Middle Grade Fiction / Age Range: 10–14
The Wild Book is the YA debut of one of Mexico’s foremost authors: a wondrous adventure story of a boy who goes to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers.
Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer is off to a terrible start. First, his parents separate. Then, almost as bad, Juan is sent away to his strange Uncle Tito’s house for the entire holiday! Who wants to live with an oddball recluse who has zigzag eyebrows, drinks fifteen cups of smoky tea a day, and lives inside a huge, mysterious library?
As Juan adjusts to his new life among dusty shelves, he notices something odd: the books move on their own! He rushes to tell Uncle Tito, who lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a Princeps Reader, which means books respond magically to him, and he’s the only one who can find the elusive, never-before-read Wild Book. But will Juan and his new friend Catalina get to The Wild Book before the wicked, story-stealing Pirate Book does?
An unforgettable adventure story about books, libraries, and the power of reading.
Shy and uncertain, Juan learns from his uncle what makes him special, and how to embrace his uniqueness.
Featuring both a child of marital separation and a blind character, The Wild Book offers an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the important issues of divorce and disability. Braille books are a major plot point, and there is no line drawn between the disabled and abled: we are all just lovers of stories.
The Wild Book is a YA debut by one of Mexico’s best-known authors. It has sold over 1.3 million copies in Spanish.
“And that’s how my time in the labyrinth of books began “
Juan is sent to stay with his Uncle Tito after his parents separate and his mum needs a little time on her own. Uncle Tito’s house is quite literally full of books, from floor to ceiling…”a library is a collection of souls”
Uncle Tito is an eccentric with an absolute passion for books and reading…..but he is searching for one elusive book and he feels Juan will be able to find it as he is super special. With Juan in the house he is no longer lonely and they forge a special bond.
Juan is at first a little unsure, he gets lost in the house and books, carrying with him a little bell at all times. He then meets Catalina, a girl in the nearby pharmacy and together they bring life to the house and Uncle Tito…..will they find The Wild Book?
I know this is a middle grade book but oh my, I absolutely adore it. It captures the love of books and how they have a different meaning to each reader. It is so full of marvellous descriptions that I could write a whole post just using quotes…it is truly special and with its magic, will appeal to book lovers everywhere and of all ages.
“Every Book is like a mirror, it reflects what you think.”
Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book and this is my honest, unbiased review.
You can buy a copy here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Villoro is Mexico’s most prolific, prize-winning author, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter. His books have been translated into multiple languages. Several of his books have appeared in English, including his celebrated 2016 essay collection on soccer, God Is Round (Restless Books). Villoro lives in Mexico City and is a visiting lecturer at Yale and Princeton universities.8
Lawrence Schimel is an award-winning author and translator of books. He lives in Madrid and New York City. HopeRoad, set up in 2012, specialises in writers and writing from and about Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Their aim is
to give a voice to writers and stories that might otherwise be missed by the mainstream book trade.
This is a beautifully written ode to the inherent magic of books and reading. … 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.’
Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, Five-Star Review
‘For me, when it comes to good writing, texts are alive and living among us, no matter the genre. Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book — a story in which books themselves are characters — is an especially good example…. In Uncle Tito’s library, the books choose their readers. So Villoro’s novel chose me…. Equal parts ecology and magical realism, Villoro explores the nature of literature and reading. The best stories are wild, after all…. Villoro entrusts young readers to care for and sustain the magic — and in doing so, takes them seriously. But the novel is also generous with its adults…. Villoro’s novel illuminates why YA literature has such a large adult readership. Even as we age, or perhaps especially then, our purpose is not to tame our life stories — but rather to allow them their wild lives.’
Kristin Van Tassel, Los Angeles Review of Books
‘This quirky tale – originally published in Mexico – is a delight, giving books a life of their own. Before long, you’ll see your reading list in a whole new way…. The Wild Book has a classic, magical feel, but it’s also grounded in reality, as we see Juan coming to terms with his parents’ separation and his feelings for Catalina, the girl who works in the local pharmacy…. A must-read for book-lovers everywhere.’
BookTrust, Five-Star Review
‘Villoro’s lighthearted and timeless voice makes it easy to suspend any disbelief and revel in the bookish magic.’
Caitlin Kling, Booklist
‘A rewarding and bewitching story which goes to the heart of why books are so powerful and incredible…. The Wild Book is a paean to the potential of books. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, this, quite simply, is a must-read. In some ways a Library of The Shadow of the Wind for younger readers, The Wild Book luxuriously riffs on how books can be mirrors and windows…. Delicate, fine and surprising turns of phrase pack this novel, originally published in Mexico, mixing moments of humour with splashes of original beauty. The smooth and seamless translation is a delight, as are the glimpses into another culture…. Apart from the glorious celebration of stories, I also loved how The Wild Book movingly and sensitively navigates a teenage boy’s changing relationship with some of the adults in his life…. The emotional sensitivity of Villoro’s novel is nuanced and subtle. Perfect for intrepid book explorers who relish getting lost inside the pages of a book, The Wild Book is a dazzling adventure you’ll not want to miss.’
Zoe Toft, Playing by the Book
‘Rich on multiple levels, a cast of colorful characters, plots and twists galore, and plenty of humor, author Juan Villoro weaves his words with a style that will delight older kids, start to finish, making The Wild Book a wild ride, indeed.’ Kendal A. Rautzhan, The Port Huron Times Herald
‘This book is awesome. It is very interesting; there are just so many books, and it strikes on so many topics. It is also a great adventure story, one that is even believable because the author’s name is also Juan, so that is really funny. I like how the Wild Book acts – the books are characters in this story, too, and some of them become good friends with Juan and help him. This is a great story for anyone who loves books like I do!’
Raifl – Age 9, Kids’ Book Buzz, Five-Star Review
‘Brings to mind the same ecstatic thrill I felt reading The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, Fahrenheit 451 as a teen, and Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore as an adult. I’m absolutely envious of the young readers who are about to discover the magic of Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book.’
David Gonzalez, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)