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Using word puzzles, codes, puns and a wealth of information, Australian author Dubosarsky (The Red Shoe) explores the enigma that is the English language. The eponymous Word Snoop leads an entertaining adventure that researches the peoples and influences that have shaped English over the past 1,500 years ("I sometimes think English is like a big old wall that people have been scribbling on for centuries," quips the snoop). Beginning with an overview of early writing (cuneiform, hieroglyphics) and alphabets before moving on to the ins and outs of English, the snoop's reader-directed narration offers playful and engaging explanations of punctuation and silent letters ("They're a bit like stray cats that wander into the house") among other elements of language, including nicknames, onomatopoeia, clichés, Internet slang and pig latin. The book is a useful tool for teachers, but should also delight language enthusiasts of all ages. Riddle's cartoons provide humorous flourishes as well as drive home certain points. The clever approach grants insight into the complexity and beauty of communication and the inherent power of language. Ages 10-up. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.