Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Ultimate Visual Dictionary
Hardcover: 672 pages
Even with the best of references old habits are hard to break. So, I can’t promise that the Ultimate Visual Dictionary published by DK Publishing, Inc., New York, will cure you of yelling to anyone within hearing distance, “Do you remember what those little petals that sit on the top of a strawberry are called?” but I can tell you that when no one in the house comes running to your aid, you will be really glad to have this reference sitting right on your desk.
Libraries are nice. Heavens, the NET is even nice. But nothing can surpass a good, well-worn reference that you come to know intimately, know its strengths and its weaknesses.
The pictures are colorful, clear and not so cute they’re annoying; it is divided into sensible categories like “The Universe,” “Prehistoric Earth,” and “The Human Body.” There is a concise index and an appendix of useful data like mathematical symbols and the ever-confounding metric conversions.
Now, sometimes you will need the name for something like the hole in the face of a guitar. You are praying there is a term that alliterates with the adjective you have already chosen to describe it. You rush to the wonderful book (after getting blank stares from anyone you ask about it first, of course), find the section for “music” and are disappointed to find that it is called a “sound hole.” It’s not a poetic term. It doesn’t have any potential for a lyrical metaphor. Still, that’s not the fault of the book, is it? At least you’ll know that you are on your own for coming up with a term that is kinder to the ear or that, if you settle for “sound hole,” there is nothing more accurate available.
Check out the page for “Books.” You’ll find wonderful terms about your own craft that you’ve forgotten or never knew–like “mull,” “buckram corner piece,” and “tail.”
The Ultimate Visual Dictionary is $16.95. It was edited by Jo Evans and Julee Binder with a team of amazing researchers and artists.
About the Reviewer: Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a freelance writer. She is a columnist for the Pasadena Star News, a contributing editor for Home Décor Buyer and does occasional movie reviews for the Glendale News-Press. Her first novel, This Is The Place is set in Utah in the 1950s and is about love, prejudice, and redemption. Published by AmErica House, Baltimore, it’s ISBN is: 1-58851-352-1.