The Right Word, review by Melissa Fox
Biographies for kids can be a tricky thing. The author needs to get the right balance between informative and simple enough to understand. And the illustrations need to be interesting enough to engage the reader/listener and keep their attention.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus does all that spectacularly (remarkably, exceptionally) well.
Bryant and Sweet follow Peter Mark Roget's life, from his birth in 1779 through his education as a doctor and establishing a practice in London. Though it all, however, Roget kept a book of words. The thing that made Roget's book of words so unique (different, peculiar) -- besides the fact that there were more than 260,000 words in there -- , was that rather than
organizing the words alphabetically, Roget organized them by topic. The fact that he was compelled (obliged, obligated) to do this -- in spite of a busy medical practice;he didn't actually publish his thesaurus until 1852 -- is interesting (curious, impressive) in itself.
But in Bryant and Sweet's, Roget's story becomes fascinating (engrossing, absorbing, captivating). Bryant picks out the highlights of Roget's life; just enough engage (engross, fascinate) her readers, but not so much that they become overwhelmed (repulsed) or bored (disinterested). And Sweet's illustrations are vibrant (dynamic, lively), busy without feeling crowded, scattered throughout with vintage bits (paper, type drawers, and botanical
drawings, among others). It's a perfect (splendid, impeccable, superb) melding of talents.
Splendid (magnificent, marvelous) for young readers.