Nature writer Robert Macfarlane has teamed up with artist Jackie Morris to create a picture book based on “lost” nature words.
Macfarlane was one of several writers who wrote a letter of complaint to the Oxford University Press (OUP) after they cut nature words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.
He said: “The deletion of these vital words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary isn’t the dictionary’s fault -- but our own for failing to use them. This year, Oxford University Press declared ‘hashtag’ to be the ‘children’s word of the year’, having surveyed at 120,000 stories written by children aged 5-13. Technology is miraculous – but so is nature, and Jackie and I wanted to find a way to release these simple wonder-words back into their stories and their dreams.”
The Lost Words: A Spell-Book is structured around 20 nature words such as ‘acorn’, ‘willow’ and ‘kingfisher’ and will be fully illustrated in colour by Morris.
“I have watched children's books moving away from the wild for some time now with the fashion for urban dystopia led by titles such as The Hunger Games,” she said. “I hope that Robert and I can produce between us a book that gives a voice back to the wild and wild places and inspires a new generation of custodians of our planet, who understand the true value of a single kingfisher.”
The book will be published in an oversized format in spring 2017 by Hamish Hamilton, who acquired world rights from Jessica Woollard at The Marsh Agency.