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Bas Bleu: "So many books..."

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Today I decided to share one of my favorite “literary” sources with you – Bas Bleu (www.basbleu.com). The website is great, but I love paging through an actual Bas Bleu catalog.  It features a full-color picture, detailed description and mini-review of each item – sort of like a J. Peterman catalog for books (if you don’t get that reference, you need to brush up on your Seinfeld re-runs).

Chances are if you are reading this blog, you also enjoy reading about words and language.  I never fail to find some intriguing titles in each Bas Bleu catalog that snag my interest; some are about word origins, others center on word usage, and many feature entertaining tidbits about grammar and vocabulary.  Of course, the catalog also offers countless works of fiction that constantly evoke my lament, “So many books, so little time.”

Here are a few of the books I’ve purchased recently:

  • The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor: For Kids
  • 399 Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young
  • Similes Dictionary: 16,000 Figures of Speech on More than One Thousand Topics
  • Flying by the Seat of your Pants: Surprising Origins of Everyday Expressions
  • Name that Movie: 100 Illustrated Movie Puzzles (not really a “word” book, but great for critical thinking exercise)
  • The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

Yes, I gravitate toward books with unusually long titles!

And just in case you’re the sort that likes to get a good jump on your holiday shopping, check out Bas Bleu for gifts to present to your literary friends and colleagues.  I volunteer in the library at my children’s school, and always find something perfect for our beloved librarian.  Of course, WordMasters merchandise is also a great gift idea!




 

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Wonderful Words: And the answer is... Lilliputian

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If you are reading this blog, you clearly have some interest in words, their origins and their usages.  In that case, you should be following WordMasters on Twitter, as we tweet an Analogy of the Day (AOTD) from the WordMasters Challenge archives.  On Monday, we tweet an analogy that originally appeared on a fourth grade Challenge test.  The vocabulary gets progressively more difficult as we finish out the week by tweeting an analogy from an eighth grade Challenge test every Friday.  We also tweet the correct answer the following day.  To sign up for AOTD, follow us (@wordmasterslisa).  If you don’t Twitter, you can catch the AOTD and corresponding answers by visiting us on Facebook (click here).

 

Yesterday’s AOTD was:

gauche : tactful :: titanic : Lilliputian

I think this is a great example of why students need to understand literary references and how they make their way into our vocabulary.  In case you’re mystified by “Lilliputian”, it is a reference to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. “Lilliputian” can be used as a noun to name a native of Lilliput, or more commonly, as an adjective meaning trivial or extremely small. 

Even if your students haven’t read Gulliver’s Travels, it is important that they recognize and understand the literary reference of “Lilliputian.”  When asked why they looked this word up on Merriam-Webster’s website (www.m-w.com), respondents answered “Crossword puzzle” and “GRE vocab word.”  (By the way, Gulliver’s Travels is available as a free download through www.planetebook.com and other websites!)


 

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Suddenly there’s a love affair with words in my classroom!

– 6th grade teacher from Florida

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