Hail, Juvenile Logophiles

“I’d enjoy the dulcifluous water and empyreal sky much more if I weren’t so concerned about my arachibutyrophobia!” is what a child might say at your next streamside picnic, courtesy of Big Words for Little Geniuses.

In this clever picture book by Susan Solie Patterson ’79, MFA’82 and James Patterson, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a sophisticated word (that even adults may not know and children will love using), its definition, and a delightful illustration — with more words at the back. As the book wisely concludes, “Every little genius has to start somewhere.” (Dulcifluous, by the way, means “flowing sweetly and gently”; empyreal means “heavenly”; and arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.)

David Burnett

“The idea for this book,” explains Susan, “stems from our passion for reading and the importance of getting kids to learn (love) to read, and to learn (love) language.” Big Words fulfills a dream for Susan, who has wanted to write and art-direct a children’s book since grad school, when part of her MFA show consisted of entirely handmade books. During her subsequent career in advertising, her eventual husband hired her as an art director at J. Walter Thompson. James holds the Guinness World Record for writing the most number-one New York Times bestsellers, some of which have been made into films. He’s currently collaborating with Bill Clinton on a fiction work.

The couple passionately champions reading initiatives, teacher education, the UW’s swimmers (Susan was a two-time All-American swimmer), and the UW’s Schools of Education and Nursing.

Published in the Fall 2017 issue

Tags: Alumni, books, Children, Humanities

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