Reviews for The right word : Roget and his thesaurus

by by Jen Bryant ; illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

The award-winning team behind A River of Words takes on the story of British physician Peter Mark Roget, author of the eponymous thesaurus. Bryant draws a clear line from the dislocations of Roget's youth-the death of his father in 1783 and the family's frequent moves thereafter-to his need for order as he starts making lists of words. "Words, Peter learned, were powerful things. And when he put them into long, neat rows, he felt as if the world itself clicked into order." Yet Roget wasn't merely a reclusive scholar. He meant for his thesaurus to have a democratizing effect: "I want everyone to be able to use my word book, not just doctors, politicians, and lawyers, but cobblers, fishmongers, and factory workers." Sweet envisions Roget's work as a shadow box crammed with the wonders of the natural world, adorned with exuberant hand-lettered typography. Together with Bryant's sympathetic account, Sweet's gentle riot of images and words humanizes the man behind this ubiquitous reference work and demystifies the thesaurus itself. Ages 7-up. Author's agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Bryant's and Sweet's talents combine to make the lowly thesaurus fascinating in this beautifully illustrated picture-book biography of Peter Mark Roget. Born in the late eighteenth century, shy Roget was prone to wandering alone and began keeping lists of words at a young age. Even as he went to medical school and became a talented and respected physician, he still kept his book of word lists, gradually improving on the concept until he published his first thesaurus, classified thematically rather than alphabetically as it is today, in 1852. Echoing Roget's obsession with words, Sweet's intricate and elaborate collage illustrations made out of textbooks, graph paper, maps, fabric, typewriter keys, and other found objects put words on center stage. Lists in wildly expressive handwritten fonts along with cut-paper assemblages stuff the dynamic pages, even the appended time line and endpapers, with arresting detail. Pivotal moments in Roget's life get a similar treatment: terms related to plants bloom in tendrils around a watercolor illustration of Roget on one of his many walks. In brilliant pages teeming with enthusiasm for language and learning, Bryant and Sweet (A Splash of Red, 2013) joyfully celebrate curiosity, the love of knowledge, and the power of words.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. Bryant's linear telling follows Peter closely, expressing his curiosity, sensitivity, and populist spirit in language both decorous and warm. Clever book design and visionary illustration add layers of meaning. Sweet embellishes her own gentle watercolors with all manner of clippings and realia. Reading list, timeline. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 2-5-Those who have relied upon a thesaurus (meaning treasure house in Greek), either in print or through the tool menu of word processing software, will gain a greater appreciation for the reference tool in this beautifully designed picture book biography of its creator, Peter Roget. Bryant describes bibliophile Roget, taking him from a timid, studious child who was always compiling lists to an accomplished doctor who by 1805 had compiled the beginnings of the first thesaurus. Busy and exuberant, Sweet's charming watercolor illustrations, layered over collages of vintage images and fonts, capture Roget's passion for classification while also providing readers new opportunities for discovery (Latin translations of animal names, mathematical terms, and a plethora of synonyms). Expertly researched and well written, Bryant's narrative not only details the creation of the thesaurus; it also conveys a sense of Roget the man: his shy nature, his keen intelligence, and his passion for knowledge. There truly was a particular blend of artistry and intellect that went into Roget's book, as evidenced from a reproduced page from the original thesaurus. The book contains extensive back matter, including an incredibly detailed time line that goes into the man's other inventions (the slide rule, the pocket chess set) and an author and illustrator's note, as well as Roget quotations that are sure to inspire if not a love of language then at least a search for the perfect turn of phrase. An excellent illustrated biography.-Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

After award-winning collaborations about poet William Carlos Williams and artist Horace Pippin, Bryant and Sweet return to investigate the life of Peter Mark Roget. Born in London in 1779, Roget was plagued by lifelong setbacks. His father died early; his mother was unstable. Frequent moves and pronounced shyness engendered solace in books. Partial to classifying his knowledge and experiences, Peter composed his first book of lists by age 8. Inspired by the taxonomy of Swedish physician and botanist Linnaeus, teenage Peter studied medicine in Scotland, eventually establishing a practice in London, and he worked on a book of word classifications, completing it in 1805 for his own reference. Roget lectured, invented (the slide rule and the pocket chess set) and, inspired by the publication of several contemporary, inferior books of lists, returned to his own. His Thesaurus, published in 1852 and nurtured by his descendants, has never gone out of print. Bryant's prose is bright and well-tuned for young readers. She goes gently, omitting Roget's darkest traumas, such as witnessing his uncle's suicide. Sweet tops herselfagain!visually reflecting Roget's wide range as a thinker and product of the Enlightenment. Injecting her watercolor palette with shots of teal, scarlet and fuchsia, Sweet embeds vintage bits (ledger paper, type drawers, botanical illustrations and more), creating a teeming, contemplative, playfully celebratory opus. In a word: marvelous! (chronology, author's and illustrator's notes, selected bibliography, suggested reading, quotation sources, photograph of manuscript page) (Picture book/biography. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Back