Neither title nor subtitle quite indicates the limited scope of this amble through the origins, similarities, and differences among the languages American schoolchildren are most likely to encounter. Cooper dwells on the origins of English and the regional accents of the US, describes a baby learning to talk, samples the more conspicuous characteristics of languages likely to be studied here, and surveys other language groups--Hebrew and Arabic, oriental, American Indian languages, Esperanto; aside from a passing reference to Swahili, Africa is omitted. There's no attempt to be comprehensive; instead, the diversity among the world's 3000 languages is exemplified by interesting facts and comparisons that suggest the challenges and rewards of learning new languages. Cooper also doesn't always get facts straight (""by the year 2000, more people in the United States will speak Spanish than English""), and some of the condensed historical information will be tough going for children unfamiliar with the subject. Still, potentially useful for choosing a language to study, or in schools where more than one language is spoken. Kruse's cartoons dramatize some of our more bizarre modes of speech; a chart showing the relationships among languages, to which Cooper frequently refers, would have been useful. Glossary; index.