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.”
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.
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*Reviewed from a library book.