10 June 2012


All bad things come to an end – and, as you’ve probably already surmised from the lack of updates over the last six months, My First Dictionary has pretty much finished its run.

It’s down to a mixture of factors. Throughout the course of the blog, I’ve been steadily and inevitably running out of pictures to steal from the original children’s dictionary. Perhaps more devastatingly (and more obviously) I’ve also been running out of ideas. There’s only so many ways to kill a child, as sick humorists and serial killers far greater than I have no doubt discovered. Kittens are easier to kill – they stun easily and tend not to arouse as much suspicion when they disappear – but I fear we’re wandering slightly off-topic now.

I won’t say I’ll never pop back here if inspiration suddenly hits (there’s nothing like a little lump of coal-black nastiness to dampen the Christmas spirit in December, say) but this is it for now. The book’s still in print and offers plenty of words and definitions you can’t find on the blog, as well as flash cards, exercises and other goodies.

If you’re really missing your fix of nasty things happening to innocent people, you’re welcome to stop by my new blog,
The Baby Died, which reprints fascinatingly horrible news snippets from times (thankfully) past. It’s not intended to be a laugh-fest but if, like me, you find yourself psychologically incapable of suppressing some sort of giggle at the thought of a gruesome accident, there’s a certain streak of irresponsible humour to be had.

Thanks for all your support, comments and alternative captions over the years. It’s been a blast. See you in the funnies,

30 November 2011

07 November 2011

Today's word is backpedal

Sometimes I have second thoughts. Sometimes I also have second helpings... but let’s concentrate on the thoughts for the moment before I make myself hungry. Specifically, let’s concentrate on yesterday’s thoughts – or, rather, today’s thoughts on yesterday’s post.

Was it too much? Was it not funny? Well, it wasn’t very subtle, certainly. And it wasn’t hugely funny, although I’d defend that one by pointing out that MFD isn’t always “funny” – sometimes I just get a kick out of the potentially disturbing juxtaposition of weird situations and cute pictures. Believe it or not, however, yesterday’s post wasn’t the first draft of the basic idea. I previously played around with some slightly softer scenarios, like this one:

My question to you is: Which of these two versions do you prefer? The milder but more left-to-your-imagination “hot tub” or the original “crying boy”? I’ll not make it a poll or anything, but please do let me know your thoughts.

Oh, and just in case you were upset...

10 March 2011


It’s happened. The first complaint about the content of My First Dictionary... the book.

Fortunately, bookstore owner and blogger Josie Leavitt – who describes her encounter with an unhappy customer in the article “A Censorship Issue” over at Publishers Weekly – is the level-headed sort, and recognizes that it’s simply wrong to let one person decide what books other people can and cannot read.

But I can sympathize with her niggling feeling of uncertainty when faced with an upset parent. While part of me feels secretly thrilled to have enraged a likely member of the self-righteous brigade, I don’t set out to genuinely distress anyone. Actually, I began MFD with the hope of making you laugh. Not everyone will, and that’s fine. Humour’s a personal thing. That’s why there’s no point telling someone else not to find something funny.

I’m glad Josie seems to have decided to continue stocking My First Dictionary. And I’m also glad she’s the kind of knowledgeable and enthusiastic bookseller who actually engages with her customers about the content of books when they come to her counter.

As a special thank-you, I’ll have to use her name in the next MFD entry. I’m thinking of featuring infanticide, necrophilia and, even worse, a spot of censorship.

28 February 2011


Wow, how about those Oscars, huh?

Anyway, that’s my attempt at topical blogging over with. All I really have to say today is: CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S BEEN A WHOLE YEAR SINCE THE GENIUSNESSNESS OF THE VERY US ARTISTS’ MY FIRST SING-ALONG DICTIONARY?!?!? Oops, seems I accidentally hit Caps Lock, italics, bold and several extra punctuation marks there, but the point remains... If you’ve forgotten just how good the gang’s gaggle of ditties based on MFD entries was, here’s a little reminder in the form of an album trailer:

Yes, an “album trailer”... Whatever will they think of next?

01 February 2011


A quick post to let you know that the print version of My First Dictionary is indeed out today in spectacular bookular form. Thanks to everyone who’s bought (or plans to buy) a copy... I hope you enjoy it!

I also got my first review a couple of days ago, in The Boston Globe:

Click here to continue reading

30 January 2011


With only a couple of days remaining until the release of the My First Dictionary book, I thought I’d give you a sneaky peek at the back cover:

Alongside words previously featured here on this very blog, the 192-page magnum opus comprises over 50% entirely new content, including vocab tests, flashcards and entries guaranteed never to appear online!

Who makes these guarantees? I DO! (Oh, and my publishing contract.) Besides, have you ever known italics to lie?


Click here to buy, or check out your local Amazon.

25 January 2011


Here’s a little treat for you today – a snippet from the genuine 1940s children’s dictionary that supplies the illustrations for My First Dictionary. As you can see, the original authors weren’t entirely without their own streak of black humour...