An encouraging primer that ought to spark interest for further study.



Both fundamentals and peculiarities of language are introduced in this light-handed survey.

There are many facets to the subject, and Isabella manages to hit on a good handful of the more engaging ones. Grammar and syntax, which can be real snoozers, are treated with a measure of humor by mixing up the word order. She tackles the importance of the right vocal equipment and the still-curious role of genetics. But it is when she starts in on words, languages and language families that things really start to get fascinating: There are almost 7,000 languages and that “[n]inety percent of written English uses only 7000 words,” just a fraction of those available. Or that a good number of languages do not have a word for the color blue. It is one of the less important colors when it comes to survival, evidently. Go figure. She covers language extinction without getting too down at the mouth, and she has some fun with the dreaded legalese—“res ipsa loquitor”—as well as the creation of new words, from “kidnapping” to “bargainous.” Isabella’s writing doesn’t rush matters; she explains thoroughly but not tediously. On the other hand, Boake’s artwork—with its taxidermist’s eyes and hyperbuffed coloring—feels like it is trying too hard to be hip.

An encouraging primer that ought to spark interest for further study. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-787-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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            Growing up in Warsaw with Mr. Singer offers more than a day of pleasure to families who joined him In My Father’s Court, from which fourteen of these nineteen episodes are adapted.  But the elevenish contemporary of “Itchele” who lacks the East European frame of reference that these autobiographical sketches demand may have trouble relating to the bittersweetness of the Hasidic upbringing as the lonely son of the rabbi of Krochmalna Street; to his mysterious joy-fear on contemplating the Cabala; to the esoteric character of his family’s Jewish orthodoxy; to the distance between Jew and Gentile so absolute and so very enduring…Mr. Singer’s words as Grandfather-storyteller are best read aloud and interpreted by a grandfather who shares his memories, who can communicate Singer’s hindsights with the authority and spirit of his insights, who can mediate between Singer’s remoteness to the child and his greatness.                       9-11

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0374416966

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1969

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