Cover image for An inconvenient alphabet : Ben Franklin and Noah Webster's spelling revolution
Title:
An inconvenient alphabet : Ben Franklin and Noah Webster's spelling revolution

Ben Franklin and Noah Webster's spelling revolution
Title:
An inconvenient alphabet : Ben Franklin and Noah Webster's spelling revolution
Edition:
First Edition.
Publisher Info:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2018]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm.
General Note:
"A Paula Wiseman Book."
Abstract:
Details the origins of Noah Webster's first American English dictionary and the struggles of Webster and Ben Franklin to help unify the new country through language in the 1780s.
Added Author:

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Library
Call Number
Material Type
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J 428.13 ANDE New or Popular Picture Book
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J 428.13 ANDE New or Popluar Book Juv Nonfiction
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Summary

Summary

"Delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated ." -- School Library Journal
" Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Thought-provoking and entertaining." -- School Library Connection
"Engaging...A comprehensible, lively read." -- Publishers Weekly

Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Debut author Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent , Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet.

Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn't match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.

In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.

Children today will be delighted to learn that when they "sound out" words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.


Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Anderson builds on readers' familiarity with the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin to deliver a lively account of how Franklin teamed up with Noah Webster to help create an English spelling system unique to people in the United States. There was much trial and error and many failed ideas around creating a new alphabet, with many of the concepts proposed facing strong criticism and outright rejection by the public. It was not until long after Franklin's death that Webster finally publish his first ever Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. The combination of bold illustrations, humorous anecdotes, and fabulous storytelling makes this true tale anything but boring. It provides a much-needed introduction to the art of spelling and dictionaries while remaining engaging and well paced. Despite discussing wordsmiths from over 200 years ago, Anderson delicately balances Franklin and Webster's dreams with grade-level appropriate vocabulary and readability. VERDICT The potentially dry topic of American English etymology is transformed into a delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated tale that will have readers rooting for the success of the dictionary. Most collections will want to consider.-Emily Beasley, Omaha Public Schools © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Anderson's debut picture book details the origins of Noah Webster's first American English dictionary and the struggles of Webster and Benjamin Franklin to help unify the new country through language in the 1780s. After laboring alone to streamline American English, the men meet and agree that the dawn of a new nation should also mean the dawn of a new kind of English for its citizens-one that would allow them to understand one another. "Some spoke like the king of England, others like backwoodsmen, and many barely spoke English at all." The pair join forces over what proves a near-impossible task. Lighthearted illustrations by Baddeley (I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark) feature large, colorful letters that are juggled, balanced, passed around, and left in a crumpled heap as a befuddled citizenry questions and scorns the men's proposals. Other touches, such as the changing expressions of the cameos hanging on Webster's wall, keep the story engaging. With back matter that includes an extensive bibliography, this history succeeds in distilling the sophisticated subject of early American English lexicography into a comprehensible, lively read. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Anyone learning to read and write English, whether as a first or second language, is struck by the inconsistencies involved. Letters make varying sounds. Spellings have rules that must be memorized. What people may not realize, however, is that Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster teamed up in the early days of the U.S. to try to simplify such matters. Franklin developed a new alphabet with more specific sounds, while Webster advocated eliminating what he considered ""unnecessary extras,"" such as silent letters. The illustrations, rendered using a mix of traditional and digital media as well as partially hand-lettered text, depict Franklin and Webster going about their business with large, three-dimensional alphabet letters bobbing around them like excited pets. Demonstrating perseverance, Franklin and Webster did not succeed completely in convincing others to adopt their point of view, but they did simplify some spellings, and Webster's dictionary was instrumental in making the language more consistent. An extensive bibliography and notes section details the work behind the scenes to make the book factual as well as entertaining.--Lucinda Whitehurst Copyright 2018 Booklist