Review & Author Blog: Literally / Patrick Skipworth

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations

This week marks the publication of Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth and Nicholas Stevenson, and today is our stop on the blog tour.

Read on for a review of Literally and then head over to author Patricks's guest booklist featuring 5 favourite children's books about words.

Book Title: Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From (available here)

Author: Patrick Skipworth

Illustrator: Nicholas Stevenson

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Publication Date: May 2020


Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From is the latest eye-catching non-fiction offering from the team at What on Earth Books - this time covering the interesting topic of word origins.

Picking out a host of familiar words, the book delves into each word's origins and meanings through double-page spreads that combine bite-sized chunks of knowledge with artwork that sets each word into an illustrated scene to give added visual context. The selection of words are chosen to demonstrate how the topic of linguistics can entertain as well as inform - it was fun, for example, to find out that the word ukulele means, ‘jumping flea’, so named because of the movement of the player’s fingers that appear to bounce like the jumping of fleas. Similarly interesting was how the word companion comes from the Latin for ‘with bread’ - meaning a good friend who you could share your lunch with. There are some surprises too - like where the word mummy used for preserved bodies really comes from, or the reason why scholars from hundreds of years ago would write ‘empty’ as the answer to some of their mathematical equations.

The book serves as an interesting introduction to linguistics that is best suited for dipping in and out of or flicking between the pages. The high ratio of illustrations to text gives a strong visual element, telling the stories behind the words as well as subtly drawing out the connections and layers of history behind each word origin. Each word chosen has a real sense of journey to it, building up across the anthology to emphasise the rich diversity of the English language and its heritage, which spans a multitude of ages and cultures across the globe.

Guest Post

Click here to read Patrick Skipworth's guest booklist featuring 5 favourite children's books about words.


You can order Literally online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publishers at What on Earth Books for sending us a review copy and to Patrick for providing the guest post. Check out the other stops on the blog tour, too.


Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> View our printable year group booklists.

> See our Books of the Month.


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