Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 9.03.14

NF PB 2014

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

"Long ago Peter had discovered the power of words.  Now he believed that everyone should have this power - everyone should be able to find the right word whenever they needed it."

Jen Bryant's (author) and Melissa Sweet's (illustrator) most recent collaboration, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is simply put, brilliant.  Each time these two get together, every reader is taken on a journey - a journey that helps us take in new knowledge and enjoy a visual experience like no other.

Everyone has used a thesaurus at some point or the other.  But what is the story behind this "list of words"?  For most of us, it's a question we probably don't ponder as we use this book to help us write or speak a bit more eloquently.  What is the story of the man behind these lists?  The Right Word helps us understand how this book came about as well as the story of the man who began collecting his word lists at age eight.

Giving us just the right amount of back story to Mr. Roget, Bryant crafts her words into a story that Mr. Roget would be proud of.  It was interesting to see Mr. Roget's quirks and the way his mind thought and made sense of the world around him.  Bryant includes a fantastic timeline that gives further information about the inventions and other contributions Mr. Roget made during his lifetime.

A page that stood out to me to go back and read closely for writer's craft was the page that Bryant talks about how his lists weren't scribbles.  She writes, "And when he put them in long, neat rows, he felt as if the world itself clicked into order."  That sentence is powerful, but it is printed one to two words per line, similar to a list.  Having students think about how Roget thought in this manner, in lists, and how the words are so powerful would be an interesting discussion to be had in class!

Sweet's illustrations, as always, are a visual treat because there are so many layers to go through on every page.  From the intricate endpages to the borders and outsides of each main picture.  There is always a central illustration to each page, but then she includes smaller details set on the side of the main illustration to add additional learning and understanding to compliment Bryant's words.

Both Bryant and Sweet include a note in the back giving insight to their research and process in putting this book together.  Sweet also includes a visual of materials used in her illustrations, including paper, watercolors, miscellaneous tools, brush, pen and pencil.

After reading this book, you can't help but have a new appreciation for the thesaurus.  Next time I pick one up or use a digital version, I'll think of the man with his book of lists.


  1. I need to buy this right now! I love Jen Bryant/Melissa Sweet collaborations!

  2. Can't wait to get this one, Michele. Lucky that you have a copy. Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet do such wonderful work!

  3. Great author/illustrator, great topic! Definitely looking forward to this one too.

  4. I love everything that Melissa sweet does - will avidly be on the look out for this one.