Celebrating Poetry Month this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I came across a book of poetry written by Robert Macfarlane. I wasn’t able to see a preview of any of the poems online, and the illustration on the cover was the only illustration I could see. So, why did I want this book so much?  Because of this line from the opening page.

Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first, almost no one noticed–fading away like water on stone.

I ordered the book from my library and when it came in, I was awestruck by both the lyrical language chosen for each poem and the masterful illustrations. I read the poems again and again. I studied them, and I enjoyed them.

Every once in a while, I come across a book that touches me so deeply that I have to own the book so I can return to its pages whenever the mood comes.

For me, this is that book.

Title –  The Lost Words – A Spell Book

Author– Robert Macfarlane

Illustrator – Jackie Morris

Published by – Hamish Hamilton – 2017

Suitable for everyone of all ages. 

Topics – Poetry, nature, plants, and animals

Opening –   

ACORN

As a flake is to blizzard, as
Curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as
One is to many, a coin is to money, as bird is to flock, as
Rock is to mountain, as drop is to fountain, as spring is to river, as glint is to glitter, as
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as feather is to flight, as light is to star, as kindness      is to good, so acorn is to wood.

Amazon Review HERE.

In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently, they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acornadderbluebelldandelionfernheronkingfishernewtotter, and willow.

Among the words taking their place were attachmentblogbroadbandbullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book ― a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.

Learn more about Robert Macfarlane HERE.

Learn more about Jackie Morris HERE.

 

Until next Friday.

15 thoughts on “Celebrating Poetry Month this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

  1. Your introduction to the book made me want to read it. I love the quote you used because it is so relevant. So many young people just don’t read. I was shocked that only about 20% of my students this year had ever read a Harry Potter book–or seen the movies. The biggest series of this generation and they did not have a clue about it. I will definitely be checking this book out. Thanks for sharing it.

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    • Only 20% of your students read Harry Potter or saw the movie this year??? I’m surprised, too. I was also surprised to learn that so many beautiful words in our language are being left out of dictionaries. This gorgeous poetry book, The Lost Words, is somewhat over-sized (about as tall as two picture books). But trust me, the quality of the illustrations demands the extra page space so the intricate details can be appreciated.

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  2. I love that poem! But I don’t understand how you drop from a dictionary the names of plants & animals that exist. . . otter, dandelion, etc. I wonder whose brilliant idea that was? Why not just ADD the new words? I’ll find this one once the library opens up again. Thanks, Leslie.

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    • I was surprised to learn that so many beautiful words from our natural world have disappeared from dictionaries. Imagine leaving out acorn or fern. I’m in complete agreement with you that no word should be removed to make room for new words. Let the dictionary grow in length!

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  3. Wow! That is amazing that they are dropping words like fern, FERN! Really!!! Oh my! It’s our national sports logo the “Silver Fern” in New Zealand. We have over 70 species of fern growing in our country. Unbelievable! I do love your choice of book and like Maria will definitely look for it when our libraries open again. I agree with Maria they should just add new words, not take words away.

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    • Hi, Diane, I had no idea you lived across the world in beautiful New Zealand! A friend of mine used to live in Christchurch for a great number of years until they decided to move to America. On the upside, our families get to spend more time together. When you’re able to venture out to the library, be prepared to hold a larger sized, seriously breathtaking book. You’ll want to find a lovely stretch of quiet time to truly enjoy both the thoughtful poems and lovingly-created illustrations.

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  4. Pingback: The Monday Poems Look at Beginnings. | Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

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