cover image The Boy Who Loved Words

The Boy Who Loved Words

Roni Schotter, , illus. by Giselle Potter. . Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83601-5

How do you spell enthusiasm? Selig, a boy driven by his desire to collect words, surely knows the answer in this quirkily inspirational picture book. Rather than play ball or hang out with friends, Selig prefers jotting down words that appeal to him on slips of paper (his "pockets positively brimmed with words"). The other kids think he's an oddball, and nickname him Wordsworth. But Selig receives affirmation from a genie with a Yiddish inflection who appears to him in a dream and tells the boy to find a "poipose" to match his passion. On his ensuing travels, Selig finally finds ways to literally "spread the word," from his copious collection, for the greater good. Schotter's (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street) text, though slow in spots, whimsically conveys Selig's zeal for vocabulary building. Potter (The Year I Didn't Go to School ) joins in the fun by sprinkling her stylized earth-tone watercolors with collaged words in various fonts. Scenic background details and characters' clothing suggest 1950s New York City, giving this volume a pleasingly old-fashioned flair. Endpapers feature an extensive glossary to tickle young word-fanciers. One design quibble: the italic typeface used in the text to highlight newly discovered terms is sometimes difficult to read. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)