Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary, by Nick Earls & Terry Whidborne

While stories build from words, it’s true,
The words themselves have stories too.
Who dares to read? Who dares to look?
Who dares to hunt within this book?

When Lexi and Al accidentally find an old dictionary, their lives change dramatically. They are whisked back into history to hunt the origins of words which are in danger of disappearing from our past and our present. Each successful stop in time pegs down a key usage of an evolving word, thus ensuring its survival. And, as the twins discover, it isn’t just the words that are important – it’s their impact on the path of history, which shapes the modern world in many ways. But ensuring the survival of those words could come at a cost. Will they be trapped in the past because they miss the clues? Or will one of the many physical dangers they face prove too much.

The Curious Dictionary is the first in a new series from the team of writer Nick Earls and illustrator Terry Whidborne. The concept is clever – blending time travel with an examination of both the evolution of language and its impact on the world as a whole. The children travel through many time periods and major moments in history, and at times this was so rapid the reader may struggle to grasp what has gone on, or may be left wanting to see more of a particular setting. There are enough questions left unanswered – particularly that of a missing grandfather who was also (unbeknownst to them) a word hunter, and also other missing word hunters – to draw readers back to the next instalment in the series.

A sound start to the series.

The Curious Dictionary (Word Hunters)

The Curious Dictionary (Word Hunters), by Nick Earls & Terry Whidborne
University of Queensland Press, 2012
ISBN 9780702249457

Available from god bookstores or online.