Lester, H. (1999). Hooway for Wodney Wat. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Rodney Rat is the main character in the book who calls himself "Wodney Wat." Wodney has a speech impediment and can't say his r's. Wodney is very insecure about his speech problem and is humiliated at school around all of his classmates. Wodney didn't like to speak at all. During lunch he ate alone and during recess he hid out in his jacket. Wodney was a very sad rodent. One day, a new student comes to school who intimidates ALL the other rats. What makes her so intimidating? For one, she is extremely smart and puts the other rodents to shame in class. Wodney became scared to death about what the new student would do when she heard him talk. He was afraid she would hurt him! During recess one day, Wodney is the leader of the game "Simon says." Wodney's life turns around in a split second during this game. Not only does he "come out of his shell," but he also becomes popular! How, you say? You have to read Hooway For Wodney Wat to see what happened with Wodney and the new student Camilla.
First of all, I really enjoyed reading this fantasy book. The "wats" in the story talk to each other, play games, and go to school; therefore we know that it is a fantasy story. Children have speech impediments all over the world, and this book is a great way for students to gain confidence in themselves and for them not to be ashamed about their speech problem. I would definitely recommend this book to any teacher, especially Speech Pathologists who work with speech students all day long. This book could be used in any grade level in elementary school, P-5.
The illustrations in this picture book were probably done in either colored pencils or watercolor, or a mix of both. Page bleed is used on several pages of the book as well. This is where the illustration looks as if it bleeds off the page.
The literary element that stands out to me the most in Hooway For Wodney Wat is conflict. I feel that Lester used two types of conflict. One being person-against-self and person-against-person. Wodney was very insecure during the majority of this story, so this would be an example of person-against-self. Wodney faced problems at school with his peers and they made fun of his because of the way he talked, therefore we see person-against-person. The climax is also a crucial element in this story because Wodney's life turns around at the climax of the story.
Lester used third-person-sympathetic point of view. As you read this story, you notice that the author tells the reader how a couple of the characters feel. Consonance is used several times in the story with names of characters. For example, Wodney Wat (Rodney Rat), Camilla Capybara, Hairy Hamster, Minifeet Mouse, and Grizzlefriz Guinea Pig, Some examples of onomatopoeia are seen in this story as well. Some of these include "whap," "nnnnrrrr," and "boo." Personification is used in the story with the rats talking, going to school, playing games, etc.
BIG questions - What if you had speech problem and were treated the way that Wodney was treated? How would you feel and what would you do? Why does Camilla not understand Wodney while playing "Simon Says?"