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The Word Snoop

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  502 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Meet the Word Snoop. She?s dashing and daring and witty as can be?and no one knows more about the evolution of the English language than she does. Luckily, she?s spilling her secrets in this gem of a book. From the first alphabet in 4000 BC, to anagrams, palindromes, and modern-day text messages, readers will learn all about the fascinating twists and turns our fair langua ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 9th 2009 by Dial Books (first published 2007)
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I'm a word nerd so this book appeals to me right from the first chapter on the origins of our alphabet. But what about kids that have had no interest in this topic or even thought about language before? Dubosarsky finds a voice for her narrator that is quirky and captivating. This is a narrator who teases, wonders and plays with words right on the page, encouraging the reader to do the same. The author/narrator provides puzzles and codes at the end of each chapter for the reader to try out -- ac ...more
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book got great reviews, and is about one of my favorite topics, the history of the English language, so I was excited to read it. But I found it incredibly disappointing - I HATE it when authors of children's nonfiction books insert millions of little asides in parentheses, with exclamation points. To my mind, it's disrespectful of the intelligence of the intended audience; the subject matter of this book is intriguing without trying to drum up false enthusiasm with lots of exclamation poin ...more
Kristin Nelson
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. It gave a brief, interesting history of the English language and then went on to describe and demonstrate many fun word concepts, like onomatopoeia, mondegreens, Tom Swifties, homophones, spoonerisms, palindromes, tautologies, etc. The book is meant for an elementary audience, so I didn't gain much from it. I felt like the author could have given us more, but I don't know what the book was actually lacking, so maybe I am just too old and wor ...more
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
We were recently informed by our six year old that it is just not fair that he has to learn to read English. "English is weird and hard and everything is different in different words!" he complained. Oh, it's true, little man. We're sorry. We should totally be Spaniards.

We did, however, try to explain that we are endowing him with one of the most versatile, descriptive languages on the planet. His 8-year-old brother was similarly pissed off about the inconsistencies of English when he was learn
Canadian Reader
The Word Snoop is an engaging, fairly light inquiry into the idiosyncrasies of the English language, its many influences and infusions from various cultures--which to some extent accounts for the numerous inconsistencies in spelling.(According to Dubosarsky, operators of early printing presses were another big contributor.)

Dubosarsky also explores word games, acronyms, puns, spoonerisms, and many other ways that people play with language.

I don't see this book as being universally appealing to
Amanda Jeffery
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An amazing frolic through the history of language. I use this in my classroom CONSTANTLY. Children love it and they learn so much. I have a literacy unit based around this book and The Return of the Word Spy. My children don't realise they are learning boring old grammar because it is so much fun. There are so many interesting things to study and I have found that once the children have read this book they are able to use their learning to relate to other books. In my class last year we study Th ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was like a texbook. There was no storyline, and no characters. It just taught me everythimg there is to know about words and thing that have to do with them. Things like languages, alphabets, puncuation, acronyms, puns, the history of words, and much more. I learned a lot from this book. For example, the word laser is an acronym. Laser means Light Amplifacation by Stimulating Emission of Radiation. The book also had some secret codes to decipher, so it wasn't all facts and history. The ...more
Flick Martin
Jul 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Best most entertaining book I've come across on the English language - great for kids but for anyone really. History of the language, but also lots of little bits and pieces. Quite passionate book. Interesting illustrator too I must say - the pics really light up the page. I'm also buying a class set.
Nov 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
The perfect book for word nerds like me! Interesting background on the English language, and the last bit about text messages and how, really, they're extensions of how our language has evolved anyway, is a thought-provoking response to those who say our written language will die out due to txt. :)
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juniornonfiction
For years, my children have asked me questions about the English language that I haven't been able to answer. This fun and clever book answered so many of those questions!
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Very quirky
Jessica Gilchrist
Wow, I remember reading these books when I was in about Grade 4 or 5. I loved them so much! They're super informative and entertaining!
Kirsten Teng
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sean Harding
Brilliant book for people of all ages showing the English language in history and in the different ways we use words. Complete with puzzles, activities and much to learn even for seasoned English speakers. A great book!
Debbie Williams
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly good read for an information book.
Analise Powell
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
i did not like this book one bit. it was long and boring and hard to understand
Ella Rose Brunton
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an awesome book for children. Introduces linguistics in a fun and easy to way to understand.
Kathy Mathey
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely adored this engaging history of words ~ so many implications for classrooms of all ages.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an excellently written history and explanation of language! Quick easy read that leads me to wanting to learn more, should have been a linguistics major! Finally know what Ichthus means in regards to Christianity it's an anagram of Greek words Iesous Christop Theou Hugo's Soter meaning JesusChrist Son of God Savior but Ichthus is also the Greek word for fish hence the reason the fish is a Christian symbol.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids starting to like linguistics
Shelves: 2014-read, at-home
Another linguistics book. (That's a good thing, ok?)

It was written in a conversational tone. The one that adults use for eight year olds. I find it really annoying when adults write like this (with hundreds of bracketed asides like this!) as it feels like the lower the intelligence of a kid. I might not have noticed that when I was seven. But it feels really demeaning.

Ok, there were really good facts about English, most of which I already knew from other books, but many would have been completel
Madeline J. Rose
Initial Response
This book is SO. FUN.

Meet the Word Snoop. She's dashing and daring and witty as can be and no one knows more about the evolution of the English language than she does. Luckily, she's spilling her secrets in this gem of a book. From the first alphabet in 4000 BC, to anagrams, palindromes, and modern-day text messages, readers will learn all about the fascinating twists and turns our fair language has taken to become what it is today. With playful black-and-white illustrations, r
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laced with humour, packed full of fantastic and comprehensive information on oxymorons, spoonerism, acronyms, mondegreens, malapropism, the history of the English alphabet and so much more, The Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky is the perfect choice for people of all ages interested in the English language.

Throughout the book, the reader is challenged with a code to test their newly learned knowledge of a particular component of the English language from each chapter. For example, part of a chapter
May 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Non fiction books give out true information on a certain topic. They can include subjects such as, science, history, math, reading, writing and more. The chapters in the word snoop have sections inside of them explaining in more detail. The pictures in this book are examples of hieroglyphs and other ancient forms of writing. There is a also table of contents in the beginning of the book which makes it a little bit easier to figure out what you were reading.
The word snoop was not that interestin
Eric Stone
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and have read it several times. The book teaches you about the English language, the history, and where we get modern words, sayings, and meanings. Throughout the Word Spy, the author challenges you to figure out puzzles based on what she has just talked about. This book is wonderfully written and illustrated in a way that makes it accessible for everyone.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the English language but doesn't want to read an enormou
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
How fun was this?! I wish I had an interrobang to insert here. Never heard of an interrobang? Well, read Dubosarsky's The Word Snoop and you will know. This is as good a book on the English language as any I've read in a long time. First published in Australia, the American editors may have let an Aussie expression or two slip through that could puzzle readers, but I didn't write them down while reading, and now I can't remember what they were! Still, it's a strong, fun introduction to the histo ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
It started ok, and then it got really irritating. The first chapters on the origins of the English language and why spelling appears so erratic was interesting. and then the rest was a rehash of what I already knew and one hopes any child learning English or learning in English would know (do they?) and her jokey tone became quite annoying. But then again I'm not a teenager, so maybe that stuff is still funny if you are!
So, if you're thinking your kid is deprived on the nuances of anagrams, pang
Karen A.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
True confession - I did not read the entirity of this book. In fact I brought it home for my daughter to read because she is on a Greek root word kick. I am not sure if she did read it... but I did browse through it and it is very entertaining. It is light and well written and does not get weighed down by is very weighty content. Lots of historical facts, evolutions, and games in and around the wonderful English Language. Just the sort of thing a tween needs to one up their classmates. It will p ...more
A fantastic history of the English language and a great overview of all the weird & quirky ways that words work. Everything from comon acronyms to less common malapropisms and mendagreens (when you hear "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" instead of "kiss the sky" listening to Hendrix). It was utterly fascinating & written in an accessible and entertaining style. Kids and adults both will like solving the secret codes at the end of each chapter. It's a very fast read (1 night for me) but y ...more
Loved this book about the alphabet, the English language and other related word matters. I learnt so much about subjects that could have been very dry and uninteresting - eg. that the Phoenician language, which is the basis for Greek, Etruscan and then Roman, had no vowels!! Loved the section on Mondegreens, which are songs which are misheard - made me laugh. Is right up to date too, with information on texting etc. Great accompanying illustrations add real depth to the text. Loved Haley's Comma ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
What a fun word book! I know it's for kids but I really enjoyed it. The author starts with the origins of written language and goes all the way to LOLspeak, stopping at pangrams, mondegreens, doublespeak and more along the way. Her style is clear and engaging, and she uses funny examples of all the linguistic phenomena she discusses. There's a code that runs all the way through, building on the new topics, and the whimsical illustrations add to the enjoyment. Even if you're not a precocious twee ...more
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Ursula Dubosarsky is an award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. About The Golden Day, her first book with Candlewick Press, she says, "The little girls watch, wonder, respond, change, and grow — and then their childhood is gone, forever. This element of the story, I suppose, is at least partly autobiographical. But, as I say — all of our teachers come home safe and so ...more
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“Believe it or not, in 1969 the French writer Georges Perec wrote a palindromic story that was 500 words long! The whole story reads the same backwards as forwards.” 0 likes
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