Cover image for The lost words : a spell book / Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris.
The lost words : a spell book / Robert Macfarlane, Jackie Morris.
Publication Information:
Toronto : Anansi, 2018.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : colour illustrations ; 38 cm
"All over the country, there are words disappearing from children's lives. These are the words of the natural world--dandelion, otter, bramble and acorn, all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children's minds. The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages."--$cProvided by publisher.
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
821.92 MAC Book Junior Collection
821.92 MAC Book Junior Collection

On Order




In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary -- widely used in schools around the world -- was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these "lost words" included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions -- the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual -- became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a "spell book" that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book -- a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.

Author Notes

Robert Macfarlane is the author of Landmarks which made the Samuel Johnson Prize 2015 shortlist.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A deeply reflective and gorgeously illustrated oversize volume lists natural words that were excluded from the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, among them dandelion, heron, willow, and wren (replacement words in that text include broadband and blog). Nature and travel writer Macfarlane offers "a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words" and transforms each inclusion into a marvelous lyrical acrostic; Morris's paintings of wildlife echo the complexity and vibrancy of Macfarlane's poetry. For the word starling, the named bird, painted in detail, perches on a branch against a gold background, while the acrostic begins: "Should green-as-moss be mixed with/ blue-of-steel be mixed with gleam-of-gold/ you'd still fall short by far of the - / Tar-bright oil-slick sheen and/ gloss of starling wing." The duo captures mystery and magic throughout, offering up "spells of many kinds that might just, by the old, strong magic of being spoken aloud... summon lost words back." All ages. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.