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The Word Snoop

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  133 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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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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So Ursula Dubosarsky’s 2007 The Word Snoop might indeed get better and less replete with factual linguistic (as well as historical) errors as her text progresses. However, I am not feeling at all patient today and after repeatedly having to read in the introductory section of The Word Snoop, after oh so often being confronted with and by Dubosarsky’s assertion in How it all began that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes supposedly all hailed from Germany and spoke German, I have decided to quit.

Yes, M
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
Jul 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Annoying style. Talks at the young reader in a sort of overly cosy, almost twee voice. Reminds me of nothing so much as the proverbial cheek-pinching aunts.

I do like the page of Anglo-Saxon words; since it can be argued that those are our most valuable words, the ones that speak to universal themes, it makes sense for the author to suggest that we make a poem from them. Here's a link to an online list, more extensive, and with some in context:

Ok done.

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
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
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
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
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jnf-400
As interesting for adults as it is for kids. I even learned several things I didn't know! It is a delightful romp through the English language. The author is Australian, but the book works perfectly fine for US English (and, I assume, Canadian English & UK English). She begins with the history of the alphabet, and continues with the vagaries of spelling and punctuation. Then she covers a variety of other topics, including anagrams, pangrams, acronyms, backronyms, palindromes, oxymorons, Pig Lati ...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. ...more
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. :) ...more
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! ...more
Parker Burden
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
The information was interesting, but the snarky writing style drove me crazy.
Kirsten Teng
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
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
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was written for kids in grade 5-8. But as English is my second language (while Chinese is my first), this book was a super fun read. I really enjoyed reading and learning all of the information concerning the history of alphabet, the exceptions of spellings, the puns and all the fun -isms appearing in the English language, many of which I am already familiar with but never know either their name or the history.

The writing style was full of humor and the word games provided by the auth
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Found this mis-shelved in the adult non-fiction section of my library, and took it home anyway.

I've read too many of this sort of book and so didn't feel like I learned much. I did learn about the "interrobang" a punctuation mark invented by Martin K. Speckter in 1962. It is especially for times when you want to use a question mark and an exclamation point all at once.

I think the author would have used the interrobang throughout the book if she could have. Her writing style was annoyingly chirpy
An interesting yet odd book. It doesn't seem to know who it's audience is... some of the content is relatively adult in it's imparted information but then some aspects, such as the humour and some stylistic aspects are seemingly aimed at a much younger audience?
Whilst enjoyable and informative I wish it could have settled on the audience one way or the other.
Sean Harding
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Okay, admittedly, this is not what I was hoping it would be, since I got it for me. But it is a good, solid summary of some of the more interesting aspects of the English language, and I’m definitely giving it to my kid.
This is fun and informative. Anything about words and language grabs my attention, so this was a treat, with plenty of history, facts and interesting tidbits about the letters we use everyday. Great for my creative writing workshop.
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be created as a junior nonfiction title, but grownups will still find it fun and educational. An entertaining introduction to quirky, smart and fascinating elements of the English language.
Debbie Williams
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly good read for an information book.
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.
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.
Amy Butler
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is written for kids but I really enjoyed it. I learned lots of new things about language that I didn’t know before. It’s a fun book.
Sarah Loft
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a gem this book! Fun, informative and helpful. Loved it. I already have a list of people I plan to recommend/lend it to.
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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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