“The Lost Words” is not your average book. It’s not meant for a quick read on your commute or a leisurely read in bed. It demands your full attention and invites you to explore it on a flat surface, preferably on the floor, with a child or friend by your side.
This magical book was born out of concern for the removal of nature-related words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, highlighting the growing disconnect between children and the natural world. Robert Macfarlane, a British writer, and Jackie Morris, an artist, embarked on a mission to revive these words and the disappearing species they represent. Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s words, they aimed to bring back the sayable and bear witness to the disappearing wonders of our world.
Through elegant illustrations and poetic spells, Macfarlane and Morris breathe life into twenty plants and animals. Each creature is given a three-part presentation, starting with a faint trace or spirit of the organism intertwined with letters that spell out its name. Turning the page reveals Macfarlane’s spell alongside a stunning, isolated illustration of the creature on a golden backdrop. These spells use language to not only describe but also embody the essence of each organism, capturing its movement, intensity, and color. From dark moments to playful encounters, they paint a vivid picture of the natural world.
The book‘s third section speaks volumes without words, as Morris’s brush brings the plants and animals to life within their natural habitats. The intricate illustrations depict the interconnectedness of all living things, emphasizing the importance of balance and interdependence in ecosystems. The color palette evokes a sense of loss, nostalgia, and hope, leaving a lasting impression on readers.
According to Macfarlane, children don’t necessarily need names to appreciate nature, but the names we remember and speak aloud will shape their perception, relationship, and responsibility towards the natural world. “The Lost Words” is a captivating and thought-provoking journey that celebrates the beauty of nature and seeks to reconnect us with the wonders that surround us.