* Prices may differ from that shown
The Hello Kitty Dictionary takes a concept that many young students might not find too interesting (me, on the other hand, I love books full of words) and puts a colourful and fun spin on it. Because if you're having to look up how to spell a word, or what something means, it helps to have pages with lemon and violet and aquamarine borders, dotted with presents and hearts and stars. That's not to say the dictionary isn't clear and easy to read because it certainly is: the decorations don't extend into the centre of the pages, and the entries themselves are bold fuchsia followed by neat black explanations, all neatly formatted on crisp white pages.
There are over 7000 entries in Hello Kitty's dictionary, and there are various features included to help young learners. Each page has the alphabet running down the side, in case you can't remember whether Q is before or after P. The top corner of each also has the first and last words of the page on it (conserve- consumer .... contact-contribute) to speed up searching. Each letter of the alphabet is colour coded, as well.
Most individual entries don't have any phonetics next to them, but there are a few Kitty tips for trickier words:
"Hello Kitty knows that you can say neither as nye-thuh or nee-thuh because both are correct"
"Drought should be said so that it rhymes with shout."
And some that are extra tricky do give you a pronunciation before the definition
I think this is a nice compromise, because for native speakers there's really no need to have a full phonetic transcription next to each word in a dictionary of this level. As a child I don't think I ever used a dictionary to find out how to say a word, and as an ESL teacher I would recommend that even young learners get a more focused resource than this one if they're using a monolingual dictionary in their non-native tongue.
The dictionary seems to be a British release, so I was surprised by some of the entries. The very last one reads
"Zucchini [zoo-keen-nee] PLURAL NOUN Zucchini are small vegetable marrows with dark green skin. They are also called courgettes."
i.e. making no reference to the fact that it's the American term. I'm pretty sure if I'd used the word zucchini in a writing assignment at school, it would have been corrected.
Later on we learn that a cookie is a sweet biscuit (and also a small file used by some websites on your computer...showing Hello Kitty is nicely up to date with technology) while a biscuit is a small flat cake made of baked dough. That seems a bit of an odd definition, even if it was describing US-style biscuits in which case I'd expect some reference to what they're eaten with (gravy at lunch, grits at breakfast, with a definition of grits please because I've always wondered).
This is a minor quibble in an international world, because overall I was very impressed by the dictionary. It's very easy to use and has many useful tips, including mini thesaurus entries on some key words
"Try not to use big too much when you are writing. Some other words you can use are gigantic, immense, vast and massive."
Plus random bits of etymology
"Did you know...that the word zero comes from an Arabic word sifr which means empty?"
I think this book would make a great gift for a kindly aunt or grandparent wanting to give something a little educational, but still fun. The backs says it's suitable for use at home or school, but it's quite chunky and not exactly portable. More of a desk diary than one to carry from classroom to classroom perhaps, it is nonetheless a useful and fun resource.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
£9.99 new, this is a snip on Amazon at almost half off presently