Review by Booklist Review
An imaginary word-lover takes young readers through a breezy survey of the history of the English language, investigating spelling, punctuation, and wordplay that ranges from anagrams to smileys used for texting. Short chapters, clear explanations, and humorous examples bring the subject to life, while word puzzles and coded messages at the end of each section invite reader participation. The attractive design adds to the appeal, with numerous drawings, silhouettes of the Word Snoop in action, and red boxes. The table of contents serves as an index, but no sources are provided for the information, and some of Dubosarsky's research may be questionable (she claims that knock-knock jokes may have arisen in South Africa during the 1950s, even though they were a fad in the U.S. during the 1930s). Originally published as The Word Spy in Australia in 2008, this won the Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature there. It seems to have been only slightly revised for an American audience. Regardless, English-speaking readers curious about their language will find no better introduction.--Isaacs, Kathleen Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Using word puzzles, codes, puns and a wealth of information, Australian author Dubosarsky (The Red Shoe) explores the enigma that is the English language. The eponymous Word Snoop leads an entertaining adventure that researches the peoples and influences that have shaped English over the past 1,500 years ("I sometimes think English is like a big old wall that people have been scribbling on for centuries," quips the snoop). Beginning with an overview of early writing (cuneiform, hieroglyphics) and alphabets before moving on to the ins and outs of English, the snoop's reader-directed narration offers playful and engaging explanations of punctuation and silent letters ("They're a bit like stray cats that wander into the house") among other elements of language, including nicknames, onomatopoeia, cliches, Internet slang and pig latin. The book is a useful tool for teachers, but should also delight language enthusiasts of all ages. Riddle's cartoons provide humorous flourishes as well as drive home certain points. The clever approach grants insight into the complexity and beauty of communication and the inherent power of language. Ages 10-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-9-Even alphabet origins are explored as a pretend sleuth investigates grammar, punctuation, and word fun, including malapropisms, Pig Latin, and text shorthand-LOL. Each chapter closes with a quiz, and students can check their responses against the answers provided. Minimal black-and-white illustrations add more smiles than information in this upbeat title. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) The Australian author (The Red Shoe, rev. 5/07; The Terrible Plop; rev. page 538), in the guise of the eponymous Word Snoop, delivers a cursory, chatty tour of the evolution of the English language from ancient times (cuneiforms and hieroglyphs) to modern (texting). Along the way she covers expected topics (the evolution of spelling and punctuation) and conventional wordplay (palindromes, onomatopoeia, spoonerisms), but it is the potpourri of lesser-known tidbits that surprise and delight. In 1969, one Frenchman wrote a three-hundred-page novel without the letter e, while another wrote a five-hundred-word palindrome. While the origin of Pig Latin and knock-knock jokes is uncertain, the former has been around at least since the 1920s, and the latter probably originated in the 1950s among schoolchildren in South Africa. The Word Snoop's enthusiasm for the intricacies and oddities of the English language is so infectious that readers will be hard-pressed to resist her invitations to join the fun by experimenting for themselves. There is a glossary, but no index; pen-and-ink drawings help keep the lessons light. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Fascinating facts about words and the English language abound in this giddy Australian import (The Word Spy, 2008), narrated by the exuberant "Word Snoop," who discloses her discoveries to her "dear readers" in a chatty, conspiratorial style. Those who haven't pondered how the world's first alphabet developed (or even the word "alphabet" itself) will be wowed, and trivia buffs will adore learning that quotation marks are nicknamed "goose feet" in Iceland and what the letters in the acronym "laser" stands for. Anagrams, palindromes and oxymorons are demystified, as are mondegreens, Yogiisms and Tom Swifties. Solid-red, chapter-demarcating pages featuring the silhouette of a donkey-riding, telescope-wielding child contribute to the book's distinctly old-fashioned design and sensibility, but the Snoop's eclectic cultural references range from Albert Camus to Lauren Myracle, 17th-century Norwegian poets to the Simpsonsand the final chapter analyzes texting (so like haiku!) and emoticons. Wordplay and cryptography aficionados will enjoy the intermittent coded puzzles that culminate in one final message. Riddle's simple cartoons, often visual puns, enhance the playful nature of this thoroughly engaging, well-crafted primer. (timeline, glossary, code key) (Nonfiction. 10 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.