Monday, April 02, 2012

The Wild Book

The Wild Book. Margarita Engle. 2012. Harcourt. 144 pages.

I really do love Margarita Engle's verse novels set in Cuba. They almost always impress me. I love her poetry. I love the emotion behind the poems. The way she tells a story. The Wild Book is no exception. Set in Cuba in the early twentieth century, the heroine is based on Engle's grandmother. (I believe the novel is set around 1912?)

Josefa, or "Fefa", is our eleven year old, word-blind heroine. Her inability to read isn't from lack of focus or desire. More than anything, Fefa wants to be able to read and write. She's dyslexic at a time when no one really understood what that meant. Her mother gives her a present, a blank book, and tells her to practice, to take things slow, slow, slow. To keep trying. To not give up. And that is just what our heroine does. She writes--as slowly and carefully as she can--about her life. And it's an interesting time to be sure....since Cuba has won its independence from Spain and is being occupied by the United States...a time with many dangers and risks.


I memorize all the little
guess-me riddles
in my schoolbook:

A bird has a little white
treasure chest
that everyone knows
how to open
but no one can close.
An egg!

Why does an unlucky shrimp
swim backwards?
To return to a time 
before he lost his luck!

I dream up new riddles
and write them all down
in my wild book.

My slow handwriting
with its careful swirls
and loops
has almost grown 

Am I patient?
What has changed?

When I write riddles,
the pen in my hand
feels mysterious.

I feel as powerful
as a girl in a fairy tale,
a brave girl who climbs
dangerous towers
and sips water
from magic wells.

Is this how it feels
to be smart? (46-47)

Read The Wild Book
  • If you're a fan of Margarita Engle
  • If you're a fan of verse novels
  • If you're looking for historical fiction set in Cuba
  • If you're looking for books with dyslexic characters

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Suko 10:43 PM  

This sounds lovely and the cover is magical!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP