, to quarreling neighbors. In the end, he finds true love in Melody and together they send language and music into the world:

  • "You too may find yourself lucky if, one day, while you are thinking or writing or simply speaking, the perfect word just seems to come to you. If so, you'll know that Selig is near. And on special days, if you feel like humming or suddenly bursting into song, you'll know that Melody is with him. 'Upon my word!' you may say. 'How lucky I am.'"

Potter's illustrations are beautifully colorful with an old-world feel and the newsprint words scattered throughout are inspired. A glossary of words for the curious child is included at the end of the text.

The Boy Who Loved Words would be a great read-aloud companion to Cathryn Falwell's Word Wizard. Both picture books extol the beauty and utility of the word.