What On Earth Books are new to me but Laura Smythe who works as part of the publicity team is not and she sent me two of the company’s new books.  And I am delighted because they are wonderful in their own right but they are also about two things in which I am passionately interested: language and islands.  (I know, it’s an unusual group.)


Literally, written by Patrick Skipworth and illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson, does what it says in the subtitle.  Patrick has chosen a selection of English words with different roots.  He explains, with the artistic help of Nicholas, where each word comes from, how to pronounce it and how its meaning has changed.


I’ve chosen this one as my example as it demonstrates one of the reasons English has so many synonyms, something I was very interested in at Glasgow University where I studied English Language.  The history of language and its development is a fascinating thing and this book is an excellent starting point.


Amazing Islands is by Sabrina Weiss and Kerry Hyndman and it is due out next month (June 2020). They have chosen some isands and some island groups for a variety of different reasons, be it geographical, geological or literary.


I collect islands in a loose sort of way and am fascinated by the literal insular nayure of them, how it affects the people who live there and the particular phenomena it gives rise to.  Svalbard and Prince Edward Island are two isands I would love to visit and for the reasons in these descriptions.  I’ve been as far north as the top of mainland Norway but I’d really like to go norther still!  And for most of my life I’ve been dreaming about meeting Anne on her home ground.


Although the publisher has aimed these books at quite young children, I’d say that anyone of whatever age will find something interesting in them.  And it might well lead on to further journeys of exploration, virtual or actual.


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