Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word

Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word


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Are you a word person? A curiosity seeker? An explorer? Take a look at these twenty-six extraordinary individuals for whom love of language is an extreme sport.

Step right up and read the genuine stories of writers so intoxicated by the shapes and sound of language that they collected, dissected, and constructed verbal wonders of the most extraordinary kind. Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote his memoirs by blinking his left eyelid, unable to move the rest of his body. Frederic Cassidy was obsessed with the language of place, and after posing hundreds of questions to folks all over the United States, amassed (among other things) 176 words for dust bunnies. Georges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter e (so well that at least one reviewer didn’t notice its absence), then followed with a novella in which e was the only vowel. A love letter to all those who love words, language, writing, writers, and stories, Alphamaniacs is a stunningly illustrated collection of mini-biographies about the most daring and peculiar of writers and their audacious, courageous, temerarious way with words.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763690663
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 04/14/2020
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 542,849
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Paul Fleischman is the author of many books for children, including the Newbery Medal–winning Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. With Candlewick Press, he is the author of Weslandia, The Dunderheads, The Matchbox Diary, and Eyes Wide Open. He lives in Monterey, California.

Melissa Sweet has illustrated nearly one hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Honor books The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. With Candlewick, she is the illustrator of Baabwaa and Wooliam and Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems. Melissa Sweet lives in Rockport, Maine.

Read an Excerpt

Take a seat, remove your hats, and discard as well your fear of the outrageous, the brain-baffling, the bizarre. Prepare to behold a pageant without equal. Perhaps you’ve seen fire-eaters and contortionists. But who among you has looked upon a lipogram? A mondegreen? Zaum?
For most of us, a tree is a tree. But some — the imaginers, the tinkerers — turn trees into canoes and their leaves into sails. Those you’re about to meet are of this ilk. Their voyages? Extraordinary. Their persistence? Superhuman. The realm they explored? Not the physical one, but the airy land of letters.
You and I may barely notice the words flitting around us. But these men and women? Intoxicated by their shapes and sounds! Seeing music and mathematics where we see simply information! Collecting, dissecting, constructing verbal wonders as colossal and rarely glimpsed as the overgrown pyramids of the Mayans! Each of their tales is more astounding than the last. And every one of them true!
We take pride in our progress from caves to condominiums, but is that the whole story of humanity? If so, how to explain our elaborate pursuits that don’t improve the roofs over our heads or add a cent to our bank accounts? Could it be that we live not on bread alone but also on curiosity, challenge, beauty, and play?
Ponder the figures I’ll now introduce. Let the parade begin!

Table of Contents

The Invitation x

A Daniel Nussbaum 1

B Jean-Dominique Bauby 5

C Thomas Urquhart 12

D Jessie Little Doe Baird 17

E Marc Okrand 22

F Ignatius Donnelly 28

G Ross Eckler 35

H Frederic Cassidy 41

I Doris Cross 47

J Robert Shields 52

K Sven Jacobson 57

L Mike Gold 61

M David Wallace 66

N Bohumil Hrabal 72

O Corín Tellado 75

P Raymond Queneau 79

Q Georges Perec 84

R Simon Vostre 89

S Howard Chace 94

T Robert McCormick 100

U Mary Ellen Solt 105

V A. A. Morrison 109

W Ernst Toch 114

X David Bryce 121

Y Allen Read 126

Z Ludwik Zamenhof 133

Source Notes 140

Further Entertainment 142

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