Wearing purple sneakers and a bemused expression, Wesley knows he’s an outcast: he dislikes pizza, soda, and football, and fleeing his tormentors is “the only sport he was good at.”
When he learns that each civilization has its own staple food crop, he takes as his summer project turning over a plot of ground in the back yard, and seeds brought by the wind begin to grow. Wesley can’t find the plants in any book, but the fruit and the juice are delicious, as are the tubers on the roots. He makes a hat from the bark and a robe from the inner fibers, and sells the seed oil to his former enemies as a suntan lotion/mosquito repellent. It isn’t long before he’s moved out to the yard, and invents an alphabet and a whole raft of sports for the place he calls Weslandia. In sumptuously detailed illustrations, Hawkes has vividly imagined Fleischman’s puckish text, capturing both the blandness of Wesley’s suburban surroundings and then the fabulous encroachment of the rainforest-like vegetation of his green and growing place.
Children will be swept up in Wesley’s vision, and have a fine time visiting Weslandia. An alphabet appears on the endpapers. (Picture book 5-9)