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The Lost Words

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  5,054 ratings  ·  1,067 reviews
From Acorn to Weasel: a gorgeous, hand-illustrated, large-format spellbook celebrating the magic and wonder of the natural world

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children's lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children's m
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Hamish Hamilton
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Kate This book is nonfiction poetry.
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Average rating 4.52  · 
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 ·  5,054 ratings  ·  1,067 reviews

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Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
"Once upon a time, words began to vanish..."

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris is about the invaluable concept of bringing life back to some of the natural words that are moving out of usage from our lives.

Words such as:

The purpose of this beautifully illustrated book and collection of words in the form of `spell-poems` is to bring these words again into usage and give them life.

Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gone are the days when children’s alphabets would begin with A is for Acorn, B is for butterfly and C is for caterpillar. Now days it is likely to be A is for Acer, B is for Blackberry and C is for Cisco. Back in 2015, The Oxford University Press dropped around 50 words that were drawn from the natural world from the latest edition of its Junior dictionary; they argued that it was less relevant as children were spending less time outside and were glued to the screen of a tablet or phone. The ala ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book for children. Which I didn't know at first so I was surprised by the choices of "lost words" used in this book as I didn't think them lost at all. Then I read the book's description and thus found out that the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was missing around forty common words concerning nature. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The authors thought this could not be, should not be - and I quite agree ...more
Elyse Walters
Library overdrive Audiobook…read by Edith Bowman, Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews, Benjamin Zephaniah
….47 minutes

Birds, rocks, mountains, springs, rivers, diamonds, echos, grass, what-the-eye misses — wood, Raven, willow, solver-of-power, ivy, otter, inspire, wind, prince, ground cover, sky wire, water, rainbows & glitter

…Nothing was ‘demanded’
of me when listening to this!
…Nothing intellectually was more important than ‘being’ - ‘listening’ - ‘experiencin
From reading goodreads reviews I gather this book was inspired by a list of words removed from the oxford children's dictionary although it doesn't mention this in the book. Not knowing this I could only go by what the book says it is about- words that have vanished from the language of children. I just don't understand, words like conker, dandelion and starling have not vanished from the language of children and even in poor built up areas of city, children are well aware of what these are. I e ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-britain-uk
This gorgeously illustrated book captures twenty of over 40 words that the Oxford Junior Dictionary dropped due to children’s disuse. Oxford excised acorn, dandelion, heron, otter, raven, weasel, wren, and willow and replaced them with attachment, blog, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The natural world was replaced with the virtual world. An outcry was raised requesting that the words be returned. McFarlane and Morris create a “spell book” to summon some of the lost words and celebrate the value ...more
Beth  Bennett
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Absolutely stunning, both words and illustrations. Deserves more than 5 stars.
It is a shame that these words that were part of my countryside childhood have become lost to the children of today. It is quite scary.
This work of art is sublime. The empty spaces speak volumes and truly complement the art work throughout.
The spells are composed and sound magical when read aloud, as intended. Yes, I did verbalise them.
This is a book I shall return to again and again.
Cindy Rollins
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
At first I just used this book as a display book on my hearth turning a page each day. I finally sat down and read it after starting Macfarlane's Landmarks and reading about the naural world words that are going away: Dandelion, wren, otter...etc. Then this book came alive. These are The Lost Words. The illustrations are worthy of the words. ...more
Carolyn Marie Castagna
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was waiting to read this in physical form, but when I saw the (full cast) audiobook available...I couldn't help myself!
I was very pleasantly surprised to hear bird song, rain sounds, and the music of the natural world in the background of these "spells."
Robert Macfarlane wrote this to bring the names of the natural world back into our minds, eyes, ears, and lives!
What a magnificent thing to do!
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely exquisite! This is yet another magnificent book from Mr MacFarlane and so stunning that it takes pride of place on my shelf where many visitors pick it up. It's definitely the most breathtakingly delightful book in my collection and should be in every home, school and library, and although marketed towards children this is a book adults will also thoroughly enjoy. Jackie Morris's hand-painted illustrations are simply beautiful and complement the poems superbly. Precipitated by the Oxf ...more
Who knew, that behind our backs, language we know - have used, have relied on, counted as part of our own life's script - is being quietly archived, retired, banished???? Hats off to Robert Macfarlane for throwing back the curtain and showing the Wizards (of Words?) and revealing the sleight of hand in which they engage. Stealthy. Sneaksy, sayeth Golem.

I get it that Someone Somewhere should keep track of which words are trending, used by which generation and which part of the globe does what whe
Although that yes, I have found Robert MacFarlane's presented verses in his and Jackie Morris' Kate Greenaway Medal winning The Lost Words for the most part poetically delightful and much engaging, I am sorry to say that I for one am at the same time also absolutely NOT WILLING to in any manner overlook and forgive the unavoidable, sad and academically problematic truth of the matter that the author, that Robert MacFarlane is in my opinion basically fibbing in a major way, as really, NONE of the ...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Buy this book for the children in your life, or if there are none for your inner child
Viv JM
5* for the illustrations
4* for the poetry

This ENORMOUS book is really quite beautiful. The "lost words" of the title are words children used to know - like acorn, bramble, magpie, wren - and these words are the subject of charming acrostic poems coupled with some of the most stunning artwork I have ever seen in a children's book.

A lovely book, to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Just take a big bag to carry it home in :-)
Karen Witzler
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tour of the natural world through beautiful illustrations and acrostic poems. The focus words are those that have been excised from children's dictionaries and vocabulary lists in recent years on the grounds that they are no longer current, in general usage , or known at all. This would make a great addition to an elementary classroom for the artwork, vocabulary building, nature study, and sheer pleasure. ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
Stumbling upon this gem of a book was rather like finding real treasure in the library! In the introduction, author Macfarlane explains that the twenty words that form the basis of his poetry are all words from the world of nature that British children are rarely encountering today. The accompanying illustrations, created by Jackie Morris, are breathtakingly beautiful and have the feel of a naturalist's sketchbook. Adults and children alike are sure to love this outstanding book! – Louisa A. ...more
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book which I was put on the trail off after someone was telling me about the lost words project. The basic idea is to counter the fact that slowly there are words which are leaving the English vocabulary due to the younger generations either not knowing or using them.

The book is basically a book of verse (I am sure there is a technical name for it, however I will admit that it currently escapes me) where each letter of the word becomes a line in a poem celebrating this work o
Ellie L
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals, nature, poetry
Beautiful and full of life, 'The Lost Words' is an incredible collection of illustrations and poetry that will ignite curiosity towards nature within every reader. To me, the poetry feels like it is written in an all knowing voice, as if it has been waiting to speak for years. The attention to small complex details woven throughout the book made me question how much I really notice about nature- despite having lived in the countryside for the majority of my life.
There are two sides to this book
Nicholas Kotar
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Robert MacFarlane threw down a gauntlet in his introduction to one of his best works, Landmarks. He decided he would do everything in his power to add the lost language of nature back into everyday life. This is a continuation of that challenge, but here he focuses on children (of all ages). Called a book of spells, it's a gorgeously illustrated dictionary of nature words that have been lost in everyday language. But really, this is a book for adults even more than children. ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am in love with this book, it's everything I love.

I listened to the audiobook. The bird sounds the sounds of nature, Different readers , the lost words . Oh my goodness, so lovely.
This is one I will listen to many many times , it's so calming and relaxing.
(3.5) I followed up The Lost Words immediately with this companion book to the 14-track album a group of eight folk musicians made in response. We were already fans of Kris Drever (mostly via Lau), Karine Polwart and Beth Porter (via the Bookshop Band), and became familiar with a few more of the artists (Kerry Andrew, Julie Fowlis and Rachel Newton) earlier this year through the online Folk on Foot festivals. This volume includes six additional poems, four of which directly inspired songs on the ...more
Callum McLaughlin
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is something of a call to action, lest we allow children to lose touch with the natural world and all its wonder. Self-styled as a 'spell book', it brings together the acrostic poems of Robert Macfarlane and the beautiful artwork of Jackie Morris. Each piece is centred around an animal or plant type, the name of which is disappearing from every day use in children's vocabularies, with some having been removed from junior dictionaries altogether.

The poems themselves are very playful, wi
Lizzie Stewart
What a beautiful first read of 2022. I grabbed this book on a whim to help a friend who was trying to find a name for a typeface and expected something very different than what I got. This book contained primarily words that I would argue aren't exactly lost - like weasel and dandelion - but was a beautifully illustrated collection of poems about nature. A book I'd definitely read again, although not quite what I expected. ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am still astounded by the size of this beautiful book!

The first thing I did was inhale the pages, the ink, the paper. 🤓❤️📖

This is the kind of tome I hope to see when I travel in my dreams and can see the books I am reading. 🌜

The artistry and craft is heart-achingly lovely and wonderfully rich, nourishing my love of words and nature and painting. Inspired. 😍
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art, 2018, poetry, animals
This had the potential to be amazing, but turned out to be puzzling. For one thing, the words selected and considered "lost" ARE still in use. And the poetry was acrostic, which is fine, just not what I expected in such a lavishly lovingly imagined book. Perhaps my expectations were off, and it's just me. ...more
Linda Robinson
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superlatives fail to capture the magic of this beautiful, spellbinding, necessary book. Jackie Morris wrote to Robert Macfarlane once upon a time to suggest he write the nature words the Oxford Junior Dictionary was removing from the recent edition. This precious enormous book is what happened when Robert Macfarlane wrote back to Jackie Morris. The words and the art together. Words that children will not be able to look up/see/hear in everyday nature language. Children, says the Oxford children' ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, it arrived this morning and I was quite surprised at the sheer size of it. It is around A3 in size but after reading it the beauty of it couldn't be shown in anything smaller in my opinion. It's not a book heavy in words, but Robert Macfarlane's Acrostic Poetry is divine and Jackie Morris' Artwork in the book is beyond words.

The message of the book is clear , children are losing the "wild streak" and nature and it's beauty are being forgotten. My chil
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle for this book is “a spell book” and it truly is magical, with hidden words and beautiful painted illustrations of nature.
Cherisa B
Nov 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, ya-kiddielit, 2022
A book with surprising depth in the poetry of MacFarlane and beauty in the illustrations of Morris. Clever in the use of letters and words, void and presence in the drawings to invoke the chosen topic, such as letters of the word strung along the lines between utility poles to echo starlings in the world where we may see them. Words made real, quite lovely and unique.

A hardback to have and hold is preferable to the ebook option. A great gift for a child whose love of language and nature you wan
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it

Ok, reading the article, I see that this is the kind of children's dictionary that does not attempt to include all the words in a child's vocabulary. To make room for some newer words having to do with the digital age, the editors removed some (not nearly all) nature words.

I agree that it's a shame that too many children have more screen time than outdoors time in their lives. But the dictionary is reflecting that rather than promoting it. It's still up to
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Goodreads Librari...: Separate out an edition 2 16 Jul 17, 2020 11:32AM  
2018 Roe Reading ...: The Lost Words 1 2 Oct 01, 2019 10:35AM  
Favourite spell 1 15 Oct 12, 2017 11:45AM  

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Robert Macfarlane is a British nature writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountain

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