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It's only words
on 1 August 2014
As other reviewers have mentioned, at around 15cm by 11cm, this book is a little on the teeny tiny side. It's easily misplaced and can occasionally even go on-the-run for several days at a time. Ah, but when you've got it surrounded, you too will be impressed by that incredible knack it has of being able to effortlessly entice its young audience into engaging with it.
The grateful recipient of it in my case was supposed to be a home-educated 9 year old but, thanks to a timely outbreak of sibling rivalry, it was actually her six year old sister who wrestled this from my manbag and quickly roped the nine year old into some quid pro quo spelling bee activities. To this day, the book is seen as a source of recreational enjoyment for the pair of them, rather than being anything remotely 'educational'. Which is unbelievable really, given the somewhat intimidating nature of some of its contents.
Actually, I noticed that Amazon seemed quite keen to keep those contents a secret and so, being something of a crusader for truth (that, and the inalienable right of all working men to wear a dress to the office if the weather warrants it. No? Oh well, that must just be me then), I took it upon myself to get a few snaps of one or two of the pages the last time I saw it in action. I apologise in advance for the strange shadow that appears on all of them. I suppose it must have been me, getting in the way of the light: although for some bizarre reason it looks rather more as though the photographer was shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants.
Anyway, the book contains 3200 'Everyday Words', arranged in six lists, which are aimed at children between the ages of 7 to 12: although, of course, those ages are purely arbitrary. The words are tackled in cleverly organised units, which help to emphasise different spelling patterns. According to the introduction, the 3200 words found within these 49 pages 'represent 80 to 90 per cent of those found in most books and newspapers'. The theory is that becoming familiar with that, surprisingly small, number of words will provide children with a large proportion of the spellings that they will ever come across in their day-to-day activities.
This publication seems to have been going since 1932, although the copy I bought was a reprint from 2003. Interestingly, the last two pages provide a 'List of New Words', which would appear to have been deemed important enough for the modern, more sophisticated, half-pint to get to grips with. I must say, it's a sad indictment of our times that the average eleven year old apparently needs to be able to spell 'everyday' things like 'fascist', 'racist' and 'terrorist' though.
One or two reviewers have said that this book does not represent good value for money and that similar lists of words are available to download free from the internet. All I can say is, the layout and size of this book definitely does appeal to children.
When they can find it.
And since (thankfully!) nobody has yet tried to humiliate ME with it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.