The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter

*And just in time for upcoming National Poetry Month, in April!  boy-who-loved

     For young readers (and/or parents, teachers, caregivers) who hone a passionate predilection for spry, savory and scrumptious tales, which with real gusto (and giggles galore) celebrate the often-tantalizing (if not tintinnabulating) pulsing rhapsody of the harmoniously luscious poetry of WORDS, then have I got a stirring and swirling, exultant children’s picture book for you.

     Mellifluous!

     This story of young Selig – a word collector in both the literal and metaphorical sense – is chockablock with words, oh! delicious words. Celebrating the sounds, the tastes, the thoughts, and the feel of new words with which our young poet-hero comes into contact throughout this fascinating, full-of-cheer and life-embracing gem of a book, The Boy Who Loved Words is truly a celebration of the transformative power inherent in words … a festival-exercise saluting not only their intrinsic beauty – especially when strung together such as through the craft of poem-making – but also the mysterious ability in which words can, often unexpectedly, bring people together, “lucky people [who] have discovered and delighted in them.”

     Yes, the book is a bit ‘overdone,’ perchance teetering on that which one might describe as over-the-top ‘cheesiness,’ but hey – if the purpose here is to entice young readers with an accessible, artfully rendered story, simple enough in its celebration of language and a main character’s unyielding enthusiasm in sharing those words with others in his midst, then one would be hard-pressed to find, I dare suggest, a children’s book on par with Schotter’s insofar as unbridled inspiration borne of Wordsworth’s (Selig’s classmate-given nickname) boundless imagination and literary zeal.

     Plus, what other picture books out there feature a thickly Yiddish-accented Genie (“Djinn“) who escapes from a vase one evening at an unusual emporium, recognizing the young wordlover’s gift, and inspiring his life search for a mission in which to utilize this unique passion. For that matter, how many titles out there feature carefully collected words strewn in treetops, later to sprinkle down as poems – or dreams of scrumptious home-baked macaroons fresh from Mama’s kitchen?

     I do, with whole-hearted proclamation and exultant gusto, recommend this book for any lover of words, child and adult alike. Even taken on its own, the illustrations by Giselle Potter are a sight to behold. I enjoy the fashion in which Selig’s words, like organic ornamental design right at home among these pages, become part of the very landscape itself: an effect one must see to truly appreciate (here, words only do not do it justice).

     What are some books (children’s especially) others of you might recommend in the realm of playfulness of language and passion for vocabulary?

(Jonah Meyer, Circulation Department, Central Library)

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