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"We walked toward the part of the library where the air smelled as if it had been interred for years….. Finally, we got to the hallway where the wooden floor was the creakiest, and we sensed a strange whiff of excitement and fear. It smelled like a creature from a bygone time. It smelled like a dragon."

More than 1 million copies sold

Categories: FANTASY | CHILDRENS > Middle Grade

Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer is off to a terrible start. First, his parents separate. Then, almost as bad, Juan is sent away to his strange Uncle Tito’s house for the entire break! Who wants to live with an oddball recluse who has zigzag eyebrows, drinks fifteen cups of smoky tea a day, and lives inside a huge, mysterious library?

As Juan adjusts to his new life among teetering, dusty shelves, he notices something odd: the books move on their own! He rushes to tell 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. But will Juan and his new friend Catalina get to The Wild Book before the wicked, story-stealing Pirate Book does?

An unforgettable adventure story about books, libraries, and the power of reading, The Wild Book is the young readers’ debut by beloved, prize-winning Mexican author Juan Villoro. It has sold over one million copies in Spanish.

“With delightful notes of The Phantom Tollbooth, Villoro’s tale is perfect for any bibliophile…. Schimel’s smooth translation is reminiscent of tales like those of Kafka or Borges, and charming chapter-header artwork adds to the aura of wonder. Readers will learn, along with the characters here, that the best thing about books is that they are meant to be shared.”

—Stephanie Cohen, Booklist, Starred Review

“A summer visit unlocks a wonderful library in Juan Villoro’s magical tale…. Somewhere in [Juan’s uncle Tito’s] vast Borgesian stacks is a wild book that no one has ever managed to hold long enough to read. It becomes the quest of the summer to find this untamed volume, a pursuit made thrilling for Juan because he is joined in the hunt by a girl named Catalina, whom he adores. Translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel, The Wild Book is as quirky and infused with the love of books as Tito himself.”

—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

“Books are portals to other worlds. In The Wild Book, a young boy learns about the power of stories when he explores his uncle’s enchanted library of shape-shifting books. This is a beautifully written ode to the inherent magic of books and reading. … Translated by award-winning Lawrence Schimel, Juan Villoro’s prose is lovely and clear. Villoro, ‘Mexico’s Updike,’ is his nation’s most prolific, prize-winning writer. The Wild Book is no exception within his canon. Each of the twenty-one chapters is accompanied by Eko’s stunning woodcut-style illustrations, depicting books with teeth and pages flying. Deserving a place beside classics like The Phantom Tollbooth and Half-Magic, The Wild Book is a timeless celebration of reading.”

—Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, Five-Heart Review

“Published by Yonder, an imprint of Restless Books, the book is seamlessly translated by Lawrence Schimel, and it reads as compellingly as anything written for adults. In a summer at his strange uncle’s house, thirteen-year-old Juan discovers he is a ‘Princeps Reader’—a person who can bring out the magic in books, who can, in a sense, make them real … The novel is transfixing and emotional, and, for booklovers, it reads like the memoir of your imagined other self.”

—Rivka Galchen, Words Without Borders

“For me, when it comes to good writing, texts are alive and living among us, no matter the genre. Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book — a story in which books themselves are characters — is an especially good example.... In Uncle Tito’s library, the books choose their readers. So Villoro’s novel chose me…. Equal parts ecology and magical realism, Villoro explores the nature of literature and reading. The best stories are wild, after all.... Villoro entrusts young readers to care for and sustain the magic — and in doing so, takes them seriously. But the novel is also generous with its adults … Uncle Tito, changes and grows just like Juan, the teenage protagonist…. Villoro’s novel illuminates why YA literature has such a large adult readership. Even as we age, or perhaps especially then, our purpose is not to tame our life stories — but rather to allow them their wild lives.”

—Kristin Van Tassel, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Brings to mind the same ecstatic thrill I felt reading The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, Fahrenheit 451 as a teen, and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore as an adult. I'm absolutely envious of the young readers who are about to discover the magic of Juan Villoro's The Wild Book."

—David Gonzalez, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)

“This quirky tale – originally published in Mexico – is a delight, giving books a life of their own. Before long, you'll see your reading list in a whole new way…. The Wild Book has a classic, magical feel, but it's also grounded in reality, as we see Juan coming to terms with his parents' separation and his feelings for Catalina, the girl who works in the local pharmacy. And Tito is a wonderfully rich character, from his constant need to urinate to his obsession with creating literary recipes. A must-read for book-lovers everywhere.”

—BookTrust, Five-Star Review

A rewarding and bewitching story which goes to the heart of why books are so powerful and incredible. From exploring how the person reading a story changes the very fabric of the story being read, so that one book can mean quite different things to different people, to how stories help us navigate our lives, often providing opportunities to practise scenarios before we encounter them in real life, thereby giving us skills, confidence and resilience, The Wild Book is a paean to the potential of books. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, this, quite simply, is a must-read.”

—Zoe Toft, Playing by the Book

“Rich on multiple levels, a cast of colorful characters, plots and twists galore, and plenty of humor, author Juan Villoro weaves his words with a style that will delight older kids, start to finish, making The Wild Book a wild ride, indeed.”

—Kendal A. Rautzhan, The Port Huron Times Herald

“It’s so much fun. If you like books, if you like books about books, it’s great for anyone at any age… It’s like Shadow of the Wind or Mr. Penumbra “The Early Years”—it’s really fun!”

—Liberty Hardy, Book Riot's All the Books Podcast

“Yonder makes good on its promise of diverse offerings with its first titles, beginning this October with the release of The Wild Book, written by Mexican author Juan Villoro and translated by Lawrence Schimel. The middle grade novel is about a boy who goes to stay with his eccentric, book-collecting uncle, who takes him on a quest to find the infamous wild book that has never allowed itself to be read; it is illustrated by Mexican artist Eko.”

—Publishers Weekly

“This book is awesome. It is very interesting; there are just so many books, and it strikes on so many topics. It is also a great adventure story, one that is even believable because the author’s name is also Juan, so that is really funny. I like how the Wild Book acts – the books are characters in this story, too, and some of them become good friends with Juan and help him. This is a great story for anyone who loves books like I do!”

—Raifl - Age 9, Kids’ Book Buzz, Five-Star Review


Lawrence Schimel (New York, 1971) is a full-time author, writing in both Spanish and English, who has published over one hundred books in a wide range of genres. He is also a prolific literary translator. His picture books have been selected for the White Ravens from the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany and have twice been chosen for IBBY’s Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, among many other awards, honors, and Distinctions. His work has been published in Basque, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukrainian translations. He started the Spain chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators and served as its Regional Advisor for five years. He also coordinated the International SCBWI Conference in Madrid and the first two SCBWI-Bologna Book Fair conferences. He lives in Madrid, Spain and New York City.



The characters who live in this singular pool are musicians-fortune tellers, deranged readers, music teachers who see their rapture transformed by a crime… Seven stories that wager  on remembrance, on the unexpected, on varieties of love and the limits of passions, written with the usual lucidity and originality of Juan Villoro. Pools was published in Joaquín Mortiz in 1985.

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