Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Room of Wonders

Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) looks at The Room of Wonders by Sergio Ruzzier.

Writing or editing one of my picture book stories is my favorite way to spend a day. And although I am still anxiously waiting for one of my submissions to attract the attention of an agent, I never let a written or silent rejection dampen my spirits. “Okay,” I say, “so Ms. Dream Agent didn’t connect with my humorous story about the dog with the poorly timed hiccups, maybe I’ll submit again and see if she prefers my Candy Land meets Willy Wonka counting book.” My point is that I keep trying. However…

a number of years ago, I let the words of one person turn me away from what I love.

I decided to send one of my manuscripts to a professional editor for a sizable fee. The story was close to my heart and took the better part of two years to complete. When the critique came back, I was devastated. The editor began her letter briefly telling me how much she enjoyed reading my story. She followed this with pages of the harshest criticism I ever read. Some comments mocked my work. What’s the point, I thought. Maybe she’s right. That story file stayed closed on my computer because I let the editor’s harsh words fill me with doubt.

In the years that followed, I took many writing seminars, attended writing conferences, joined a critique group, and kept writing. One morning, I thought about the characters from that story. I remembered how much I enjoyed being with them. I opened the file with a fresh heart, once again believing in myself, ready to put my years of gained knowledge to work. This brings me to the touching and sensitively illustrated picture book, The Room of Wonders.

Title – The Room of Wonders – view on Amazon HERE.

Written and illustrated by – Sergio Ruzzier

Published by – Francis Foster Books – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York 2006

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  collections, confidence, and inner-happiness.

Opening – Pius Pelosi was a pack rat, and he collected things. On long walks through the forest, he found twisted roots, interesting twigs, leaves, feathers, and sometimes a skin left behind by a snake.

Amazon Review – Pius Pelosi, a young pack rat, is a born collector who fills a
room with his marvelous findings, attracting curious visitors. His very favorite item, a plain gray pebble, is given a place of honor, which baffles everyone. They all ask why he would keep such an ordinary stone. Bowing to public opinion, Pius gets rid of it, but in doing so, he discovers he’s lost much more than just the pebble.

Why do I like this book? In picture books, the main character should change, improve, or grow in some way. Sergio Ruzzier clearly illustrates this when he presents us with a completely lovable, little critter named Pius Pelosi. Pius loves to collect treasures, but when visitors viewing his collection question why he keeps an ordinary gray pebble – the very first and most favorite treasure in his collection, Pius believes his visitors must all be right. He succumbs to their feelings and tosses out the pebble, a decision that destroys his love for the remaining treasures. Then one day… Pius discovers another gray pebble and remembers why he liked his first gray pebble. Happiness returns and he begins to collect treasures again. Children reading this story will learn to stand up for what they love, believe, or treasure. Hopefully, they will never allow the negative opinions of others to overshadow their own precious feelings.

Learn about Sergio Ruzzier HERE.

Find more picture book reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

Activities with children – Ask children what items they like to collect. Can they relate to Pius Pelosi in The Room of Wonders who turns items he discovers along his path into treasures? What do they believe would make a good collection?

If the items in a child’s collection are small, you could help them make a shadow box to display their treasures. Shadow boxes can be purchased at craft stores or upcycled from shoe boxes.

10 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Room of Wonders

  1. What a beautiful story about the wonders around us. And, a great story about following your own heart and not succumbing to the comments of others. I’m glad you shared more about how Pius Pelosi found his joy again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so familiar with Sergio’s later work, but how lovely to be introduced to something he created a decade ago. He has some very precious sensibilities in his work that I love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This book has long been a favorite of mine. I still remember how I felt the first time i read The Room of Wonders. I loved the book so much, I kept renewing it. I love stories in which the main character has strong convictions. Pius may have let others change his mind about the little gray pebble that started his collection of treasures, but what matters is that he returned to what he believed.

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  3. What a beautiful story. That a mere pebble is at the heart of Pius’ love of collecting I find especially touching, as my own desk is literally littered with pebbles I’ve collected from many wondrous spots.

    Keep writing – and resisting the urge to heed the words of one editor. I recently was ready to completely rework a much-loved, and much-revised story, only to find out that this story was awarded an honorable mention in a state-wide new voices competition. Trust your heart & heed not the nay-Sayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I, too, collect pebbles, shiny stones, pinecones, and particularly curly, dried leaves along the way. So naturally when I read this book, I felt a kinship to Pius.

    It’s easy to take the words of an editor to heart, especially after paying that editor for their thoughts. But as I’ve learned over the years, every editor has his or her own taste, and just because one or several people don’t like something doesn’t mean every person will feel that way. It’s just a matter of picking myself off the ground after a rejection and sending my story back out into the world.

    Congratulations on the honorable mention! I hope we’ll be reading that book soon.

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  5. I’m not familiar with this older work–thanks for pointing it out. The last two moves, the movers asked why a few boxes were so heavy–because they were full of rocks! Thinking of a story idea right now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember the last time my family moved. As I recall, I had a good number of those book-filled, rock-heavy boxes myself! I had to smile when you added you were thinking of a story idea relating to your heavy boxes. On average I say, “Hmmm. Sounds like a picture book idea!” at least two or more times a day. I think you should write about it.

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  7. I’m so glad you picked yourself and that story up again. It’s a testament to your strength as a writer and your passion for writing. I love your selection this week! I haven’t seen this book, so I’ve got it on order at the library through LINK+. And I ordered the new one called “This Is Not A Picture Book.” Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your kind words, Jilanne, I admit though that the harsh words of that editor sadly caused me to turn my back on a story I loved. The good news is that I returned to it with extra years of writing experience. That made a large difference to the story.

    I’m glad you reserved The Room of Wonders from your library. Both the story and the pictures are quite enchanting. I read “This is Not a Picture Book” last month and quite enjoyed it! I think I need to check it out again.

    Best wishes!

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