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)