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8 January 2024 COLOSSAL WORDS FOR KIDS by Colette Miller and Tor Freeman, ill., Quarto/Frances Lincoln, May 2024, 80p., ISBN: 978-0-7112-7875-2


“What are words for

When no one listens

What are words for

When no one listens

There's no use talking at all”

– Missing Persons (1982)


“Your word is your wand

There’s a wonderful feeling in knowing precisely the right word for something. Like fitting in a piece of a jigsaw–it’s hugely satisfying. And it helps you get straight to the point. Who’d ever want to say second to last when instead you could say…





To be in fine fettle

is a fine place to be.

You’re thriving and doing


There’s no dreadful fettle.

There’s just the one kind.

And that type of fettle

will always be fine.”


COLOSSAL WORDS FOR KIDS is a valuable resource book that’s an absolute gas! It’s a super-fun way to learn new vocabulary words, and it will serve as a model for young readers and writers to craft their own rhyming word definitions.


“Hit the volume!

These poems are meant to be read aloud–even if no one else is around! Doing this helps you remember the word. Plus, it’s fun. Keep a steady beat. Try not to rush. And give any punchline a bit of a punch!”




When a conversation 

is not the least harmonious

but full of angry bitterness

we say it’s acrimonious.”


COLOSSAL WORDS FOR KIDS contains 75 of these very fun poetic word definitions. As the author explains, the definitions are not just told to you. Through these clever poems, they unfold for you. Plenty of avid readers and budding young poets who discover this book will gobble up the poems without a moment’s hesitation. In classrooms, the book will lend itself to great participatory and follow-up activities.


It’s so easy to imagine elementary- and middle school-aged kids each choosing one of the book’s poems to practice at home and then perform for the class. You’ve gotta believe that doing so will lead to plenty of these wonderful words being retained by both the performers and the audience members.


Having them emulate the book’s definition poems could be a popular creative exercise leading to even more vocabulary building. It might help to develop some basic guidelines to assist students in choosing an out-of-the-ordinary descriptive word for which they can design their own fun, poetic definitions. Being that I just happened to be working on a practical math problem today–designing plans for a backyard gazebo, I thought that “hypotenuse” might be a fun one to try. But it was awfully challenging because that is not a descriptive word. It’s a thing. I would suggest that teachers either put together a good-sized cache of sophisticated, descriptive words from which students can choose, or at least explain the potential pitfalls when they are choosing a word they will be working with. 


Having students also illustrate their word definition poems will undoubtedly yield eye-catching, perfect-for-parents-night postings to hang up–and learn from–around the classroom. 


My experience is that creating one of these poems does take some effort. I find it quite impressive how the author assembled dozens of these thoroughly-entertaining definition poems. 


Okay. Here’s my try:




I hate to be ungracious

But he’s just so darned loquacious

Talking on and on and on and on and on

Can someone make him shush

Before my poor brain turns to mush

And my will to live is truly all but gone


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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