CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 22. . . . February 9, 2018
Words are new only once. Once familiar, words can give their user the power to articulate their thoughts, express their autonomy, and give shape to their dreams. For young ones, though, this process can be very frustrating – it can take years to become comfortable with words because of uncontrollable mitigating factors. Accordingly, The Word Collector is a perfect picture book for those who want to see the magic that words possess and experience the thrill of learning and making words your own.
Jerome collects words that he hears, sees, and reads by writing them down in his numerous books according to their strict category (e.g. poetry, science, zoology, etc.). During one eventful afternoon trip, his collected words scatter, but this accident inspires him with a brilliant idea: share the joy of words with others instead of keeping his words to himself, locked away like an unread book. The latter half of the story escalates this idea by exploring how words not only help you gain a voice, but how, by letting you express yourself, they can help you inspire others to find their voices too. The diversity of words nicely reflects the diversity of characters, illustrating the power that comes with diversification, in all its rich variety of meanings. There is a word for everyone; you just have to find yours.
Reynolds, as he has done with past projects, offers readers a great moral: increasing your vocabulary allows you to empower yourself. This picture book is especially suitable for repeat readings because, as Jerome’s words become more familiar to the reader – as they will inevitable reappear in other contexts – word stratification will satisfactorily occur. Few picture books have this (re)readability inherent in their narrative. I’ve read The Word Collector numerous times myself – it confirms that, each time I learn a new word, I learn something new about myself.
Lonnie Freedman is a Youth Services Librarian at Vaughan Public Libraries in Vaughan, ON.