The Great Dictionary Caper

Judy Sierra, illus. by Eric Comstock. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8004-8
Bored with sitting in a dictionary “day in, day out,” the words make a break for it and organize a parade—which lets Sierra (Wild About You!) and Comstock (the Charlie Piechart series) introduce linguistics terminology in just about the most playful way possible. Onomatopoeic terms form a marching band (the c and g in “clang” turn into arms that crash cymbals together). The action verbs are appropriately kinetic—“somersault” turns itself into one—but the “no-action contractions,” in phrases like “He couldn’t” and “She won’t,” need some nudging. Homophones march “two by two and three by three,” depending on the sound. It’s all lexicographical fun and games, but eventually Noah Webster himself herds the words back between the dictionary covers. Working in a limited palette of orange, olive, and pale blue, Comstock brings the words to vivid anthropomorphic life while visually underscoring each concept (the letters in “please” gaze at readers through eager, beseeching eyes—eyes that close tight after the letters rearrange themselves into their anagram, “asleep”). It’s the very definition of wordplay. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017
Release date: 01/23/2018
Genre: Children's
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