Wondrous Rex by Patricia MacLachlan

Wondrous Rex

Patricia MacLachlan, Author

Emilia Dzubiak, Illustrator

Katherine Tegen Books, Mar. 17, 2020

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Dog, Animals, Words, Imagination, Stories, Writing, Friendship, Magic

Opening: “I am seven years old, and my life is soon to be full of “wondrous” happenings. “Wondrous” is a word I learned from my aunt Lily, a writer of books.”

Synopsis:

Grace’s aunt is a writer. She works with words every day and teaches Grace interesting words like “melancholy” and “delirious.” But Lily is often “flummoxed” by her writing. Her stories don’t go anywhere, her desk is a mess, and her writer’s group can’t help.

So Lily posts an ad for an assistant: A writer of books needs an assistant, a coach, a helper, for inspiration and some magic!

The next day, Grace opens the door, and there is Rex: a Labrador retriever who will change Grace’s life, and Lily’s. The word “amazing” is an everyday word for Rex, who inspires Lily, and helps Grace find the words to write her own story.

Newbery Medal-winning author Patricia MacLachlan has written a magical and funny tale about the joy found in using words, sharing stories, and loving a wondrous dog named Rex.

Why I like this book:

Patricia MacLachlan has written a magical and charming story about seven-year-old girl, Grace, who loves big words but isn’t sure how to use them to write a story. However, her teacher has confidence in her. What fun it would be to be Grace who has an Aunt Lily, who is a writer. But Grace quickly discovers that even writers have their moments coming up with story ideas.

And then there is Rex, a smart dog, who knows things and can keeps very good secrets. He appears to inspire Aunt Lily and Grace. Readers will fall in love with Rex, as does everyone in the story. Rex is central to the story. (*No Spoilers)

Wondrous Rex introduces children to the process of writing stories and poetry. They also get a peek at how author’s interact and support each other in their “writer’s groups.”  The story is also peppered with a few large words like, “flummoxed and wondrous.” I would have just loved this story as an eight-year-old,  because I was always writing poems, stories and plays, with no one to guide me.

The book has twelve chapters with 88 pages, perfect for older elementary students learning to tackle early middle grade books or reluctant readers.

Emilia Dzubiak’s pen and ink illustrations are lively, entertaining and perfect for text.

Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless books for young readers, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal. Her novels for young readers include My Father’s Words, The Poet’s Dog, Word After Word After Word, Kindred Souls, and The Truth of Me.  She is also the author of many beloved picture books, a number of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily. She lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library book.

Wumbers

Wumbers9781452110226_p0_v1_s260x420WUMBERS

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Author

Tom Lichtenheld, Illustrator

Chronicle Books, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5 – 8

Themes: Words, Numbers, Humor

From the Book Jacket:  What do you get when you combine a word and a number?  A wumber!  Playing tribute to William Steig’s C D B!, book crea8ors Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have wri10 this s2pendous book that is perfect 4 readers in kindergar10 and up.

Why I like this book:  Rosenthal has written a very creative and clever concept book for children.  It’s words created with numbers.  There is no specific story, just lots of fun word puns with letters substituted with numbers.  Lichtenheld’s illustrations are colorful and give lively visual clues of what is being said.  The characters on each spread have conversations that kids will have fun decoding.  And some of the word/number plays are a bit challenging and will help kids learn a new language.  After all, many kids today are using coding messages as they text messages to their friends.  Good left/right brain entertainment!  For example:

“He pinched my belly but10!”   With Dad responding “I think you’ll sur5.”   (They just do this 4 a10tion.)

He lost his first 2th.  He is el8ed!

We have the 2na salad and the pl8s.  What have we 4gotten?  The 4ks!

Resources:  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld  have created a teacher’s guide for WUMBERS.   They are the NYT best-selling authors of Duck! Rabbit!, as well as many other children’s books.