TITLE: Noah Webster and His Words
AUTHOR: Jeri Chase Ferris
ILLUSTRATOR: Vincent X. Kirsch
PUBLICATION INFO: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 4 through 8
GENRE: nonfiction (biography)
OPENING and SYNOPSIS:
“Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn’t). He was, he said, “full of CON-FI-DENCE” [noun: belief that one is right] from the very beginning.”
From the publisher’s Web site:
“Webster’s American Dictionary is the second most popular book ever printed in English. But who was that Webster? Noah Webster (1758–1843) was a bookish Connecticut farm boy who became obsessed with uniting America through language. He spent twenty years writing two thousand pages to accomplish that, and the first 100 percent American dictionary was published in 1828 when he was seventy years old. This clever, hilariously illustrated account shines a light on early American history and the life of a man who could not rest until he’d achieved his dream. An illustrated chronology of Webster’s life makes this a picture perfect bi-og-ra-phy [noun: a written history of a person’s life]”
THEMES/TOPICS: biography, arts
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This book has won every award under the sun. The form perfectly matches the subject: Ferris sprinkles definitions throughout the text, intermingling Webster’s life’s work with his life story. Ferris also makes Webster accessible to children and parents today. His nose is always in a book (I know someone like that!). His dad takes out a loan to send him to Yale (I think most parents could relate). Noah made little money on his early books, but the printers made a bundle. Ferris’s book is filled with humor for everyone. And Kirsch’s “big head” line drawings of Webster add to the amusement.
- Ferris, an expert biographer, has rich backmatter in her book that could be used for lessons.
- Her site has a downloadable teachers’ guide.
- Here’s a lesson plan from Read Write Think for grades 3 through 12. It includes a fun “Balderdash”-type dictionary game.
- Speaking of Balderdash, why not play that game, Scrabble, or another word game?
- Thanks to The Picture Book Review for this suggestion: test your vocabulary skills at FreeRice.com, which donates to the World Food Programme for each correct answer.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
23 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: NOAH WEBSTER AND HIS WORDS”
Nice review! I have heard so many great things about this book. Can’t wait to read it.
It really lives up to all the good reviews. I heard Jeri speak at a recent SCBWI conference. She’s pretty funny in person too.
I agree – such a smart and funny book! Glad you PPBF’ed it. That is NOT a verb you will find in his dic-tion-ar-y!
Oh, yes, PPBF’ed. We’ll have to use it so much that it makes it into the next update of the dictionary. I’m not sure Noah would approve.
Isn’t this a brilliant biography. I think this one truly merits its many awards. Great PPBF choice!
I agree, Joanna. I find it so fascinating to study how biographers choose to tell the story, what details they select, what “hooks” they use.
Kirsten, Can’t believe I haven’t seen this book. It looks a wonderful biography for kids. Am not surprised it has won so many awards. Lovely review and activities.
Patricia, it’s received so much press, I’m surprised it took me this long to get my hands on it. I felt sure someone had already reviewed it from our group.
How wonderful. My son loves going on that Dictionary.com so he’ll love this. Great pick, Kirsten
I laughed out loud as my older son read about how Noah’s nose was always stuck in a book. I asked him if it sounded familiar. Your son will love this.
This is a great book. I’ve enjoyed reading it to my son. This is a great review and list of resources. Read Write Think is an amazing website.
Thanks for sharing!
Another resource that might be fun to go along with this book is the website: http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1389
Have you been to freerice? It is a vocab game and when you get a question right it donates free rice to the World Food Program.
Awesome! I do not know this site. I will check it out and update my post.
Oh yes! I enjoyed this one too! Good ‘un, Kirsten!
It’s so nice when a truly fabulous book wins so many awards.
Looks like an amusing book! I’m using my Webster’s dictionary every day!
Ferris is truly a comedienne. Enjoy the book!
That is one funny guy on the cover! The folks that I live with and some of the classes that I visit love to play word games. This should be just the book! I’ll have to check it out! Thanks!
What a fun book Kirsten. Thanks for sharing.
This sounds like a funny nonfiction book that I think I’d love!
I love reading about icons in American history…what a fun way for young kids to learn about courage, persistence and goal-setting. 🙂 It’s a great story for all of us…never give up on your dreams!!!!