“The Wild Book” by Juan Villoro— Boy and Uncle

Villoro, Juan. “The Wild Book”, translated by Lawrence Schimel, Restless Books, 2017.

Boy and Uncle

Amos Lassen

Juan Villoro is one of Mexico’s most popular author and in “The Wild Book” he tells the story of a boy who goes to live with his book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers.

Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer was not going to be a good one. His parents separated and Juan is sent away to his strange Uncle Tito’s house for the entire summer. Uncle Tito is a strange recluse who drinks fifteen cups of tea a day, and lives inside a very large and mysterious library.

As Juan becomes used to his new life among teetering, he notices that the books move on their own. He shares this with Uncle Tito, who lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a “Princeps Reader”, which means books respond magically to him, and he’s the only one who can find the elusive, never-before-read Wild Book. This is an adventure story about books, libraries and reading as well as being the first book that Villoro wrote for children.

Juan learns about the power of stories when he explores his uncle’s library of shape-shifting books. Lawrence Schimel has translated Villoro’s gorgeous prose. The story can be read on several different levels, has a wonderful cast of characters and is written in a style that all can enjoy. Perhaps that is why I have refrained from calling it a book for young adult readers. It is a book for everyone. In effect, this is book about the power of books and it is a very enjoyable reading experience.