cover image The Lost Words

The Lost Words

Robert Macfarlane, illus. by Jackie Morris. Anansi International, $35 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4870-0538-2

A deeply reflective and gorgeously illustrated oversize volume lists natural words that were excluded from the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, among them dandelion, heron, willow, and wren (replacement words in that text include broadband and blog). Nature and travel writer Macfarlane offers “a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words” and transforms each inclusion into a marvelous lyrical acrostic; Morris’s paintings of wildlife echo the complexity and vibrancy of Macfarlane’s poetry. For the word starling, the named bird, painted in detail, perches on a branch against a gold background, while the acrostic begins: “Should green-as-moss be mixed with/ blue-of-steel be mixed with gleam-of-gold/ you’d still fall short by far of the – / Tar-bright oil-slick sheen and/ gloss of starling wing.” The duo captures mystery and magic throughout, offering up “spells of many kinds that might just, by the old, strong magic of being spoken aloud... summon lost words back.” All ages. (Oct.)