What happens in this book?
A boy, Jerome, collects words in every situation: big words, little words, words he reads, words he doesn’t know the meaning of but are marvelous to say, etc. Then his word collection (in the form of scrapbooks) gets all jumbled up. He enjoyes the mixture of them: “Words he had not imagined being side by side”. Then he drags his collection of words up a big hill (in a bag on a wagon) and empties the collection into the wind. He enjoys watching the children below collecting them.
My 2-year-old son really likes this book. It manages to present a lot of interesting words for him to contemplate while still telling a story. He is very interested in the pictures. (Being obsessed with all manner of vehicles, his favorite pages are the ones with the wagon, of course.) There’s just enough text on each page to keep the story going along without boring him, even though the target age is higher. I don’t think he understands the metaphor aspect yet, but he appreciates the ideas anyway.
This book is wonderful. The text and illustrations are fabulous, and of course I love the topic. I like the message of how words connect people, too. The only thing that bothers me is how Jerome throws a bunch of paper around town. I know it’s a metaphor, but kids maybe don’t.
What Do I Do With This Information?
Buy this book if you’d like your kid to have a love of words in any form – written, song, poetry, rap, whatever. The target age is 4-8 years old, but I bet it’ll be loved long past 8.
Buy This Book
Amazon Affiliate Link: The Word Collector
|Author||Peter H. Reynolds|
|Illustrator||Peter H. Reynolds|
|Publisher||Orchard Books | Scholastic|
|Target Age Range||4-8 years|
|Gender bias / Sexism||Jerome is the only named character, so of course all the pronouns used are “he;” however, there is a very good distribution of female characters throughout (and a few that are a bit ambiguous).|
|Racism / Cultural Appropriation||A good distribution of races included throughout, and some obvious cultural markers, like a girl’s hijab. The main character is a black boy, which is fairly rare to find.|
|Ableism||Passively ablist – everyone is able-bodied; a few people wearing glasses|
|Spiritual / Christian||N/A|
|Respectful (vs. manipulative / behavior modification / etc.)||Very respectful toward children. There is an agenda. In fact, the inside of the back cover has a message from the author: “Reach for your own words / Tell the world who you are / And how you will make it better.” But of course, it’s an agenda that’s right up my alley…|
|Interactions with Parents||N/A|
|Realistic||Very realistic illustrations, except perhaps for the one of Jerome pulling such a heavy wagon at such a steep angle with very little securing the wagon’s load. Reality would have that load sliding off – at least!|
|Pro-creativity / Artsy||Definitely in favor of artistic expression.|
|Interactivity (touch, flaps, batteries, etc.)||Illustrations and text only|
|EQ||High marks for the page that talks about how some of the most simple words were also the most powerful, which shows Jerome saying, “I understand,” “I’m sorry,” “Thank you,” and “You matter” to various individuals. The text is otherwise focused on Jerome’s relationship & feelings about words.|
|Labelling (both good & bad)||No labelling.|
|Body positive||Almost everyone is depicted as thin or very thin.|
|Language||Doesn’t rhyme; perfect English; English only.|