'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 21 March 2011

Review: The Word Spy

What has happened to the English language? With technology like mobile phone texting and email, we seem to be getting lazy with our spelling and grammar. When I spotted this book, it was with a feeling of relief that someone was keen to teach children how to use words properly, the importance of spelling them correctly and the reasons they are the way they are.

And Dubosarsky does it in such an entertaining way, using the mysterious Word Spy as her tool. The Word Spy is a character with a love for words and a desire to find their meanings. He wants children to not just learn from his findings, but to help him along the way, with clues to decode the secret message at the end of the book.

As we read, we are shown the idiosyncrasies of the English language, the history of various words, spelling and language rules. We even discover there is more to the shortened words of texting and emailing than simply being lazy.

The line in the book that summed it all up for me was: “I sometimes think English is like a big old wall that people have been scribbling on for centuries.” We really do have a language that is sometimes funny and often strange, so it is interesting to learn about why that is. So many different cultures and people have had a hand in making English what it is today, and it is still changing and evolving.

This is a worthwhile and entertaining read for anyone with an interest in words, or for kids who need a helping hand in understanding the mechanics of this crazy language.

Title: The Word Spy
Ursula Dubosarsky

Illustrator: Tohby Riddle
Penguin Books, $24.95

Format: Hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780670072279
For ages: 8-12
Type: Junior Non-Fiction

This book can be bought online