Young reader review: The Wild Book

This week Isabel, aged 11, takes us to Mexico for her fourth book review of fiction in translation. Over to you, Isabel…

Title: The Wild Book

Author: Juan Villoro

Translated from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel

Rating: ⅘


Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer is going awfully. First his parents split up; and then he’s sent to his slightly eccentric Uncle Tito’s house where his only company is his uncle, his uncle’s three cats, Obsidian, Ivory and Domino, and mountains and mountains of books!

After a few weeks, Uncle Tito tells Juan a secret that will change his life; books can move on their own, and when he lends a book to his new friend Catalina from the pharmacy, he also notices that the story adapts to whoever reads them!

Juan suddenly realizes that life in his uncle’s library isn’t so bad after all. And to top it all off, to his uncle’s delight, Juan is a legendary Princeps Reader who attracts books and is one of the only people who can tame the Wild Book. But can they catch it before the evil Pirate Book?

Why I liked the book:

The Wild Book is such a brilliant book with an amazing ending. Juan seems so ordinary that the plot fits in perfectly with his character. The emotions that he feels throughout the story feed into you so that the author doesn’t need to write how he feels, because you already know, for example, when Juan’s parents split up, you know he must be feeling upset, confused and annoyed to have to stay with his odd uncle, because the story expresses that really well.

The last page was the best though, as it wraps up the story brilliantly and really gets you thinking. And because the story is about books, it makes you think that as long as you keep reading, anything is possible.

Overall, I rate The Wild Book a ⅘.


The Wild Book is available in the US from Restless Books/Yonder (and has just come out in paperback!) and from the UK from Hope Road