The Lost Words: A Spell Book

Front Cover
House of Anansi Press, Oct 2, 2018 - Art - 128 pages

Winner, CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

Finalist, Wainwright Prize



In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary -- widely used in schools around the world -- was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these "lost words" included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions -- the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual -- became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a "spell book" that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book -- a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.

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About the author (2018)

ROBERT MACFARLANE is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and the author of a number of bestselling and prize-winning books, including The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Holloway, and Landmarks. His work has been translated into many languages and widely adapted for film, television, and radio. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the E. M. Forster Award for Literature in 2017. He is a word-collector and mountain-climber -- and he has three young children who have taught him more about the world than any book.JACKIE MORRIS grew up in the Vale of Evesham and studied at Hereford College of Arts and at Bath Academy. She has illustrated for the New Statesman, the Independent, and the Guardian, collaborated with Ted Hughes, and has written and illustrated over forty books, including beloved classics such as The Snow Leopard, The Ice Bear, Song of the Golden Hare, Tell Me a Dragon, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and The Wild Swans. Jackie Morris lives in a cottage on the cliffs of Pembrokeshire.

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