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.