The Lost Words REVIEW by Martin Preston

This is a book that is both large of stature, and slight of words. 

Every one of Robert MacFarlane’s words has been carefully selected, assembled together into verse that captures the very essence and beauty of the wildlife in our gardens, lanes and countryside.   

Here is where this book lives in our house, standing upright and proud in the lounge between an elegant vase and a rather less elegant basket of pine cones.

I couldn’t bring myself to hide it away on a bookshelf to gather dust over the years like just any book. This is not ‘just any book’, this is a book to be seen, to be handled and admired, to be dipped into whenever we want to find wonder and poetry in the natural world. 

How many of these lost words we’re now seeing and using on our once-a day, lockdown exercise walks, dandelion, bramble, heron, bluebell and so many more. 

Why Lost Words? The words beautifully splayed across every page are some of the words that have been culled from the Oxford Junior Dictionary of late to make way for more ‘modern’ words.

Words like broadband and voicemail.  Are these lost words no longer important to our children?   

Thankfully, Robert MacFarlane, together with other authors thought otherwise. 

Robert’s subsequent collaboration with illustrator Jackie Morris culminated in this astonishingly beautiful and thought-provoking book. 

This is, in essence a book for children, children who will delight in searching for words amongst Jackie’s illustrations. 

It’s a book for parents to read and explore with their children. 

It’s a book for all who seek enrichment from the natural world. 

It’s a book for encouraging us to seek out nature, and to find delight in the seemingly mundane aspects of the nature that surrounds us all. 

The last page of the book tells us that some of the royalties from each copy sold of The Lost Words will be donated to Action for Conservation, a charity dedicated to inspiring young people to take action for the natural world, and to the next generation of conservationists.   

What greater reason to buy a book! 

Martin Preston 

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