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edition:Hardcover
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published: Sep 2009
ISBN:9781554511815
publisher: Annick Press

Camp Fossil Eyes

Digging for the Origins of Words

by Mark Abley, illustrated by Kathryn Adams

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ancient civilizations
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $19.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
published: Sep 2009
ISBN:9781554511815
publisher: Annick Press
Description

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.

 

Contributor Notes

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.

 

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
9 to 11
Grade:
4 to 6
Editorial Reviews

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.

— Canadian Children's Book News

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.

— Canadian Materials

Abley's passion for etymology is evident, and he weaves some truly fascinating facts into his narrative.

— School Library Journal

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Camp Fossil Eyes: Digging for the Origins of Words

Here is another book on the origins of our English words. In this case, the publisher has opted for a more kid-friendly approach to the subject than in our previous book. Two characters, Jill and her younger brother, Alex, are sent off to summer camp. But it is not just any camp, it is Camp Fossil Eyes, where the kids spend their days trekking through badlands searching for “word rocks.” For every word fossil, we are given an explanation of its meaning. The author skips from indigenous languages to modern words, then takes us back to Old English, French, Norse, Dutch, Latin, Persian, Spanish, Greek and finally to the origins of the Indo-European languages. The story is told in the form of letters home from Jill and Alex and their camp counsellor to their parents. There are also sections, “From the Desk of Dr. James Murray,” the camp director, with more in-depth discussion on various words.

This book is geared to a younger audience than Gorrell’s book. It includes lots of colour illustrations. Kids can read the story through, learning a lot about words and the development of English along the way. It would work as a read-aloud, and teachers can easily pull out bits and pieces for some lively discussions on the meaning of words.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2010. Vol.33 No.3.

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