Review Blog

Aug 02 2019

David Astle's 101 weird words (and 3 fakes) by David Astle

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760633660.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Themes: Humour, Words, Definitions. I enjoyed looking up words like 'Manticore' and 'Rambunctious' and 'Illeism' and 'Humblebrag', delving into the precise and easily understood definitions given by David Astle, of SBS's 'Letters and Numbers' fame. He also has written books about words, speaks on radio about words and makes puzzles for newspapers. All to do with his love of words.
And we are lucky that he has published a book of some of his favourite words, and to confuse the reader he has included three fake words to trick us. Starting with 'ambidextrous' and finishing with 'zugzwang', words like 'kvetch' and 'lambent' and 'paraph' will stump even the most hardened of word watchers. And they don't even get a red underlining in Word!
Kids will be amused, teachers will have fun throwing in the occasional word, class quizzes will be recharged using this little book. I loved simply reading random pages, and I'm sure others will too.
Illustrations by Paul Tippett add to the humorous writing, and the word facts and mysteries will keep readers happy.
One of my favourites is 'pareidolia'. I always wanted to know the term for the faces seen on the moon or on a piece of toast, and here is just that word. And its a real word, no red line. David tells us that it comes from the Greek meaning wrong-image, and a girl in Miami thought she saw Jesus on her toast and sold it for $28,000 on ebay. With facts like these, the book is a treat.
Fran Knight

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