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The Wild Book

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  408 Ratings  ·  101 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 ...more
Hardcover, 130 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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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
Cindy Dobrez
Dec 08, 2012 Cindy Dobrez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, fiction
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.
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
Jul 20, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 30, 2016 Kris rated it really liked it
This book is a beautifully written free verse novel, and I felt like I had a better grasp on the struggle people with dyslexia have after I read it. I also learned about the situation in Cuba in the early 1900s, which I was completely unaware of before. I gave it four stars instead of five because I don't know that the format and lyricism will be as appealing to the young age of the readers it is geared toward as it is for me as an adult.
Margartia Engle writes the most beautiful novels in verse. In The Wild Book she draws on her family history to tell the story of Fefa who is dyslexic. I think this alone makes the book worth having on the shelf for the one or two kids who struggle with dyslexia and need to see themselves and their struggles in the pages of a book. Fefa is bound and determined, but constantly discouraged by her lack of progress, and I think she could be a very relatable character. I can’t speak to how accurately ...more
Christine Turner
Jan 10, 2013 Christine Turner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juv-fiction, dyslexia
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
Jan 03, 2013 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
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 ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Brandi rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2012 Beverly rated it it was ok
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
Aug 13, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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,
May 18, 2012 Mymcbooks rated it it was amazing
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
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
CCIP Middle School
Mar 20, 2016 CCIP Middle School rated it really liked it
Shelves: socioeconomic
Fefa comes from a poor family in Cuba, where she lives with her parents, brothers, and sisters on their farm. Fefa is dyslexic and the small town's doctor tells her there is nothing to do that will help with her "word blindness." Because of her dyslexia, and because her family can not afford to giver her additional help with reading (like paying for a tutor), Fefa struggles in school. She does not have many friends and she dreads going to class.

Using what resources she has, Fefa's mother gives F
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
Feb 01, 2012 Samuel rated it liked it
Shelves: children
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
Feb 06, 2012 Bookworm rated it liked it
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
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
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
Laura Salas
Sep 19, 2012 Laura Salas rated it liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
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 ...more
Monchel Jones
May 01, 2012 Monchel Jones rated it it was amazing
"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 ...more
Jul 22, 2012 AnnieM rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2015 Erica rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2013 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: verse, glgb2013
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
Apr 21, 2012 Doret rated it liked it
A little girl in Cuba named Fefa is diagnosed with Word Blindness in 1912, long before the learning disorder became known as Dyslexia. Fefa is determined to see the words that won't still still on the page. She decides to keep a book and write in it daily. This novel set all in verse is filled with all of Fefa's thoughts and feelings.

Fefa's voice is strong from the start. Engle's writing is pure beauty.
The others laugh
They always laugh
When I am forced to read
Out Loud
they mock
my stumbling v
Jun 28, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it
A story told in verse about a young girl who struggles with dyslexia. The author used her grandmother's stories about her childhood growing up on a farm in the early 1900s during the time following Cuba's wars for independence from Spain.

What most impressed me about this book was the feel for time and place the author gave me as she created the setting for this tale. The honesty with which she deals with the young girl's struggle with reading is great. I think it is relatable and explained so w
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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.
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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!” 3 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
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