Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson. What On Earth Books, 2020. 9781912920181
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Beginning linguists will learn about the origins and meanings of twelve words, all from different linguistic word families. Each word is presented in a page opening with its pronunciation, language of origin, English meaning, original meaning, and a short blurb of information or contemplation about the word. Openings are illustrated with beautiful collage-like art that evokes the meaning. For example, the word “royalty” (French; original meaning: rule by a king or queen) is illustrated with a medieval tapestry-like picture of a royal on horseback barking orders to a cavalcade of soldiers. The blurb tells how the French word entered the English language when the Normans invaded France in 1066 CE. Although there are only twelve words profiled, the author chose words with a diversity of origins, in that some are derived from phrases (companion), some from actions (ukulele, caribou), some from sounds (caribou), some from onomatopoeia, etc. Back matter includes information about language families, a map, and an author’s note.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For kids ages 6-12 years who like books about words and languages.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? 400
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: February 27, 2020