The Boy Who Loved Words, by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Giselle Potter, is a wonderful picture book for children (and adults) who appreciate the beauty of language. We learn of our hero’s passion for words on the very first page:
“Selig loved everything about words–the sound of them in his ears (tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them when theypercolated in his brain (stirring!), and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).”
Selig collects his words and puts them at any place possible. In his pockets, hats, etc. He finds nothing wrong with his hobby until kids begin to tease him at school. “‘Hey, Wordsworth,’ kids would giggle, ‘Here’s a word for your collection–oddball!‘”.
Upset, Selig dreams of a Genie who tells Selig he is a Voidsvoith and needs to find a purpose for his words. So Selig hits the road, “with a pillow and blanket, apples, honey, cream soda, and his entire collection of words.” Tired, he decides to rest. On finding a tree, he carefully puts his words on each branch and then snuggles up on one of the branches himself.
At night, a lost poet, in search of words, arrives under that tree. He had been looking for words to describe the moon. Just then a mighty wind blows and 3 of Selig’s words fall into the hands of the poet.
In the morning, Selig wakes up to find the poet using his words to compose a poem.
melted like a lemon lozenge
in the licorice sky…
The poet thanks him for his words and asks Selig’s name in order to dedicate his poem to him. “They call me Wordsworth”, says Selig with a smile.
It is then, Selig realises the purpose of his life-To Spread words!
Not surprisingly, Selig finds many people need words–from a baker to quarrelling neighbours.
In the end, he finds true love, Melody, a mellifluous singer and together they send language and music into the world:
“You too may find yourself lucky if, one day, while you are thinking or writing or simply speaking, the perfect word just seems to come to you. If so, you’ll know that Selig is near. And on special days, if you feel like humming or suddenly bursting into song, you’ll know that Melody is with him. ‘Upon my word!’ you may say. ‘How lucky I am.'”