Noah Webster's Fighting Words

illus. by Mircea Catusanu. 40p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. notes. websites. Millbrook. Jan. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781467794107.
RedReviewStarGr 3–5—Maurer and Catusanu have created a wonderfully clever and humorous depiction of Noah Webster as an outspoken, driven man who endlessly advocated for weaning Americans from British influence by producing a lexicon of truly American words with American pronunciations. For example, at that time, the terms skunk, hickory, and chowder did not exist outside the United States. Born in 1758, Webster was a young Yale student during the tumultuous times of the Revolutionary War, and he used his words as weapons to fight against British cultural dominance. Two qualities of this picture book combine to make it engaging and amusing: Webster is introduced to readers right on the cover, where he establishes himself as editor of the content. Throughout, his "fictional ghost" adds playful editorial comments to what the author has related about his life and accomplishments. The fictionalized Webster marks out statements made about him that he doesn't like, adds his own perspective on his actions, and inserts comments here and there to provide further context to a situation. The second element that makes the title so delightful is the collaged illustrations, which incorporate archival images and excerpts from primary documents in a visually appealing, lighthearted way. Many of the people shown in the artwork have speech bubbles coming out of their mouths containing popular opinions of the time. A time line of Webster's life and notes at the back confirm the extensive research the author did to verify the information.
VERDICT Students of all ages (and adults!) will appreciate this brief, comical, fact-filled sketch of an American icon.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing