The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

by Jen Bryant

Other authorsMelissa Sweet (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2014


Check shelf

Call number

J 92 RO


Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (2014), Edition: Illustrated, 42 pages


The story of "shy young Peter Mark Roget, [for whom] books were the best companions--and it wasn't long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn't write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time"

Local notes


User reviews

LibraryThing member pataustin
This tour de force biography is worthy of the Caldecott and should be a contender for the Sibert and Orbis Pictus Awards for nonfiction. Every aspect of the biography of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget's Thesaurus is ingenious as the text takes on thesaurus-like qualities: "Born beginning, baby,
Show More
infant, tadpole"....tracing in a list of words..."prime of life, maturity, wo wind up, draw to an end, close died." His father's death, when Peter was quite young, affected him keenly. At eight, he began writing his own book, but his book was a book of lists: Latin words, weather words, garden words. At 19, he graduated from medical school and became a doctor but he continued to write his lists. In 1852, he published his "thesaurus, a word meaning "treasure house' in Greek.

Added to the now growing collection of biographies by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, this one is a winner.
Show Less
LibraryThing member nbmars
This is the story of Peter Mark Roget, inventor of the thesaurus, and it is a beauty in every sense of the word.

From the time Peter was little, he spent most of his time with books. His family moved often and he was shy, but he managed to entertain himself by his self-instruction.

When he was eight,
Show More
he started his own book, and in it he began to keep lists of words.

Eventually he became a medical doctor, but never stopped working on his book of word lists that he hoped one day to publish:

"Long ago Peter had discovered the power of words. Now he believed that everyone should have this power - everyone should be able to find the right word whenever they needed it.”

He published his book in 1852, calling it Thesaurus, which means “treasure house” in Greek.

The book sold out quickly, but Peter just went right back to his desk, creating new lists, “so that today, whenever you need it, you can still find THE RIGHT WORD.” Incredibly, the book has stayed in print continuously since 1852!

At the back of the book, there is a timeline of major events during Peter Mark Roget’s life, as well as in his own life (and it was an amazingly eventful time!). There is an Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note, Selected Bibliography, and more.

Melissa Sweet is one of my - make that one of everyone’s - favorite illustrators. She researches deeply so that her collages reflect the content of the story even through the materials she selects. [You may recall the book she illustrated on the shirtwaist factory workers strike. For that story, her collages incorporated dress-pattern paper, fabric pieces, and stitching as borders.] For this book, Sweet used only Roget’s notebooks and the 1852 edition of Roget’s Thesaurus as source material for the words she incorporates into her pictures. And as she explains in an Afterward, “the idea of classification and scientific illustration crept into my collages, along with imagery from Roget’s Bridgewater Treatise, old botanicals, vintage papers, book covers, type drawers, watercolor, and fixed media.” As you will see in this book, the results are spectacular.

Evaluation: This remarkably creative work will delight word lovers as well as art aficionados, and no one will finish this book without learning something new.
Show Less
LibraryThing member krmajor
Peter Roget really liked to make lists. In fact, he liked to make lists more than he liked to do just about anything else. Starting at age eight, Peter began filling notebook after notebook with lists of everything from his Latin vocabulary lessons to lists of mathematical or gardening terms (also
Show More
sometimes in Latin). It didn’t take long for Peter to discover the sheer power of words, and so as he got older, he also began to create complex lists of synonyms for words, so that he could always find just the right word. Although others published similar books first, Roget’s became the gold standard for thesauri.

Although many of us own a Roget’s thesaurus, it’s rare to find any information on the man who devoted his life to compiling his own thesaurus. Melissa Sweet’s mixed media illustrations combined with her paintings add to the enjoyment of the book; often, her illustrations of Roget’s sometimes zany lists pepper the background and the eye is always drawn across the entire page. Overall, in the words of Roget, this book is fun, amusing, enjoyable, entertaining, lively, and pleasant. It’s thanks to Roget that we are able to find just the right word at just the right time. Highly recommended. Grades 1-4.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Auj
A picture book about the life of Roget of the famous Roget's Thesaurus. I am an elementary school librarian and am interested in anything that might teach children to use more precise words in their writing. I believe that reading this book to them may interest them in the man and what he gave the
Show More
world through his lists of words. I received a 'folded and gathered' copy and when I opened it, I noticed (what will be) the lovely end papers of the published book. Parts of the illustrations do seem to be a bit busy, but I really enjoyed this book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LangeKindergarten
This is a book in my favorite genre - historical biography - picture book. It is a beautiful book. And it has a great vocabulary. The illustrations are lovely and the reader could spend a good deal of time looking and learning. This would be a great book in any collection - but particularly in a
Show More
2nd grade Ohio collection. It would fit well with the biography learning unit - and the language is more advanced than K or 1st. It is way too advanced for a Pre-K kid who lost interest quickly. I look forward to reading it again with more kids. I do think the cover design is one that kids will pick up in a school library - the skeleton on the front helps.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kleahey
This unassuming picture book biography represents some of the best book design that I've ever seen. From the endpapers forward, this slim volume is simply captivating. Every aspect, from the hyper-detailed collage-style illustrations full of word lists to the further reading bibliography near the
Show More
book's close recommend The Right Word for recognition as an outstanding work of non-fiction for young readers.
Show Less
LibraryThing member julieaduncan
I have never been this fascinated with a picture book. Normally I read a picture book and just glance at the pictures. Ironically, in The Right Word, the illustrations add just as much to the story as the words. I especially enjoyed the added information at the back that includes a timeline of
Show More
Roget's life, information from the author and illustrator, as well as sources and further reading.

This biography of Roget's life encourages young and old writers to search for the right word and to remember to pick up the thesaurus. It also inspires young children to know that their present passions can help shape their future lives. Definitely a worthwhile read. Don't make it a quick read though. Linger through it.
Show Less
LibraryThing member SandSing7
A beautiful book, and an interesting topic. I reiterate that I wish that publishers would not send out unbound books as part of Early Reviewers; it's hard to share with my son when they're unbounded.
LibraryThing member JulieZ0
This is a great picture book for children who are learning to use a dictionary and a thesaurus, or for children who are interested in words, history and biographies. The collage-style illustrations are wonderful and include actual lists from Roget's wrtings in Latin and English. It includes a
Show More
bibliography and author's and illustrator's notes. I would recommend this book for elementary students.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mestinson
What a nice surprise. I received this book and thought it a bit too old for the students I work with and then after moving to a higher grade I pulled it out to use when beginning to teach dictionary skills. Great jumping point for getting students excited about using a dictionary. Glad to have it
Show More
in my library!
Show Less
LibraryThing member melodyreads
Great story - be sure to read end notes from author AND illustrator!!
LibraryThing member SuPendleton
This just published book better win an award!! It is fabulous, wondrous, amazing and inspiring. The illustrations go perfectly with the text. It is a simple yet inspiring story about Peter Mark Roget's life and how he came to publish the thesaurus. The inclusion of the author's and illustrator's
Show More
notes at the back of the book reveal how this book about Roget came about. There is also a page listing biographical sources, further reading and sources for quotes used. This appealing book is a must have for classroom libraries.
Show Less
LibraryThing member hoffert
This book is about the true story of Roget and how the thesaurus was created. It follows the main character through his life explaining what happened to him and why he created this book.
LibraryThing member laineyh
The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus is a great book for any classroom and tells the underappreciated story of Roget, the man that created one of the most important resource tools in education. The story starts with Peter as a child and shows how his love for words and categorizing them into
Show More
particular lists only grows over time. The book is an amazing example of why I enjoy reading picture book so much and how they have the ability to capture the true personality of important, yet underappreciated humans in history. The story is fluid and beautiful but the illustrations are really what sells me on the book. The author uses original images from Roget’s first thesaurus for the backgrounds and then layers colors on top to add to the authenticity of the book. The authors note in the back was a wonderful touch and tribute to Roget himself. This book would be a great collection for any classroom because it gives meaning behind a tool that almost every student will use in their life, a thesaurus. This book is also wonderful for a classroom because it is an accurately depicts the life of Roget as well as introduces Latin terms and their translations.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mbabst
Since Pete was little, His family moved quite often. Roget a as shy, but taught himself certain entertainment activities. At the age of eight, he started a book filled with words. This list of words he had hoped to be published. This book is an excellent representation of independency. Even though
Show More
Roget encountered many obstacles in his life, he always found an outlet when he was down. This book encounters the story of Peter Roget, the inventor of the Thesaurus. I would read this story to a group of first- second graders because they will have a more broad range of vocabulary words.
Show Less
LibraryThing member amandahnorman
The wonderful collaged illustrations enhance the story of a man who loved to collect words and the objects and ideas they represented. The writing is lovely and engaging. Perfect for an introductory lesson on how to choose the right word or how to use a thesaurus.
LibraryThing member Whisper1
A wonderful 2015 Caldecott Medal book, this is filled with wonderful, lovely illustrations depicting Peter Mark Roget who, as a young lad, began to collect words and draw figures representing them.

While many children filled their minds with trivial things, from the age of seven, Roget began to make
Show More
lists of words. Trying to capture just the right word to match the meaning, his lists grew more and more complicated.

When an adult, he became a doctor, but he never gave up the love of words and the importance of finding just the exact word or words that would capture the feeling. The first 1,000 copies of his lists of words sold out immediately.
Show Less
LibraryThing member thornton37814
Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet have once again teamed up to create a wonderfully illustrated biography for young readers. This time the subject is Peter Mark Roget who compiled the very successful thesaurus still in use today. The book is deserving of the Caldecott honor which was bestowed upon it,
Show More
and as in the earlier biography of William Carlos Williams, I'm a little surprised it did not win the medal. I love all the illustrations -- from the cover to the end papers to the pages themselves. I also appreciate the fact a bibliography was included.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kimpiddington
So much to love...Interesting subject matter and the illustrations-AMAZING. I spent a good half an hour just on the end papers.
LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Loved the artwork--amazing collages that did an excellent job integrating words and working with the subject matter.
LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Loved the artwork--amazing collages that did an excellent job integrating words and working with the subject matter.
LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Loved the artwork--amazing collages that did an excellent job integrating words and working with the subject matter.
LibraryThing member npetzold
This is the story of Peter Roget and his passion for words. The author and the illustrator do an amazing job of bringing this story to life and engaging the reader in an interactive adventure of loving words. The story outlines Roget's life and how he came to write many different versions of
Show More
thesauri, including the challenges and questions that arose along the way.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Loved the artwork--amazing collages that did an excellent job integrating words and working with the subject matter.
LibraryThing member Tracie_Shepherd
This was a fun book to read and to learn about Roget. I hadn't given the thesaurus much thought as to how it came to be. I plan to use this with 3rd grade as we learn about the power of words and how to use words. This will lead into a day of poetry.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

42 p.; 11 inches


0802853854 / 9780802853851


Page: 1.485 seconds