Review of The Return of the Word Spy
Five Stars ***** An exceptional book of the very highest quality, regardless of genre
Word-lovers everywhere will be thrilled to learn there is another instalment after the hugely successful Word Spy. Filled with everything anyone could ever want to know about the English language, The Return of the Word Spy barely draws breath as it takes up where its predecessor left off, digging up gems of information that are comical, quirky and endlessly fascinating. Divided into 12 chapters with headings as enticing as “Nouns are like ice cream” and “Verbs are like goldfish”, the author delights in explaining the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of grammar, while other chapters delve into the past to explain the present use of words and sayings. Thus we ponder with Plato how we make words actually mean something, wonder at Chomsky’s theory of ‘Universal Grammar’, and even look at the origins of the word ‘Google’; indeed everything to do with the art of communication, in its broadest sense, is discussed. Ursula Dubosarsky’s enthusiasm for her subject is infectious; as she writes in the forward, this is ‘a dizzying journey into the very extremities of words’. The wit and whimsy of Tohby Riddle’s illustrations only add to the overall joy of this book. Recommended for primary school children upwards.
Hilary Adams works in an independent bookshop in Sydney, and is a freelance reviewer.
Published in Australian Bookseller and Publisher on April 10, 2010.