The Boy Who Loved Words
By Roni Schooner; illustrations by Giselle Potter
Do you have a young reader in love with words? Do they use them with relish, ask what they mean, and pore through picture books looking for more? Then this book just may be a “tintinnabulation” treat for the both of you.
It’s the tall tale of a young boy that was in love with words; both with their sound and the sensation of words whose pronunciation mimicked their very meaning.
I think I’ve always loved picture books that truly celebrate language; books that don’t refrain from using words with children that enliven the mind and sort of mean what they sound like.
Take picture book author/illustrator William Steig. He’s a favorite of mine that perfectly melded words and images with no apologies given for a tantalizing usage of certain words in his stories!
In his “The Amazing Bone” and “Amos and Boris,” Steig employed words like odoriferous to describe villains. And how about phosphorescent to paint a picture of the sea? These words are populating the minds of 3-5 years olds when they soak up language like veritable sponges! Great!
Think of the word “gusto.” It’s by no means a delicate sound. No, ma’am, it’s filled with “brio.” Come to think of it, that’s another word that gives off the feel of its meaning too.
So, come meet the young boy named Selig! He’s a collector of …..words! And just in the name of full disclosure, the author Roni Schooner allows us in on a few of her own favorite words such as cozy, snuggle, ruckus, rutabaga and potato.
I’ve often wondered why we humans start collections of things. Surely, it’s not merely to possess. It’s something about the clocks, teaspoons or teapots that we collect that both soothes and excites us. And there is always one more to be added to the group; one more we want to pocket.
And, so it is with young Selig. He collects words. He loves the sound of them in his ear and their feel as spoken on his tongue. And each make his heart sense something.
While other children busied
themselves with bats, nets and
all manner of balls, Selig stayed
on the outskirts, always on the
periphery – listening and collecting
His parents are a tad concerned with Selig’s odd predilection with the collecting of words. Imagine a dad who is the soul of pragmatic behavior, selling sturdy shoes for a living, having a son who collects… words! How can this son of theirs ever find his way in a very practical world?
Called “Wordsworth” in school because of his passion for words, kids tease this duck out-of-water, and it makes for a lonely Selig.
But, a revelatory dream intervenes, where Selig determines from an imagined genie, a name for what he is. Selig is a wordsmith!
And thank goodness for people in love with words!
From collecting words, to his influence on a itinerant poet’s word selection that he uses when stymied in trying to find the perfect poetic proclamation for his verse, Selig discovers a new zest for life! And a reason for his zeal.
It was then that Selig realized
his mission. It was spreading
the word – sharing his words
For any child that is in love with words, or just someone that is just a smidge out of step with the crowd, this is a picture book that encourages both parent and child to practice patience, plus a belief in following the passion that causes excitement in one’s life, be it the mining of words or anything else that excites our imagination.
I think “The Boy Who Loved Words” is a bit of picture book encouragement to parents also to not so quickly dismiss that inner voice of enthusiasm your child displays for whatever it may happen to be..
After all, people that exhibit enthusiasm for anything in life are pretty hard to resist. Do you remember teachers that were in love with what they did? It, and they, stood out amid the ho hum and hum drum of the herd mentality. Even today, fitting in is the siren call to kids to “be like everyone else” at the risk of censure.
Eventually, our Selig finds the world of the wordsmith has a practical side in its use in marketing, as bakers love the idea of their crumpets being described as scrumptious and layer cakes as luscious. And his love of language even initiates “love at first listen” with a lass named Melody!
There are worse uses of one’s time than “gathering and scattering words on the wind,” allowing them to people and enrich communication in this very human search to reach other hearts.
Please let your young reader meet young Selig and, if you have one at home…rejoice and encourage a possible future choice of profession as wordsmith.
It’s a noble profession!
And, to give it the perfect parental nod, it won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award from the Parents Choice Foundation, founded in 1978.
Now that’s a stirring endorsement, folks!
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