The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus (affiliate link) by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet tells the story of a little boy who lost his father, moved a lot, and seemed to make sense of his world by writing lists. As a teen, inspired by the botanist Linnaeus, Roget made lists in the parks of London. He went to medical school, tutored in Paris, then settled in Manchester, England where he treated poor sick factory workers by day and worked on his lists at night. He finished his book of lists in 1805 which years later, after revisions and additions, he would publish as Thesaurus which means treasure house in Greek. He also lectured about his lists and finding just the right word which sounds an awful lot like a book tour of today and most likely helped his book gain popularity!
I happen to be a big fan of Melissa Sweet’s pencil drawing, watercolor, and collage illustrations probably going back to Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women. There is always something new to see on every page and her creative lettering is a perfect fit here! We also love biographies. It is so inspiring to read about real people achieving great things and Jen Bryant has a special talent for turning biological information into rich story storytelling as good or better than any fiction.
This book is a winner and if it has inspired you to open up a thesaurus here is fun companion activity…
Make a Good Story Great, Exceptional, Extraordinary, Magnificent with Roget’s Help!
- Print the following PDF: draw and write mini book printable
- Construct your mini book according to the included folding/cutting instructions
- Write your story in pencil, it doesn’t have to be all that exciting, the excitement will come later!
- Next illustrate your story however you like
- Finally replace one or two words per page with the help of your thesaurus
Now read your story back. Do you like it better? Is it more interesting? I know mine is! Here is a sample page. See if you can guess the two words I replaced.
I finished the wrapping, building, and shopping despite being sick. It turned out to be a splendid day and the rib roast was scrumptious!
I think there are people out there who can always retrieve the right word at the right time but for the rest of us there is the thesaurus. Thank you Peter Roget!
Did you know Scholastic makes a fun, educational, illustrated children’s thesaurus? My daughter’s second grade teacher had a copy. I think it would make a great gift for a child who likes to write (image is an Amazon affiliate link).
Do you have a favorite picture book biography? Please share!