Hooway for Wodney Wat

Title Hooway for Wodney Wathooway

Author Helen Lester

Illustrator/Photographer Lynn Munsinger

Publisher and Year Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: Rodney Rat is a rodent who cannot pronounce his r’s, therefore he is forced to call himself Wodney Wat. All the other rodents at school make fun of Wodney for his speech impediment, and Wodney therefore is very shy and does not have any friends. One day, a huge capybara joins their class, and she is much bigger, smarter, more competitive, and scarier than all the other rodents. Wodney gets his name drawn to be the “Simon Says” leader in P.E., and he becomes very nervous about what the capybara will do to him. Wodney’s speech impediment comes in handy, however, because the capybara takes everything Wodney says literally—for example, instead of “raking the leaves” the capybara actually tries to “wake the leaves” and gets very frustrated when she is unable to do this task. Eventually, Wodney tells everyone to go “west,” and instead of sleeping, the capybara begins walking West and is never seen again.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  Although there is really only one type of species present in this book (rodent), this book goes into detail about the different types of rodents that exist. Each rodent also has a different gender and body type. The language used in this book is simple, but students would have to understand the difference between literal and figurative language in order to get some of the dialogue and jokes used in this story. Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 6.49.25 PM

Interdisciplinary Connections: Hooway for Wodney Wat is focused on a rat with a speech impediment. This book would be a fantastic resource for students who also have speech impediments or any other disability that is apparent to others. Hooway for Wodney Wat could be read to those students (or the whole class) in order to show that all students are different. There are various body types, shapes, sizes, and “quirks” that make each student unique. These differences should not be put down, but instead students should recognize how special their peers are and build them up during tough times.

Other Information: Helen Lester has written numerous books, each featuring animals as the main characters. Hooway for Wodney Wat was a children’s choice book in seventeen different states! I read this book because a friend recommended it, and I, in turn, strongly recommend it to others. Not only are the illustrations bright, but the story is humorous and features a good lesson.

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