by Catherine Reef
As a child, Noah Webster was bored in school, yet he had a love of reading and a curiosity about words that would eventually lead to the creation of the first American dictionary. He was born in Connecticut during the French and Indian War and grew up during the escalating tensions and eventual war between the colonists and the British government. After the American Revolution, he advocated for a strong federal government and American English. Reef places Webster’s life in the context of the world around him. As a result, the reader gains insight not only into this “Man of Many Words” but also early American history and the creation of the United States. Well-researched and documented, there are source notes, a selected bibliography, a listing of the major works by Noah Webster, picture credits, and an index. Most importantly, Reef understands this man’s extensive contributions to a new nation. A carefully crafted text and the accompanying pictures allow his story to unfold and to inform the reader. From the ‘BEGIN’NING” to the “EP’ILOGUE” (with definitions), this is an outstanding book for discussions about personal accomplishments, the birth of a new nation, and contemporary issues such as a strong federal government and a common language.
Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo