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The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant with illustrations by Melissa Sweet

NOW A 2015 CALDECOTT HONOR BOOK!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
, written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, $17.50, Ages 6-10) is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

✩Starred Reviews – Publishers WeeklyKirkus Reviews
Junior Library Guild
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The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant with illustrations by Melissa Sweet, Eerdmans 2014.

List: index, inventory, agenda, series, menu, outline, docket. If you like to make lists, be sure to put this wonderful book about Peter Mark Roget on the top of your next one. A marvelous new nonfiction collaboration from the terrific team of Bryant and Sweet, here is the story of a man whose book resides in countless homes, schools, and libraries. The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus will boost your appreciation for this indispensable reading and writing reference tool as well as for the man who created it.

Young Peter’s early life was challenging. His family moved often following his father’s death in 1783, but Peter found that books were always plentiful, faithful friends that he did not have to leave behind. He began writing his own book, a list of Latin words and their English meanings. The list helped him study and gave him a sense of comfort and order while his mother fretted and worried.

Bryant’s lovely, lyrical text walks a well-balanced route through Peter’s shy teen years, medical school, marriage and family. While practicing medicine, Peter continued amassing words until his book of lists was completed. Always collecting, revising and perfecting, Roget’s lifelong dedication eventually created an organized, easy to use tool. In 1852, the first thousand copies of Roget’s Thesaurus flew off the shelves.

Sweet’s collage style illustrations are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, drawing fine threads of Roget’s story into focus with richness and clarity. I have studied the pages of this book for days, and still discover unique text samples and detailed subtleties in the pictures that amaze me. This is truly a book to savor over and over, noting fresh gems each time.

Indeed, in The Right Word we learn that thesaurus comes from the Latin and Greek roots meaning treasury. I cannot imagine a more apt description of this spectacular picture book biography. Be sure to note the extensive author and illustrator notes, timeline, bibliography and endpapers that will make this treasure an indispensable resource.

  • Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey
  • Where Obtained:  I borrowed a The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus from my local library and received no compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Download discussion guide here.

Read our review of Bryant’s and Sweet’s book A Splash of Red here.

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Back to School With Eerdmans

Ready and Waiting For YouHere in L.A. many schools have already begun, but there are plenty around the state and country that don’t begin until close to or after Labor Day. READY AND WAITING FOR YOU written by Judi Moreillon with art by Catherine Stock (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $17.00, ages 4-7) is an ideal picture book to share with youngsters this time of year as they change gears from lazy summer daze to busy school days. As families head to the stores to purchase school clothing, stationary supplies and books, consider adding READY AND WAITING FOR YOU to the list. It’s designed as a warm welcome back to school and the school year for kids just beginning school or those starting in a new school.

Every other page pulls open to reveal more of Stock’s bright and cheery, cut paper illustrations that correspond to Moreillon’s text. I love the repetition of the phrase, “We’re ready and waiting for you.” It’s calming yet upbeat. And the way the story moves from the various personnel involved in school works wonderfully. Children will meet a bus driver, crossing guards, the principal, the school secretary, attendance clerk, nurse, librarian, computer technician, gym, art and music teachers. Also included are the cafeteria cooks and food workers (aka lunch ladies), playground monitors, custodians and parent volunteers. Best of all there’s the classroom teacher and all the other pupils, and “everyone’s waiting for you!” Now parents, doesn’t that make you wish that you, too, were going back to school?

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Click here to read what author/librarian Judi Moreillon has to say about writing this picture book.

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