Noah Webster’s Fighting Words

Tracy Nelson Maurer, illus. by Mircea Catusanu. Millbrook, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4677-9410-7

Noah Webster himself serves as “editor” for this wry introduction to his life and work, marking up the pages with corrections, commentary, and deletions (usually in service of portraying himself in the best possible light). Maurer (Storm Codes) paints a picture of a man secure in his opinions, including his desire to see America “break away from Great Britain in every way. Politics. Trade. Even in its ways of speaking and spelling.” Alongside Webster’s many interjections (“I was simply helping people to see the right point of view,” he says in response to claims that he often argued), Catusanu (How to Eat an Airplane) creates lively, patchwork scenes that incorporate samples from prints, newspapers, books, and Webster’s own letters. It’s a boisterous account of a singular contributor to America’s linguistic legacy. Ages 7–11. Author’s agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Apr.)