Monday, October 15, 2012

The Wild Book

Engle, Margarita. (2012). The Wild Book. New York: Houghlin Milcourt. ISBN 978-0-547-58131-6
A novel in verse about a young girl growing up in turn of the century Cuba who struggles to overcome her dyslexia or word blindness.
Margarita Engle paints a picture of turn of the century Cuba and her granmothers life as a girl in this dangerous time in beautiful verse.  Fefa who struggles with dyslexia uses a blank book given to her by her mother and time and patience to slowly overcome her learning disability.  Scattered throughout the story of Fefa's frustrations with words is a history of violence and fear suffered by the people of Cuba.  Engle enbodies the love of verse from this time period with poems such as "Fly to the Truth of Dreams". 
I don't understand
the whole thrilling verse,
but I love the way poetry
turns ordinary words
into winged things
that rise up
and soar (lines 11-17)

"A beautiful tale of perseverance."—Kirkus, starred review
"Readers will be enchanted."—VOYA
"[A] lyrical glimpse of early twentieth-century Cuba."--Booklist

"Engle’s writing is customarily lovely."--Publishers Weekly

"The idea of a wild book on which to let her words sprout is one that should speak to those with reading difficulties and to aspiring poets as well."--School Library Journal

"[A] remarkable, intimate depiction of Fefa's struggle with dyslexia; Engle is masterful at using words to evoke this difficulty, and even those readers unfamiliar with the condition will understand its meaning through her rich use of imagery and detail."--Bulletin


Children can investigate the work Margarita Engle at her website:
Read other wonderful books by M. Engle including The Poet Slave of Cuba and The Surrender Tree.
Listen to the author read a sample of the book at

History connection:
Explore Cuban history, especially Race War of 1912 at

English connection:
Students can write a story in verse

Geography connection:
Make a map of Cuba.  Have students label elements from the book.

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