Review Blog

Oct 24 2016

Junior illustrated English dictionary and thesaurus by Felicity Brooks

cover image

Ill. by Nikki Dyson. Usborne, 2016. ISBN 9781474924481
This new release from Usborne, who are masters at putting together quality education resources, comes in perfect time for sharing with parents who are looking for something special for the Christmas stocking for that between group who are a little old for toys but not quite ready for all the trappings of being a young adult. Grandparents will LOVE it as a suggestion!
With so many thesauri and dictionaries on the market for this age group, there has to be a point of difference to make a new one stand out and having seen and used so many over my 40+ years of teaching, it's hard to think what that might be. However, Usborne have discovered it - scattered throughout the 480 pages amongst the 6000+ words are text boxes with all sorts of information about the words including spelling tips, word families, word origins and so on - each of which helps the child build their vocabulary and their knowledge of how words and English work so they can build on what they know to be even more proficient. There are explanations about the s/z conflict in British and American English as well as things like the t/ed endings and who uses which. (Australian standards use 't' but either is acceptable where there is a choice and the context and meaning is not changed).
There is a comprehensive 'how to' introductory section which explains the features and layout of the book including how to use a dictionary generally, the different word classes such as nouns, adjectives and verbs and links to further explanations, activities and games for both the dictionary and the thesaurus which will extend the user's knowledge and skills even further. In between the dictionary and thesaurus sections are pages about how to make plurals, and prefixes and suffixes, all serving to make this more than just a word finder. The plentiful, colourful illustrations are really useful and would serve someone learning English for the first time very well, particularly older students who prefer something a little more grown-up than basic alphabet books.
If you are looking for a new class set of this sort of reference text for the library, this one really deserves serious consideration - in the meantime, this copy will find its way to Miss Almost-Year-5. It will be the perfect present for her.
Barbara Braxton

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