WALLY THE WORDWORM by Clifton Fadiman


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The Auk and the Yak and the Cassowary--They're all to be discovered in the Dictionary!... So--down with the books that treat me like a baby! Chuck 'em out the window and I don't mean maybe!"" is the moral of this story about Wally, a worm who lives on words. In his search for variety, he comes upon a dictionary in which he discovers such tongue trippers as syzygy, pyx, sesquipedalian, and zymurgy. (Many of these words are not defined but are left up to the reader to look up, or to guess, at the meaning.) Wally also learns that words can be played with through puns, riddles, and palindromes. There is practically no story-line to these verses, but Clifton Fadiman's crusade for literacy is well-meaning if somewhat patronizing. Whether young readers will be willing to pursue this book, which looks like a picture-book, is dubious. Teachers may fall for this as a comical, play-oriented lesson plan on the use of the dictionary. However, for this age and readable fun with words, we prefer James Kruss' My Grandfather and I reported in this issue on p. 592. The cartoonist illustrations in bright colors are by Arnold Roth, whose limber Wally twists himself into words for the text.

Publisher: Macmillan