The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (5 stars)

The Wild Book

by Margarita Engle

Publish date: March 20, 2012

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547581316
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 398,540
  • Age range: 10 – 14 Years
This is based on the stories that Margarita Engle’s grandmother told of her childhood.  It is written in free verse form.
Fefa struggles in school because of reading and writing.  The words do not seem to make sense to her.  She says that they slip and jump away like frogs.  The doctor says that she has word-blindness and will never be able to read or write.  Fefa’s mother disagrees and gives Fefa a blank book to fill with her own words.  Fefa begins writing in it nearly everyday.  Through this, she begins to feel more confidence in her reading and writing.  Outside of her reading and writing, there are other dangers about Fefa.  Cuba is a lawless place where bandits are stealing children for ransom.  Everyone is scared of the possible danger.  When the family is threatened, they do not have enough money to pay for all of the ransoms, but Fefa’s book helps her solve the family’s troubles.  She becomes the heroine, even with her struggles in reading and writing.
My thoughts:
This is a very touching novel.  I happen to love novels written in verse, so I came into it biased.  The voice of the young girl comes through perfectly.  I can hear the struggles of developing words, sounding out syllables, and then the growing boldness of her choices.  I root for her when she has to read things out loud, and feel bad when she describes frustrations and loneliness.  This was a fairly predictable book, but it does not detract from the language and flow.  It’s also such a quick read that I don’t know why someone would put it down or not pick it up to begin with.  I’ve given it 5 stars because I really can’t think of a reason to not recommend this to my students.  I think the advanced readers will enjoy it just as much as the struggling ones.  Bravo Margarita Engle!


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