Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary [Review II]

Image of Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary
Release Date: 
August 31, 2016
Oxford University Press
Reviewed by: 

Children will enjoy using the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary. One can easily flip from page to page learning new words or interesting common words, all the while giggling. Every word Dahl invented, every place and character he created, and various Dahl story illustrations are only in the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary.

The alphabet runs down the outer edges of the pages, making it a quick turn from one letter to another. To help you find the word you need, the top of each page lists the first and last word defined on that page. Like all dictionaries, the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary gives the part of speech for each word, synonyms, and additional features exclusive to this “extra-usual”1 dictionary. You can find words to help you rhyme, synonyms, word histories, tips on word usage, and similar words to look up.

One of the best—and my favorite—sections, called “gobblefunking2 with words,” offers additional word explanations, and sometimes explains the inspiration behind a Dahl-invented word. Another exclusive feature of the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is the example sentences given for each word. Those familiar with Dahl stories will be delighted to find these sentences are directly from Dahl’s stories and poems. Those not familiar, well you will be equally delighted to read these oft strange, but always entertaining, sentences along with its story of origin or the character who spoke them.

The illustrations are pure Dahl. Actually, they are pure Quentin Blake, Dahl’s principal illustrator. Blake includes his images from Dahl stories and then adds new illustrations exclusively for this dictionary. Sir Blake—he was knighted for “services to illustration”—greatly enhances the funny-feature of this dictionary. His illustrations will draw kids in and keep them reading, laughing, and learning.  

There is no one who would be disappointed to own and use the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary. Sure, kids will need a “normal” dictionary for those ordinary words, but this is a small sacrifice. Kids who take an interest in this dictionary should find their vocabulary enlarges, their writing improves, and their sense of humor constantly tickles.

The pages are clean, colorful, and creatively presented. The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is a joy to read. One can slip into this dictionary as one would a fascinating novel. One word will take you to another. The illustrations will make you wonder which words it animates. Kids can use it for homework, for creative writing assignments, and for learning new words on their own. Kids will want to open this dictionary and read it.

As kids—and their adults—read, one should look out for the surprises tucked in the pages. Check out the bottom of the page for an interesting tidbit. If you like trolling the Internet for interesting items, or once enjoyed flipping through encyclopedias for an interesting subject, you will like this dictionary. The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is the perfect book for short reading spurts or long, involved searches and homework.

September 13, 2016, would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. To celebrate this occasion, Oxford University Press gathered together Quentin Blake, and Susan Rennie, PhD. Rennie is the lexicographer who gathered all the invented words Dahl used in his stories and poems, like grinksludger3 and kidsnatch,4 and words important to those stories and poems. Rennie also gathered all the names of characters and places Dahl created.

Despite all the shenanigans going on between the covers, the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is an authentic dictionary. With its dozen or so features and brightly colored illustrations kids will enjoy learning new words and inspired creative writing. The best dictionary for children this year.

1 extra-usual (adjective) “Something extra-usual is extraordinarily large or extraordinarily powerful—or both, in the case of BFG’s ears. ‘"They maybe is looking a bit propsposterous to you,’ the BFG said, ‘but you must believe me when I say they is very extra-usual ears indeed.’ —THE  BFG

2 gobblefunk (verb) “If you gobblefunk with words, you play around with them and invent new words or meanings. ‘You mean whales,’ Sophie said. ‘Wales is something quite different.’ ‘Wales is whales,’ the Giant said. ‘Don’t gobblefunk around with words.’THE BFG

3 grinksludger (noun) “A grinksluger is someone who is unpleasant or unkind. ‘Grown-up human beans is not famous for their kindnesses. They is all squifflerotters and grinkslugers.’ THE BFG

4 kidsnatch (verb)  “When a giant or other creature kidsnatches a child, they take them away from their home and keep them prisoner. ‘All is my fault,’ the BFG said. ‘I is the one who kidsnatched you.’ THE BFG”