Shakespeare is responsible for so many words and phrases we use today, whether we know of their origins or not. Today’s featured book – Will’s Words – explores those words delightfully!
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The Book: Will’s Words
Title: Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk
Author: Jane Sutcliffe
Illustrator: John Shelley
Length: 40 pages
Genre: Children’s Literary Biographies (7 – 10 years, and up)
Publisher: Charlesbridge (March 22, 2016)
Source: Originally, digital review copies from NetGalley and Edelweiss + Currently, my personal copy
Description: Jane Sutcliffe writes about Shakespeare, his plays, and his famous phrases with glee, and using many of his very own words and phrases!! And as readers turn the pages, they discover that “the long and the short of it” is this: Will changed the English language forever.
Our Thoughts on Will’s Words
So my younger teen is currently reading Romeo and Juliet as part of her high-school required reading; and she has a love-hate relationship with it. She is not loving that it takes longer to understand the words with all the ‘thee’ing and ‘thou’ing and more. But then again, it is Romeo and Juliet, and Shakespeare! And I love that I can talk to her about a book which is different from what she normally reads (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and etcs!!)
Well, she is yet to read the book but I am going to add her thoughts here soon!
My older teen’s thoughts
The book is surely a unique concept. While I was aware that Shakespeare invented many words, I thought many were more ‘nonce-words’ – created specifically for the work, and not used elsewhere or after. This book certainly taught me that was not the case, and that we owe many commonplace words to Will. I also enjoyed the illustrations, and loved how the narrative weaves back and forth between biography and word origins. Overall the book made me realize how pervasive Will’s words are even today.
I loved this book! How could I not? It is about word origins, one of the greatest known writers ever, and with a little bit of history thrown in along with the workings of the Globe Theater itself. We also get many glimpses of the theater and of London at the time through Shelley’s detailed illustrations.
Sutcliffe uses one of Will’s words or phrases in her narrative, and then expounds on it. She gives a brief explanation of what the word meant then, and how it has evolved over time (if applicable); and she includes where it came from — the play, act and scene. It is totally a fun read that takes us on a journey of Will’s words; and of how people came to the plays, and left not only with memories of the stories but armed with a richer vocabulary that has since become part of our everyday lives.
And of course I have to mention John Shelley’s illustrations!!! They are incredibly rich and detailed. As we turn the pages, we are transported to the Bard’s world, to the Globe theatre, and to London of Will’s time. I love how the artwork portrays all the hustle and bustle of London and the theatre, and does it so beautifully.
And the Rest
Sutcliffe addresses her readers in must-read notes both at the beginning and the end, and I was charmed by them. In addition, the book includes a timeline and detailed bibliography.
Check out the publisher provided activity guide along with its answer key. I also loved the wonderful set of activities provided by SLJ’s ClassroomBookShelf here.
Forsooth a wond’rful addition to any bookshelf!! [translated to Definitely a wonderful addition to any bookshelf]
Get It Here
Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Book Depository || BookShop || IndieBound
- A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories
- Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers
- Tower of the Five Orders: The Shakespeare Mysteries, Book 2
- Poetry for Kids: William Shakespeare (Poetry for Kids)
- Words Shakespeare Invented (external site)
- Folger Shakespeare Library (external site)
- Shakespeare’s Globe (external site)
Will’s Words in Limericks
While the limerick(short, pithy five-liners with the rhyme structure AABBA) always brings to mind Edward Lear, the bard had his limerick-al say too; in this drinking song from Othello (Act II, scene III), which is also a short, pithy five-liner using the AABBA rhyme scheme!
And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier’s a man;
A life’s but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink.
Why limericks? May 12th was Limerick Day!!
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read this book? Or any other similar book about Shakespeare’s influence and impact on the English language? Do let me know of your thoughts and recommendations.
8 thoughts on “Will’s Words: Or The Wondrous Words of Will”
What a fun book! Shakespeare certainly had a great time inventing words, and some of them have crept into everyday speech. I really enjoyed this blog post!
I gave this book to our girls. They loves it. The art work is really colorful and the breakdown if everything Will Is easy to grasp. 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
Isn’t it wonderful to come upon a book that we love. And you took me waaaayyyy back to college years because I haven’t read any Shakespeare since then.
And I can imagine that I’d love the artwork also after seeing the image that you shared.
Wow did this bring back old school memories! I was like your daughter with a love/hate when I read Shakespeare, trying to figure out the words but in the end it was worth the struggle. Beautiful artwork!
Wow! This book has beautiful artwork, and the story sounds really interesting.
I will check this out. Thank you!
I’m going to get this for our homeschool library! I’ve got a couple kids that enjoy Shakespeare.
Sounds like a good book to check out. It is always interesting to learn more!
I absolutely love this book. I need to get it for my students! I’m sure they’d find it interesting.