Language and Literature

Berne, Emma Carlson  What Is an Idiom When It's at Home?
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Capstone    2017
Stefoff, Rebecca  Me, Myself, and I: The More Grammar Changes, the More It Remains the Same
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Capstone    2017

Fact Finders: Why Do We Say That? series. Beginning with a general overview of its topic, each text delves into the history and currently active changes of American English. They also go into some finer points, such as the use of emojis as idioms and the evolution of "thee/thou" to "you." "Try it out!" sections encourage active engagement with functions of language. Stock photographs and some charts adorn the pages. Reading list. Glos., ind.

Subjects: Language; General language; English language; Language—Idioms; Language—Grammar


Bock, Rose, Editor  Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration
Middle school, high school   291 pp.   Philomel    2018

In this anthology, twenty-three established YA authors share essays on the broad topics of hope and resilience. A few passionate expository pieces have a distinctly political bent and seem to be written in response to the 2016 U.S. presidential election; most others are moving personal stories from the authors' diverse experiences as teens. A consistently readable and well-curated collection.

Subjects: Literature; General Literature; Emotions—Hope; Authors


Brunetti, Ivan  Wordplay
Gr. K–3    40 pp.    TOON    2017

After Annemarie defines compound word for her teacher, the girl imagines interpreting compounds part by part: an eggplant, for instance, would be a plant that grows eggs. Spacious graphic-novel panels invite readers to spend time with each of Brunetti's humorous illustrations. The two words that make each compound are highlighted in different colors, reinforcing the lesson and making it accessible to new readers.

Subjects: Language; General Language; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels; English language


Edwards, Nicola  What a Wonderful Word
Gr. 4–6    64 pp.    Kane Miller    2018

Illustrated by Luisa Uribe. Jugaad, Hindi for "the ability to get by without lots of resources"; poronkusema, an imprecise Finnish unit of distance that literally means "the distance a reindeer can walk before needing to use the bathroom." These and twenty-seven other unusual, untranslatable foreign words are introduced in this delightful book. Each two-page entry includes cultural background (in tiny print) and lively retro illustrations. Pronunciation guidance appended.

Subjects: Language; General Language; Multicultural books; Multilingual books; Language—Vocabulary


Strack, Emma  What's the Difference?: 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar
Gr. 4–6    98 pp.    Chronicle    2018

Translated by Kate Willsky. Illustrated by Guillaume Plantevin. Over six thematic sections, this enlightening French import suitable for kids and adults explains the differences between some commonly confused things (crocodile and alligator, bacteria and virus, clementine and mandarin, etc.). The text is peppy ("What's round, orange, and tangy on the inside? Clementines—and mandarins!"), and each contrasted pair is given a double-page spread illustrated with decorous vignettes set against Pantone-like color screens. Ind.

Subjects: General Knowledge; Concept books; Books in translation

From the December 2019 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

Horn Book
Horn Book

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