Hello dears 🙂 I’m delighted to be wrapping up the blog tour for The Wild Book today, a book that was first published in Mexico and recently translated into English!
From one of Mexico’s foremost authors comes an adventure story of a boy who goes to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have a supernatural power all their own.
Juan is looking forward to spending the summer having adventures with his best friend when he gets terrible news: not only are his parents separating, but he has to go live with his strange uncle Tito, who lives in a rambling home with three cats and about one million books. Shy and wary, Juan starts to explore Tito’s library, which is unlike any Juan has ever seen: the books are arranged in strange sections like “Motors That Make No Noise,” “Cheeses That Stink But Taste Delicious,” and “How to Govern Without Being President,” and some of them seem to change location each time you look for them. In fact, Tito tells him that a book finds a reader when it’s needed, and not the other way around.
Soon, Tito lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a Princeps Reader, to whom books respond in a very special way, and Tito needs his help finding a special volume called The Wild Book, which has never allowed itself to be read. Juan is joined in the quest by his little sister and the pretty girl who works at the pharmacy across the street, and together they battle the nefarious Pirate Book, which steals words out of existing stories. Over the summer, with the help of his new friends, Juan learns all sorts of secrets about world classics from Alice in Wonderland to The Metamorphosis, and overcomes his fear of change and the unfamiliar.
“People take to their beds to recover from an illness. That’s what I did, and my medicine was reading.”
This was a delightful middle grade adventure! It reads like a classic childhood favourite, with all the magic and whimsy you would expect from the likes of Roald Dahl or Lewis Carroll. Uncle Tito actually reminded me a little of Uncle Monty from the second Lemony Snicket book, though Tito is slightly more of a caricature.
The Wild Book is a book lover’s dream. I flagged so many quotes that just capture the way I feel about books so perfectly. I would almost describe this book as The Shadow of the Wind for kids – a magical quest through a labyrinth of books – so if you loved that, chances are you’d enjoy this one as well! It might be middle grade but I think it appeals to all ages. I also feel like there might have been a really cool reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… but I may have been reading too much into it!
As well as being delightfully whimsical, this book also covers important topics. I feel like this would be a really helpful book for children/teenagers whose parents are going through a separation; I really liked how it portrayed the confusion of still loving a parent who has left but also feeling angry with them.
And finally, a note on the translation by Lawrence Schimel. I thought it was really well done, as the book was super easy to read and had a lovely flow to it.
I would recommend this one to adults and children alike! As the author himself said: “Every book has a spirit. That spirit searches for its reader – its favourite, ideal, absolute reader”. So if you like the sound of this one, go ahead and let it find you!!
To hear what other readers thought of this book, check out the earlier stops on the tour!
What are some of your favourite childhood books? Let me know in the comments! x