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The Wild Book

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  313 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them? But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she sa ...more
Hardcover, 130 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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6th out of 12 books — 20 voters
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Community Reviews

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Review of an advance copy:

This book, featuring Margarita Engle's lovely free-verse, is based on the life of Ms. Engle's grandmother. 11-year-old Fefa (Josefa) has dyslexia. The local doctor calls it "word blindness" and suggests that Fefa will never be able to read or write. Fortunately, Mamá has faith in her daughter and insists on patience and perseverance. And, despite the teasing from her siblings and the doctor's harsh verdict, Fefa also has an indomitable spirit. Her persistence begins to
Fefa cannot read because she suffers from "word-blindness" or dyslexia. Her mother gives her a blank book to write her own words. Scrawling her wild words into the book gives Fefa growing confidence and provides her insight that saves her family at a crucial moment.

Based on Engle's grandmother's childhood experiences growing up during the chaos after Cuba's fight for independence from Spain.

This novel in verse contains so many wonderful images. One of my favorites:


No one in my family
Based on the history of the author's grandmother, The Wild Book, written in verse, recounts the dangerous conditions that were evident during the early part of the twentieth century in Cuba. Bandits combed the countryside looking for easy targets...children. Parents found ransom notes to exchange their children's lives with money.

Even though Fefa had 'word-blindness' (what we now know as dyslexia), through the encouragement of her mother and the patience of her brother-teacher, she learned to r
This book is about the author's grandmother who grew up in Cuba in 1912. She has dyslexia and tries to get her words out with poems and uses this to tell her story. I really like the idea of this book and the subject matter but to be honest I got kind of bored about half way through and lost interest. Finally I got tired of seeing it on my shelf so I decided to finish it. Not sure who I would recommend it too? It was okay, I'd give it 2 1/2 stars if we could give 1/2 stars.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Dobrez
I love Engle's verse novels of Cuban history and this one is based on her grandmother's experience growing up with "word blindness" or dyslexia as we know it today. A blank book, a gift from her mother, helps the girl have a place to explore language. A wild book. My sixth grade girls keep raving about this at our book club so I had to get to it. They are right. It is lovely.
Novel in verse about the author's grandmother, who struggled with dyslexia (word blindness) in the tumultuous days of Cuba int he early 1900's. She must deal with being considered stupid, surviving the unkind ways of her many brothers and sisters, and thwarting child kidnappers. Not the most engaging novel in verse, I'd say. The most vibrant incident iw shen the narrator's brother plays with a gun while drinking rum and injures himself. The farm manager, who we are suppose to consider sinister n ...more
Becky B
Fefa struggles to read. The doctor says she has world blindness and she'll never be able to read, but Fefa's mother does not give up. Mamá gives Fefa a blank book to help her collect words. Fefa isn't sure about the book. She finds reading so hard she isn't sure she likes words. But when her brother is injured and becomes her tutor, some of the slippery words start to become a little more manageable, and eventually Fefa is able to save the entire family with her reading.

I absolutely love Engle's
Laura Salas
I'm a fan of Margarita Engle's work, and there is plenty of lovely writing in this story about Fefa, a young Cuban girl with dyslexia (call word-blindness in Cuba in the early 1900s). Her struggle and eventual victory in learning to read--and, more, to love to read--is about 90% of this book. There is a little bit about a threat to Fefa's family from kidnappers, and Fefa's ability to read saves the day. The reason my rating isn't higher for this book is that I wanted more story. Engle has a beau ...more
My Review: The Wild Book is fiction inspired by stories told by the author’s grandmother Fefa, who at a young age struggled with dyslexia. But she found ways to overcome this disability with help from her mother who gave her a book with blank pages to write down her thoughts.

Fefa wrote about how her classmates and siblings taunted her, they laugh and mock her and her brothers frighten her with lizards, bugs and spiders. The teacher was too busy to give her extra help and her mom was always there
Today having a learning disabilty is more manageable in a lot of ways but in decades past there was a lot of misconceptions that people had when it came to them. Children who had them were often considered to be stupid and hopeless.

This is the story of author Margarita Engle's grandmother, Fefa. Fefa has dyslexia which was known as "word blindness" at the time she lived. The doctor who her mother had taken her to said that she would never read nor write. However Fefa's loving mother never gave
Sep 04, 2012 Brandi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Middle School
The Wild Book is a novel in verse by two-time Pura Belpré winner, Margarita Engle. This fictionalized account of her grandmother’s struggle with dyslexia takes readers to Cuba, 1912. While the book is fiction, it is inspired by the stories Engle heard from her grandmother. This story is rich with history, emotion, and determination.
Fefa, short for Josefa, is about 11 years old when she is diagnosed with “word-blindness” by the village doctor. He tells her mother that she will never be able to
Told in poems, this is the story of Engle’s maternal grandmother and her struggle with dyslexia. Known as Fefa, her grandmother was diagnosed with “word blindness” and told she would never read or write. Luckily, Fefa’s mother has an idea. She gives her daughter a blank book to fill with words, as if she is scattering wildflower seeds on the ground. At first Fefa’s words are hesitant and stilted, like seedlings. But steadily her writing and reading improve as she learns to take her time and gain ...more
This is one of the choices for our novels in verse unit. It needs a little background knowledge building about Cuba and its history, but it's very good! It's also a good introduction to discussions about civil rights in other countries. I like that it incorporates personal difficulties such as dyslexia with global challenges such as war and occupation. Our kids may not be dealing with war on our own soil, but they do deal with news all around the world that affects them. I also like the multicul ...more
This is based on the stories that Margarita Engle’s grandmother told of her childhood. It is written in free verse form.
Fefa struggles in school because of reading and writing. The words do not seem to make sense to her. She says that they slip and jump away like frogs. The doctor says that she has word-blindness and will never be able to read or write. Fefa’s mother disagrees and gives Fefa a blank book to fill with her own words. Fefa begins writing in it nearly everyday. Through this,
As she so often does in her books, Engle draws on her Cuban heritage, telling the story of her own grandmother's struggle with literacy. When she is ten, Fefa's doctor diagnoses her with word-blindness (as dyslexia was called in the early days of the twentieth century). Unable to understand the words she sees on the pages of books, Fefa is understandably embarrassed and frustrated. But her mother gives her a blank book and tells her to use it to write down whatever she can. At first, Fefa can ma ...more
Lovely. Absolutely lyrical language. Set in Cuba in the early 1900's during the US occupation, the book centers around a young girl who has "word blindness" (now known as dyslexia). Her mother gives her a blank book to write in, and the girl sets out to fill it with "wild things". As she writes about her life, she slowly learns to read. Written in free verse, the book is based loosely on the experiences of Margarita Engle's grandmother. What really makes this book stand out for me is Engle's att ...more
I requested a copy of The Wild Book through AmazonVine to read with my daughter.

This beautifully story is told in verse. It's the story of eleven year old Fefa who is dyslexic. The story takes place in Cuba in 1912. Fefa's mother gives her a book with blank pages to write her thoughts in.

Throw wildflower seeds
all over each page, she advises.
Let the words sprout
like seedlings,
then relax and watch
as your wild diary
p.6, The Wild Book

As Fefa writes in her 'wild book', she describes how
Christine Turner
Fefa struggles with words. She has "word blindness", or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them?

But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky a
Amanda (Born Bookish)
I just have to express my absolute LOVE of this cover! The illustrations are just so colorful and beautiful. Now for the actual story: this is the third book I’ve read by Margarita Engle and unfortunately none of them have lived up to the first.

The Wild Book is about eleven-year old Fefa, who at the beginning of the book finds out she has “word-blindness” or what we now know as common day dyslexia. The book is about Fefa’s struggle and how she works to overcome it. It’s set in the Cuban countrys
FTC Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle

Summary: Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them? But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean wh
This historical fiction story, told in verse, is about Fefa, an 11-year-old girl who lives with her family in Cuba during the early 20th century, after the wars for independence that took place in many Latin American countries during the late 19th century. Fefa struggles with reading and writing due to dyslexia, which, at the time was called word-blindness. Through the encouragment and patience of first her mother and then an older brother, Fefa's reading and writing get better. She even saves t ...more
One of the best things about The Wild Book is Margarita Engle's keen eye for detail. The slim verse novel is loosely based on the life of Fefa, Engle's grandmother, and it's clear that Engle paid close attention to the stories that her grandmother told.

The Wild Book details the life of a girl with dyslexia in the uncertain world of 1912 Cuba, and the descriptions of the everyday details of that time and place are startlingly observant. When she speaks, for instance, of encountering during a fam
This is the first book I've read by Margarita Engle, but having done so it certainly will not be the last! The Wild Book tells the story of dyslexic Fefa who is tormented for her "word-blindness". Through the gentle coaxing of her mother and her own force of will (plus a lot of practice!) Fefa slowly works to improve her reading and writing.

The format of the book (free verse) only accentuates Fefa's limited positive interaction with print, but conveys such emotion that nothing is missed. Based m
Thanks to netgalley I can get through a lot of books. Now this one has been out for awhile, but I'm trying to clean up my kindle and do a better job of reviewing.

I love novels in verse. They are books that truly allow an author to show their real talent. Each word is carefully selected to paint the most beautiful story, without over telling it.

Word-blindness strikes our little girl down. Dyslexia to the rest of us while seen as a negative she doesn't give up. Her mother gives her a blank book
Monchel Jones
"The Wild One" was a very eye catching book. This story was about a little girl named Fefa and she struggles with words. She has word blindness and the doctor says she won't be able to read or write. But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new da ...more
This story is told in the first person narrative from the protagonist's point of view. Fefa is ten years old and living in Cuba when the story begins. Cuba has just won its independence from Spain following the War for Independence. Fefa struggles with "word blindness," or dyslexia. In addition, the volatile political situation in her country provides anxiety and requires caution on the part of her family and all of its members.

The story is told in the form of free form poetry through the use of
Okay, I like the idea of this book and as an adult, I really enjoyed it. However, I don't think that the audience the author intended this book for is actually the audience for this book.

Fefa has dyslexia and struggles with reading and writing throughout the book. I could see a book with that premise being really good for a child who struggles with reading and writing. However, with the way this book was written, I think it'd be extremely challenging for a child with dyslexia to read this book.
Marathon County Public Library MCPL
The Wild Book is the story of Newberry Honor-winning author, Margarita Engle's Cuban grandmother's struggle with dyslexia. Engle relates her grandmother's story in verse. From stories she was told as a child, Engle presents a fictional account of what it must have been like for her grandmother, Fefa, to grapple with dyslexia. Engle explains how Fefa is distressed and ashamed of her inabilities to read and write until her mother presents her with a blank book and encourages her to learn to create ...more
Really lovely story about a dyslexic girl learning to read in 1912 Cuba. Theme of the power of poetry and words is quite strong. Background family story is sweet and there is just enough tension to make the action move quickly.

I would say, "This was a very nice book."

Rec for anyone who like poetry, for teaching about learning something that is difficult; LD students
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Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.
More about Margarita Engle...
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“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!” 2 likes
“Danger is a chain...passed from one wounded child to the next. We must stop the danger by breaking the chain. We must learn how to stay safe and be kind.” 1 likes
More quotes…