Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester takes a disability and makes it an useful thing to have. Wodney uses his speech impediment to free his classmates from the class bully.
Wodney Wat’s real name is Rodney Rat. He is unable to pronounce his R’s correctly. Thus, Wodney Wat is how he pronounces his name. His speech disorder makes him shy.
One day, his class receives a new student. The new student, Camilla Capybara, announces to the class that she is bigger, meaner and smarter than anyone in the class. She stands taller and bigger than the other students. Camilla mistreats her classmates. She shouts out the answers to all questions asked by the teacher, Miss Fuzzleworth. Camilla is a bully!
It is recess. Wodney Wat is the recess game leader. Wodney doesn’t want to do it. Camilla shouts at everyone. She is the best Simon Says player. Wodney like the other students are scared of her.
Wodney starts the game by saying, “Simon says, wake the leaves.” All the students rake the leaves, except Camilla. She tries to wake the leaves. Wodney gives more Simon Says directions. All students, but Camilla does as he says. Wodney ends playtime by saying, “Simon says, go west.” The students lay down to rest. Camilla goes west and is never seen again.
Wodney’s classmates are happy. They all congratulate him. He is the class hero. Most of all, Wodney is happy. He’ll never forget the day.
Wodney gains confidence in himself that day. All children need to have confidence. They need to know they have the ability to win against all odds.
Children with disabilities can contribute and help in difficult situations just as others. Those with and without a disability need to know this fact. This is a great picture book to show it. After reading the book with the child, discuss it.
Also, a discussion about Camilla Capybara, the bully, is needed. Bullying is a major problem in our schools today. Why is it not nice to be a bully? What do you do when being bullied? Talk about it.
The illustrations are done in watercolors. Lynn Munsinger uses a variety of browns and golds to individualize the different classroom animals.
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Note: Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester was from the library.