The Return of the Word Spy

By Latham, Gloria | Practically Primary, February 2012 | Go to article overview

The Return of the Word Spy


Latham, Gloria, Practically Primary


THE RETURN OF THE WORD SPY

Ursula Dubosarsky

We couldn't stop the Word Spy from returning--she was very determined. When Tohby Riddle and I, Jane Godwin (publisher) and Tegan Morrison (editor) met for lunch to celebrate the publication of The Word Spy, we raised a glass and before we knew it, the Word Spy herself had sidled into a chair and then into the conversation. And she had SO much more to talk about.

Language families! Sign languages! Braille! Etymology! Parts of speech! Grammar! She just had to have another book.

We all agreed strongly that the sequel needed to be something other than a simple continuation or 'more of the same'. The Word Spy would seek out adventures in new and wonderful places. Finding the information, while time-consuming, was perhaps the simpler task, a matter of searching through my mind and memory, in books, newspapers, on the internet of course, in songs, stories, poems, conversations, games--well, wherever words are found, which means just about everywhere. Then I needed to turn all this information into the Word Spy's insanely chirpy and curious voice, which was not so bad either, as on the subject of words I tend to be insanely chirpy and curious myself.

Discovering the flow of the book was harder; how to make the reader turn the pages with a sense of continuing suspense and connection. Just as in writing a novel there are thousands of different ways information can be presented in terms of order and emphasis. I found the best way was to imagine a group of children sitting in front of me, staring at me, listening, thinking. My guiding principle was--what would a child ask next, given their current state of knowledge of the world? And what would they ask after that? And after that? That was how the book found its shape.

We're all so happy the Word Spy returned to spend some more time with us, and are delighted it's been shortlisted by the CBC. Tohby's illustrations again are so wonderfully apt and funny--it's impossible to imagine the books without his wry and touching wisdom. You'll probably not be surprised to hear that no sooner had we finished The Return of the Word Spy that we heard another knock on the door.

'You know what you need now?' said the Word Spy as she tumbled inside. 'An activity book!'

Back to work, team!

Following the exciting adventure trail of Word Spy, its sequel, The Return of the Word Spy, continues to leave laugh prints all over the pages that can be followed in many directions with clues inspected and investigated in greater detail. …

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