Do you remember this book? It was about a thesaurus

Google has failed me. And nobody I’ve asked seems to remember this book that I swear I read sometime in elementary school. So I’m turning to you, the intelligent and devastatingly charming people of the Internet, did you ever read this book when you were a kid? Do you know the name of it?

What I remember, is the book is about a bunch of either naughty kids or kids who have been deemed not so smart or maybe they’re just poor readers or maybe they’re just too young. One day in the library this gang of miscreants or dyslexics or marginalized students discover a thesaurus. They ask the librarian/teacher/warden about the book and he/she is all “oh you are much too dumb and/or young for that book” (but maybe in a more politically correct way, but maybe not because this would have been the early-to-mid 80s and we were mean back then). Anyway the kids steal the book and that book is a thesaurus. The thesaurus brings magic into their lives and people start thinking the kids are super smart because all of a sudden they know all kinds of synonyms. Also, I believe there is some sort of lunchroom uprising or strike or walkout involving signs with words they learned from the thesaurus. At one point, I believe the thesaurus is either hidden in a freezer or gets bubble gum on it and is stuffed in the freezer so they can chip the gum off.

Sound familiar? Do you know the name of it? Who wrote it? I know somebody on this planet besides me must have read this book.

UPDATE: Thanks to Steve who suggested I ask the folks at What’s That Book, I now know the book is called A Word to the Wise. I’m ordering a copy as soon as I post this update.

(Visited 40 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Kyle Hebert 24.Oct.11 at 7:03 pm

    Sounds like it could have been one of the stories in the “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” series.

  2. LeAnn 24.Oct.11 at 10:17 pm

    Public librarians help people find long-lost books like this all the time. On a librarian fiction listserv there are always descriptions of books that librarians are trying to track down for patrons, so I’ll put this out on it tomorrow to see if anyone has any suggestions.

  3. hotrod 25.Oct.11 at 6:17 am

    The Brothers Karamazov. You’re welcome.

  4. LeAnn 26.Oct.11 at 1:45 pm

    BTW, right after your update I heard back from librarians on the listserv with the same book. I’ve never heard of this book, but I like the premise.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.