The Wild Book

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Young Adult -

Juan Vil­loro, Lawrence Schimel (Trans­la­tor) Yon­der (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $17.99 (240pp), 978-1-63206-147-8

Books are por­tals to other worlds. In The Wild Book, a young boy learns about the power of sto­ries when he ex­plores his un­cle’s en­chanted li­brary of shape-shift­ing books. This is a beau­ti­fully writ­ten ode to the in­her­ent magic of books and read­ing.

Juan’s sum­mer is prob­a­bly go­ing to be bor­ing. His par­ents have sent him to stay with his strange un­cle, Tito. Ex­plor­ing Tito’s house, how­ever, Juan dis­cov­ers that there’s more to the li­brary than he thought. The books are talk­ing to him. Their sto­ries ap­pear in his dreams. They seem to fol­low him ev­ery­where. Juan turns out to be a Prin­ceps reader, a book-tamer with unique pow­ers.

With the help of the beau­ti­ful girl who lives across the street and his lit­tle sis­ter, Juan sets off to hunt The Wild Book. This book is elu­sive and maybe even dan­ger­ous. Tito tells Juan that it’s never been read. As Juan fol­lows the book’s trail, he also ex­plores fa­mous works by Western writ­ers, like Alice In Won­der­land and The Meta­mor­pho­sis. Juan won­ders, “In a cer­tain way the li­brary was a for­est: the pages of the books came from trees. How would my he­roes have got­ten out of a writ­ten for­est?”

Trans­lated by award-win­ning Lawrence Schimel, Juan Vil­loro’s prose is lovely and clear. Vil­loro, “Mex­ico’s Updike,” is his na­tion’s most pro­lific, prize-win­ning writer. The Wild Book is no ex­cep­tion within his canon. Each of the twenty-one chap­ters is ac­com­pa­nied by Eko’s stun­ning wood­cut-style il­lus­tra­tions, de­pict­ing books with teeth and pages fly­ing.

De­serv­ing a place be­side clas­sics like The Phan­tom Toll­booth and Half-magic, The Wild Book is a time­less cel­e­bra­tion of read­ing.

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