• Karen

The Lost Spells

Updated: Jan 16

Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

It’s fair to say we’d been keenly anticipating the publication of The Lost Spells. We already hang on Robert Macfarlane’s every word and loved his collaboration with illustrator Jackie Morris on The Lost Words, their enchanting oversized spell book that seeks to rewild the language of children as words from the natural world disappear from their lives.

Then in 2019 came Spell Songs, the musical companion to The Lost Words that must rate as one of our favourite albums of the past few years (and also happens to open our December playlist).

The Lost Spells does not disappoint. First off, it is the most exquisite piece of book production we have seen in a long time: a pocket-sized treasure that positively dazzles with the luminous beauty and charm of Jackie Morris’s woodland creatures.

Secondly, the cover blurb tells you ‘This is a book of spells to be spoken aloud.’ We urge you to follow this advice. Each ‘spell’ comes to life as you say it. We found ourselves grinning from ear to ear as we read ‘Jackdaw’ and heard the words recreating the familiar sounds and conjuring the character of the comical birds that roost among Shaftesbury’s chimney pots. Other poems moved us in equal measure. It staggers us that the words for these familiar creatures are disappearing from children’s language; if lost from sight and sound, how will they ever care when they are lost for good?

Robert Macfarlane hopes the book might inspire wonder, hope, action and change. “And that it might run wild in ways we cannot yet imagine, becoming songs, plays, protests, films and more. And that it might touch readers’ hearts a little in this hard autumn.” We think perhaps it might.

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