Tuesday 18 May 2021

The Art of Words

The Art of Words, written by Robert Vescio, illustrated by Joanna Bartel, (EK Books) PB HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978 1 925820843                                 

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Robert Vescio is an internationally published children’s author who is a master at picture book stories. The Art of Words is not only a clever book but totally unique. It is a super-dooper read all about words, where to find them, how to create them and who helps them. Words are everywhere. They can be shortened, extended, and switched around. Robert has written this story with very few words, too.


Robert Vescio is a children’s author who keeps on surprising, just like a box of chocolates. Robert explores words by speaking directly to the reader and getting them to think for themselves. He uses very few words but implies so much more, that it makes one smile. Robert opens the reader’s mind like a Pandora’s box and tah dah! They think for themselves. On a double page spread we see one word – Everywhere. This leads to thinking about the many places we can find words. The fact that words are big and little is also captivating as even children’s names can be big or small. This book shows us so much without telling. I can just picture a child saying, ‘I know a really big word.’ Lots of discussion can be around colourful and ugly words. How often have you thought that ugly words can make you feel bad? This is a book that empowers children with word knowledge. I won’t give all the book’s secrets away but it is a treat. The ending is perfect.


The illustrator Joanna Bartel has created a cracker of a cover which immediately catches the eye. The two children featured, show the book is about word play but it also reflects gender and diversity, and even differences like glasses. The endpapers are perfect with letters of the alphabet on a dark background. Joanna shows the children seeking and finding as they word play. The opening spread is powerful with each child in a tree filled with leaves. Much as it is impossible to count all the leaves on trees, so it is the same with words. We are introduced to a small dog that is a sidekick character who joyfully helps the children.  Nature features throughout, which is unusual for a book about words, yet it is a perfect fit. The illustrator has done a wonderful job on a special book.


The Art of Words, is a picture book that has all the right words in all the right places. It is suitable for children 4 to 8 years old and is a wonderful resource for a classroom for grades preschool to year 3. This is a book that will find its way into many tiny hearts and onto lots of bookshelves everywhere.

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