*As a storyteller and a professor of young adult literature I will be reviewing books that are worth noting because of the narrative properties in the book and/or the appeal the book has for storytellers and educators.
Imagine trying to live life with only 500 sanctioned words. This is what happens to the civilization that is fighting to survive from the effects of global warming. This makes the book timely because not only the attention it pays to the climate disaster but also the restriction of talk. (Does this sound like a current administration?)
In the book The List, there is a city called the Ark, and in this city, there are rules. Break them and face banishment and one of the major ones is to abide by the word list. You must use the words that are handed to everyone on the List by the Wordsmith. Initially Benjamin, the Wordsmith tackles in intimate detail printing out the words and providing these words to among other places, the schools. However, Benjamin shows up missing and his apprentice Letta has to take over. Letta, however suspects that there is more to her job than providing words. In fact, she questions and soon discovers why restricting words is part of a great plan. Letta befriends someone who has been ostracized from the Arc. These people are left to survive with no hope to doing so.
Ford playfully shows how people of the Arc can survive with the base words. It is a rich delight to read how this limits their range but forces the people to be direct. In fact, I wanted to see more play with the limited language.
For those of us who work with words, librarians, storytellers, educators and simply all of us, we see the power and abuse that can come from language. I recommend this to those of who love to play with words and wrestle with them. Patricia Forde is clearly a word admirer and it reflects in this new work.
Click on the image to pre-order (released in early August) the book.
Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky ISBN 97814926447966
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