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Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary Review by Lori Hooten

Mrs. Wordsmith

Storytelling is inherent for children. The company, Mrs. Wordsmith, has reimagined what a dictionary looks like to foster growth among storytellers and writers. Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary is bright, colorful, and completely different from any dictionary out there. Created by a team of self-titled word nerds and word warriors, the dictionary comes to life through the illustrations of Hollywood character designer and story artist Craig Kellman. This hardback book is a bit heavy for its size of 7x8 inches. Yet with more than 350 semi-glossy pages with bright colors and fun illustrations, this is an inspirational dictionary that will get students interested in words.

Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary has over 4,000 illustrated definitions to help writers with elevating their impact. The words have been curated to choose words that students will experience most often in literature. These words are all centered around one of six different themes. The themes are action, character, emotion, setting, taste and smell, and weather. Each theme has a different color in the dictionary. Each section in the book has a colored tab at the edge of each page to help easily find each theme.

Within each of the six themes, the words are grouped by types of words. For example, under action, the words are further grouped by chaotic words, fight or battle words, hard-working words, looking words, relaxing words, running words, speaking words, walking words, and wet words. Each of these has 4 pages of words. Six words are illustrated and include the part of speech, definition, and some suggested words to pair it with. There are also examples of how the word pairs go together. These illustrations are followed by two pages of additional words for the category.

Each category also includes illustrated word pair suggestions. These are nouns that fit the theme of one of the sections, such as character. Around the circular illustration of the word, there are three suggested word pairs. For example, one of the nouns in the "clever character nouns" section is mentor. The illustration shows an owl sheltering a small blue bird beneath his wing and the owl appears to be talking. The word pair suggestions include wise, lifelong, and spiritual.

After the six themed groupings, there is a word pair glossary. This 29-page glossary lists all the words used as suggested words to pair with the nouns. It gives the part of speech, though most are adjectives and a definition. Following the glossary, there is an index. This lists the page numbers where the words are found in the dictionary. It also color codes the ones that are illustrated in each section so that you can find those more easily.

There are several ways the Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary could be used. It is a lovely book to just sit and look through, reading all the words, the word pairings, and observing the hilarious and fun illustrations.  This is a common use in our home.

It can be used to find word options when working on a story. Searching for a word by theme is another way to use the dictionary. When writing and the need for a weather word comes up, the writer only needs to evaluate what kind of weather word is needed. Then flipping to the weather word options, choices can be made by going to the pages of weather words and just looking, or the options can be narrowed by choosing a type of word needed, such as words for cloudy, cold, hot, extreme, or windy.

A third way to use the dictionary is to know what word is desired and then use the word pairings by theme to determine which word to use with the chosen noun.

Or perhaps the word to be used is already known but there is a need to verify that it is the correct word. Using the index or the word pairings glossary, the words can be checked. If a new word is needed, then it is easy to open the dictionary to the indicated page for the theme and type of word and browse what else is available.

With the unique approach to presenting word options, writers and storytellers will be able to create amazingly interesting stories. By grouping the words together based on their use and purpose, writers can search more directly for what they really need. The Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary by Mrs. Wordsmith is a handy reference book to keep around for budding writers and storytellers, as well as more seasoned writers.

-Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2019