The Keeper of Wild Words

Chronicle. Mar. 2020. 62p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781452170732.
K-Gr 3–Brook’s grandmother, Mimi, needs help retrieving some of her favorite words before they disappear for good, wild words that she’s known and cherished her whole life. “How do words disappear?” young Brook asks. Mimi answers that words disappear when they are forgotten by not being shared in speech or written in stories, and not read in books. Many of those words are found exclusively in nature; acorn, apricot, and beaver are followed later by violet, willow, and wren. The author was inspired to pen this tale after reading that the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed over 100 natural words from its pages. The story, paired with its gentle pastel illustrations, attempts to introduce these words to current readers. This is a touching, poetic, noble attempt, but lacks eye-catching pictures. While the buttercups and dandelions are striking, the silver minnows are barely noticeable, and Kloepper hardly captures the Monarch butterfly in all its glory as it dives by. The best use of a book like this is to take children out on a nature hunt to collect and/or identify said listed items. Using the large envelope at the end of the book is a good way to make a keepsake of the experience.
VERDICT Peter H. Reynold’s The Word Collector is a more creative celebration of words that will likely be appreciated by a young audience.

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