Camp Fossil Eyes: Digging for the Origins of Words

Annick Press (2009)

Fifteen-year-old Jill and her 13-year-old brother Alex are off to summer camp. But instead of spending their days swimming and canoeing, they’re hiking a bizarre badlands region filled with words that are fossilized in rock. Like it or not (and at first, Jill doesn’t), the pair are on a journey of discovery.

Making their way up hills, ridges, spurs, mounds and mountains of fossilized words, from ancient Greece (catastrophe, demon, gorilla) and the language of the Goths (heathen, home, haunt) to Dutch (cookie, pickle, booze) and Persian (paradise, checkmate), they learn the surprising origin of dozens of expressions. They also discover the history of English and the sheer joy of language.

This is Mark Abley’s second book for children and his third book about words.