See into the past and discover how English evolved from more than 350 languages.
In this fanciful book about etymology, 15-year-old Jill Boswell and her 13-year-old brother, Alex, are sent to summer camp in a bizarre badlands region -- the only place in the world where words are fossilized in rock. Armed with water bottles, spades and backpacks, the campers hike from ridge to ridge in search of their ancient quarry. The budding word hounds soon realize they are on an amazing journey of discovery.
Traveling through the mountains of fossilized words -- from ancient Greece (television, demon, gorilla, catastrophe) to Spain (mosquito, ten-gallon, burrito) and from the language of the Goths (heathen, home, haunt) to Dutch (booze, dock, pickle, cookie) -- they find that even current words like podcast and gossip originated hundreds of years ago!
Illustrations by Kathryn Adams capture the fun of the word expedition and celebrate the joy of language sleuthing.
Mark Abley is an acclaimed author, poet, journalist, travel writer, essayist and editor. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages, a New York Times Notable Book. He lives in Montreal.
Kathryn Adams is a freelance illustrator whose work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across North America. She lives in Toronto.
Teachers can easily pull out bits and pieces for some lively discussions on the meaning of words. Teachers can easily pull out bits and pieces for some lively discussions on the meaning of words.
Author Mark Abley does a good job of choosing words from different language groups and eras. He goes beyond the usual suspects (Latin, Saxon, Greek), including the extinct language of Old Norse and languages from indigenous peoples of North America and Australia. His word selection has contemporary relevance, exploring the roots and evolution of words such as umpire, nickname, parka, bikini, and weird, to name a few. Abley is at his strongest in the sections From the Desk of Dr. James Murray, in which short histories of various words are presented in the form of a memo from the camp director... Camp Fossil Eyes is nicely laid out and enhanced by Kathryn Adams' spot illustrations which break up the text and bring a lot of fun to the page. Overall, I enjoyed the information in the book.
Abley's passion for etymology is evident, and he weaves some truly fascinating facts into his narrative.