The Word Collector

"Some people collect coins. Others collect rocks.... And Jerome?" Jerome collects words. Like a reporter going after a story, young Jerome jots down words while conversing with a friend; when he spies a juicy one in an advertisement; and, of course, while he's reading. Like any collector, he sees beauty in his conquests. Even when he doesn't know what a particular word means, it's still "marvelous to say."

One day, while Jerome is carrying a towering stack of scrapbooks containing words catalogued by theme ("Weather," "French," Whispery" and so on), he trips, and the books go flying. His collection of words scatter: "Big words next to little words. Sad words next to dreamy words." Jerome begins "stringing words together" and discovers poetry. It all sounds rather abstract, but throughout The Word Collector, Peter H. Reynolds has hand-lettered each of Jerome's words on a yellow rectangle representing a slip of paper, giving the boy's treasures a look as concrete and enticing as candy bars.

We've come to expect ebullience from Reynolds, the author-illustrator of books like The Dot, Sky Color and Happy Dreamer, and The Word Collector doesn't disappoint. After Jerome pulls his collection by wagon up a hill so that he can release it into the wind, he has "no words to describe how happy" it makes him to see kids scrambling to pick up the words as if they are dollar bills. Of course, by this point there's a good chance that Reynolds has convinced readers that words have more value than cash. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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