A few weeks before my big move, Simon & Schuster sent me a newly published book, Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century (2013) by Liesl Schillinger and illustrated by Eliza Zechel. The book is a little over 200 pages.
It is written as a dictionary, complete with phonetic transcription and part of speech, that examines the concept of Wordbirds = word combinations creating a new word with a new meaning and then illustrated by a bird-related image. The images are delicate and in the cataloging style of bird watching journals
Goods one such as:
- Hyperscentilate (v.) To apply too much perfume, surrounding yourself in a thick, aromatic mist that causes people to choke, sneeze, and cough, (p. 8).
- Shoeicide (n.) The act of destroying your feet by deliberately wearing shoes you suspect or know to be excruciatingly painful, usually out of vanity, (p. 15).
- Tyrannitot (n.) Child who is permitted (or encouraged) to dominate adult social gatherings and indulge its whims in all particulars, (p.164).
Personally, as a person who talks about my love of dogs and how I want one so bad, yet still have not brought one home, I feel a deep affection for Dawgle (p. 148) and Procrastidate (p. 119) having used my returning to school later in life as an excuse to put off dating. Other great words to check out would be invipaytion (p.45), polterguy (p. 118), phonedeaf (p. 98), and the highly accurate GP-Ass (p.175).
Until I selected the above list of words I had not realized how many of these could easily be used in conversation. Knowing that the book originated from the Ms. Schillinger’s popular tumbler site, I wonder now how many of these have already entered the modern vocabulary.
I find the words and definitions clever and enjoyable; however, I am less a fan of these particular illustrations. While they are definitely gorgeous and finely detailed, the style seems at odds with the youth and irreverence of the text.
I see the images more suited for a tome of poetry or a novel. If I had read the text alone, I would have suggested something younger in feel, a bit less realistic with more whimsy and humor. The text is the most important element. However, the images are what gave the book its title…Wordbirds; therefore, they are an intractable part of the project. Therefore, my suggestions about the ornithology images are moot and just my humble opinion.
Overall, I can see this book as a great holiday gift for someone with a keen sense of humor.
Illustrations: Eliza Zechel