An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster's Spelling Revolution

By: Beth Anderson

Illustrator: Elizabeth Baddeley

Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.
In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.
Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.
Author’s note. Research note. Illustrator’s note. Quotation sources. Bibliography. Full-color illustrations rendered using a mix of traditional and digital media.

ISBN: 9781534405554

JLG Release: Dec 2018


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Noah Webster (1758–1843) , Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) , English language , Orthography and spelling , Spelling reform , Americanisms , US history , Biography

$17.05  Member Price


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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

Anderson builds on readers’ familiarity with the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin to deliver a lively account of how Franklin teamed up with Noah Webster to help create an English spelling system unique to people in the United States. There was much trial and error and many failed ideas around creating a new alphabet, with many of the co Anderson builds on readers’ familiarity with the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin to deliver a lively account of how Franklin teamed up with Noah Webster to help create an English spelling system unique to people in the United States. There was much trial and error and many failed ideas around creating a new alphabet, with many of the concepts proposed facing strong criticism and outright rejection by the public. It was not until long after Franklin’s death that Webster finally publish his first ever Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. The combination of bold illustrations, humorous anecdotes, and fabulous storytelling makes this true tale anything but boring. It provides a much-needed introduction to the art of spelling and dictionaries while remaining engaging and well paced. Despite discussing wordsmiths from over 200 years ago, Anderson delicately balances Franklin and Webster’s dreams with grade-level appropriate vocabulary and readability. VERDICT The potentially dry topic of American English etymology is transformed into a delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated tale that will have readers rooting for the success of the dictionary. Most collections will want to consider.–Emily Beasley, Omaha Public Schools, School Library Journal

Book Details

ISBN

9781534405554

First Release

December 2018

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

428.1/3 B

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Page Count

48

Accelerated Reader

Level 3.9; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level 680L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Paula Wiseman

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Noah Webster (1758–1843), Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), English language, Orthography and spelling, Spelling reform, Americanisms, US history, Biography,

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