Sunday 5 May 2013

The Word Hunters: The Lost Hunters

The Word Hunters: The Lost Hunters by Nick Earls, illustrated by Terry Whidborne (University of Queensland Press)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9780 702 249587
Reviewed by Jo Antareau

The Lost Hunters is the sequel to Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary in which the Hunter twins return with more time-slip adventures. Again, the dictionary transports them to points in history where a word was born, and their job is to ‘peg’ the word in place, so that it becomes established in our lexicon. But now the adventure has become personal. Al and Lexi realise that their long-lost grandfather was actually a word hunter like them, who has somehow become stuck somewhere in 3000 years of history. They have to find him, knowing that they too could get trapped in the past or fall victim to the many dangers inherent in the not-so-safe bygone days.

Along the way, they meet William Shakespeare, a World War I bomber and encounter the ‘real’ Humpty Dumpty (probably not what you think). They also meet Will Hunter, another lost time-traveller, who joins them in their adventures and is happy to adjust to twenty-first century life between missions.

However, their word hunting efforts are thwarted by the mysterious men in grey robes, who seem to be making sure that the very words they are saving disappear – and who will stop at nothing to achieve their end, even if it means hurting the word hunters. Who is behind their plot?

I enjoyed the historical and etymological snippets in the book. Whidborne’s line illustrations have wonderful detail and help to orient the reader in the historical era. However, I suggest that readers may have a better appreciation of the situations depicted after having read the first book, as I am not sure it stands alone. This is recommended for children aged 9 years and over.

Teaching notes are available from UQP.

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