Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris (Picture Book Biographies A to Z - Letter W)

Noah Webster & His Words
by Jeri Chase Ferris
illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
2012. Houghton Mifflin


Noah Webster (1758-1843) was the creator of the first American dictionary.


This book covers Webster's entire life, beginning with his childhood disagreement with his father over whether he would take over the family farm and following him through his education at Yale, his experiences teaching during the American Revolution, and his writing of multiple books, including, finally, the famous dictionary for which he is known.

About the Illustrations

The illustrations add a light-hearted dimension to the facts presented in this book because they are drawn in a cartoonish style, with exaggerated heads and eyes on all the figures, and simplified details on background objects such as trees and furniture. Webster's personality comes across strongly in his facial expressions, and though he spends much of the book doing quiet, solitary activities, the pictures still feel lively.

Author's Note

There is an author's note on the final page of the book, which gives details not included in the text, such as the names of Webster's children and of some of Webster's contemporaries that kids may know, like Benjamin Franklin. Also included is a bibliography listing primary and secondary sources along with websites, and a timeline, showing all the significant events of Webster's life interspersed with important events in American history.

Additional Comments

A fun component of this book is the way the author includes definitions for words within the narrative. Not only does this drive home Webster's fascination with language; it also teaches kids some new vocabulary in an accessible way. This book also helps to explain why American and English spellings for many words are different and also teaches kids that American English was not standardized prior to Webster's writings. I enjoyed the book, and I think kids who are interested in language will like it as well.

1 comment :

  1. Thank goodness for Noah, though I suppose if it hadn't been him, someone else would have taken up the task. As it is, he must have been brilliant.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...