The Rainbow and Who Saw Turtle? by Ros Moriarty, illustrated by Balarinji

The shark with the glinting, pointy teeth saw Turtle.
The octopus with the dangly, stretchy tentacles saw Turtle.

As Turtle makes her way across the sea, the reader is asked ‘Who saw Turtle?’ giving an element of interaction to this delightful tale of a turtle travelling to lay her eggs. The illustrations, too, are interactive, encouraging both prediction and a close examination to see previous animals repeated.

Who Saw Turtle is beautiful picture book offering from Ros Moriarity, with indigenous artwork from the Balarinji studio. Together with The Rainbow, it offers both simple text and rich visuals, perfect for very young students and second language learners.

An important inclusion in both books is a back of book translation of the text into the Yanyuwa language, spoken by families in Borroloola, in the Northern Territory. Such use of traditional language is vital not just for the speakers of that language, but for promoting Australia-wide awareness of the existence and importance of the many languages of our first peoples.

In paperback format, this pair will be enjoyed for its simple, engaging text and rich, bright illustrations.

Who Saw Turtle? ISBN 9781760297800
The Rainbow, ISBN 9781760297794
both by Ros Moriarty, illustrated by Balarinji
Allen & Unwin, 2018

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.

Gift of the Gob, by Kate Burridge

Compiling dictionaries is tricky, especially now when English is acquiring vocabulary at such an extraordinary rate. Many new words are one-offs, of course, spur-or-the-moment, short-lived. People do love to invent words and…some even send their creations off to dictionary editors in the hope they might make it onto their lists. …Stroodle ‘the annoying piece of cheese stretching from a slice of hot pizza to one’s mouth’, like all of Rich Hall’s wonderful inventions, certainly fills a lexical gap, but hasn’t yet made it – it remains a sniglet ‘a word that should be in the dictionary, but isn’t’.

Gift of the Gob is subtitled ‘Morsels of English Language History’. It is not intended to be a dictionary, rather a degustation offering of many and varied words of interest. It begins with a definition of ‘gob’ and other words in similar form, rejecting the salivary ‘gob’ for other more interesting meanings including mouth, ‘gobbet’ for mouthful and more. Chapters include ‘Dictionary’, ‘Slanguage’, ‘Language on the Move’ and more. Burridge tracks the origins of words like ‘hamburger’ (derives from Hamburg) and follows the path past the original meaning, through the ham-burger (meat-in-bun) which leads to limburger, eggburger and more. Much of the content has been inspired by questions Burridge has received from the public, either via radio and other shows, or via contact directly with her. Information boxes offer asides on particular words or sayings, or provide answers to questions.

English is an amazing living language with words entering and leaving official dictionaries. And those who love English, do so in a variety of ways. Some want the language to stay as they learned it, with no relaxing of ‘proper’ English. Others make up words for themselves or for others. It’s a living language, and language changes in usage. Once offensive words become mild, and new ones arrive to shock or titillate. Gift of the Gob dances through the field of wild and ordinary words, bringing them all to life by sharing their history. The reader may never use some of the words examined here, but it’s fascinating to understand a little more of their journey to our modern usage. Burridge introduces and reintroduces words and their meanings in an informative yet conversational style, that excludes no one. Recommended for anyone fascinated by the ever-changing language we call English.

Gift of the Gob

Gift of the Gob, Kate Burridge,
ABC Books 2010
ISBN: 9780733324048

Reviewed by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

That's the Trick! by Krista Bell

it’s, it’s
It’s cool when a nasty smell escapes and does its best to stink out the classroom.

Homophones (also commonly known as homonyms) are those tricky pairs (or threes or even fours) of words which sound the same but are spelt differently and, of course, have different meanings. These pesky words lie in wait just looking for a chance to trip up young spellers (and adult ones, too). Award-winning author Krista Bell has compiled a book which explains the difference between each homophone set, by putting them into entertaining sentences.

Each set of homophones – arranged alphabetically – is included in a sentence which manages to demonstrate the differences between all the words in the set. It is then accompanied by a humorous cartoon (drawn by Sarah Dunk) that further demonstrates the meaning. At the back of the book is a dictionary which provides a definition of each word in each set, for further enlightenment.

This is a handy little book which has classroom and library appeal but which would also make an excellent at-home reference – as well as being simply an entertaining read.

Bell has a love of words which is obvious in this little offering.

That’s the Trick! by Krista Bell, illustrated by Sarah Dunk
Lothian Books, 2006