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The Boy Who Loved Words

The Boy Who Loved Words

4.0 1
by Roni Schotter, Giselle Potter (Illustrator)

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In this Parents' Choice Gold Award–winning book, Selig collects words, ones that stir his heart (Mama!) and ones that make him laugh (giggle). But what to do with so many luscious words? After helping a poet find the perfect words for his poem (lozenge, lemon, and licorice), he figures it out: His purpose


In this Parents' Choice Gold Award–winning book, Selig collects words, ones that stir his heart (Mama!) and ones that make him laugh (giggle). But what to do with so many luscious words? After helping a poet find the perfect words for his poem (lozenge, lemon, and licorice), he figures it out: His purpose is to spread the word to others. And so he begins to sprinkle, disburse, and broadcast them to people in need.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The glossary in this book is the star character, rather than a page tucked into the back. Unusual words like aflutter, jibber-jabber, rhapsody, voracious, and tintinnabulating are defined on the endpapers. They show up in the story of Selig, a boy who collects words, making him feel like a lonely oddball until he finds a purpose for his collections of words: he passes them out, leaving words on tree branches so a poet could write about the moon melting like a "lemon lozenge in the licorice sky." There are words to help sell a baker's scrumptious bread and ultimately words that set Selig's heart aflutter over a singer named Melody. There is an old-fashioned sweetness to the flat, softly colored illustrations. The story offers a good message about children who appear different but have much to offer. Collecting words with interesting sounds and meanings is an appealing idea. 2006, Random House, Ages 4 to 7.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Schotter blends magical realism with a tongue-tingling narrative to create an ode to the power and purpose of language. Selig is passionate about words-their sounds ("tintinnabulating!"), their taste ("tantalizing!"), and the way they "moved his heart." An avid word-hoarder, he delights in discovering new terms, recording them on paper scraps, and stowing them in pockets. Unable to comprehend their son's "strange predilection," his practical-minded parents worry about his future, and his classmates cruelly add "oddball" to his collection. After dreaming about a Yiddish Genie who advises him to embrace his passion and seek his life's "poipose," Selig embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Feeling weighted down by his vocabulary slips, he climbs a tree and carefully attaches them to the branches. Fantastically and fittingly, several of them blow into the hands of a poet who is struggling for the right adjectives to finish his verse. Selig realizes that his mission is to bestow his word wealth upon others. He tosses out "luscious" to accentuate a baker's wares, halts an argument with "harmony," and invigorates an elderly man with "spry." He grows up to find personal fulfillment and even true love. The author shares her own affection for language through the descriptive, lyrical text, italicizing particularly delectable but possibly unfamiliar terms and defining them in a two-page glossary. Potter's folk-art paintings echo the story's whimsy and set the action in an idyllic-looking, early-20th-century past. An inspiring choice for young wordsmiths and anyone who cherishes the variety and vitality of language.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A charmingly prolix tall tale of a boy so word-obsessed that he collects new words on slips of paper. They bulge from his pockets, float around his head and fill his world. Classmates nickname Selig "Wordsworth" and give him a word for his collection: "oddball." The discovery that his purpose in life is to share his carefully chosen words with others leads to success and love. And, "if, one day, . . . the perfect word just seems to come to you . . . you'll know that Selig is near." Schotter's words are enlivened by Potter's distinctively naive figures, all placed in settings in which words and labels are scattered about in a way that invites close inspection and promotes purposeful inquiry. It all adds up to an *exultant encounter, chockablock with tintinnabulating gusto (*see tantalizing glossary appended). A gift to precocious children and teachers as well. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.26(w) x 10.31(h) x 0.37(d)
AD780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

About the Author, Roni Schotter
Some of Roni Schotter's favorite words are cozysnuggleruckusrutabaga, and potato. She is the author of numerous books for children, including Mama, I'll Give You the World, an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Book Award Winner; Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, an NCTE Notable Trade Book in the Language Arts; F Is for Freedom, recipient of the Washington Irving Award; Hanukkah!, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; Captain Bob Takes Flight; and Captain Bob Sets Sail. Roni Schotter lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

From the Illustrator, Giselle Potter
I drew a lot as a kid because that is what everyone around me did. Everyone in my family was an artist and they all included me in their art. Both my grandparents were painters and my grandfather always invited me (and everyone who visited his studio) to add to his paintings. My dad made sculptures with found metal in the garage next to our house and the best way to talk to him was to think of something to make in his garage with him.

My parents had a puppet theater company called The Mystic Paper Beasts, with large papier-mâché masks and puppets. Some of their shows were stories like The Emperors Nightingale, the story of Queen Isabella of Portugal, the life of Toulouse-Lautrec, or one about the circus called Manimal Zoo. Until we were teenagers my sister, Chloe, and I performed and traveled with them, mostly doing street theater in the piazzas of Europe. My mom helped me a keep all my pictures, stories, and tokens from our travels glued into a journal that I still use for inspiration now. When missing school became more disruptive for me and my interest in being a normal teenager grew, I quit.

After high school I went to Indonesia by myself and studied Balinese miniature paintings. I realized painting is what I’m happiest doing and I could actually go to college where that’ s all I would do. So I went to Rhode Island School of Design. I spent my last year of RISD in Rome where I painted lots of pictures of saints.

My first illustration job was a drawing for the New Yorker and soon after Chronicle Books published my book of saints, Lucy’s Eyes and Margaret’s Dragon. Anne Schwartz offered me my first children’s book Mr. Semolina-Semolinus, and I have illustrated over twenty since including The Year I Didn’t Go To School, about the experience of traveling in Europe with my parents’ puppet theater.

My latest endeavors with Anne Schwartz and Lee Wade are The Boy Who loved Words (Spring, 2006) and The Littlest Grape Stomper (Spring 2007). At the moment, I am working with them on a version of the 19th century poem Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

Now I live in the Hudson Valley with my husband, who is a furniture maker, and our two daughters Pia and Isabel, who are just discovering for themselves the endless joy of making pictures.

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The Boy Who Loved Words 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great story with so many teaching tools you could incorporate. Great for adjectives/writing, great for dictionary skills, etc. You might learn some new words yourself!! Enjoy