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BOOK REVIEW: A IS FOR ATTICUS

The Book: A is for Atticus

The Author: Lorilee Craker

Publication Info: Published August, 2008, by Center Street Publishing, New York

Author’s Track Record: Lorilee Craker is the author of ten books, including A is for Adam: Biblical Baby Names, published in 2000. Recently, she co-wrote, with Lynne Spears, mother of Britney Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears, the memoir Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.

What You Get:

One of the most refreshing, original baby name books to appear on the shelves in recent years. Refreshing, because Craker understands very well that when it comes to choosing a baby name, less is often more, and rather than wading through a million baby name definitions that tell you very little, many parents, seeking meaningful names for their children, want quality over quantity in baby name books. Original, because Craker has tapped an under-mined resource for baby names, the world of literature, and tapped it well. A is for Atticus brings you a surprising, delightful trove of baby names, some five hundred in all, culled from 'Great Books,' spanning many centuries and cultures.

Craker, a writer and self-professed book addict, knows her subject matter. She is clearly very well-read, a lover of classic literature ranging from Shakespeare to Jane Austen, from Gulliver's Travels to Anne of Green Gables, and, it seems, everything in between. The name Atticus, of course, is taken from the hero of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.

A is for Atticus is divided into two sections, for girls and boys. For each name, Craker provides an in-depth profile which in every case delivers enough new background material to help parents make an informed choice. Readers will learn how popular a name is, what others might think of it, and whether it is likely to get your child teased. The literary heritage of a name is fully described, along with how a name has waxed and waned in popularity over the years. Modern cultural references, such as which celebrity popularized a name, sit side by side with the Roman and Greek roots of names. Best of all, Craker turns the description of each name into a tiny story itself, resulting in a book that is packed with interesting facts and literary references.

Craker has chosen her names well, providing a range from familiar to obscure, from 'safe,' to 'cutting edge'. There are classic names such as Charles, and contemporary (though still literary) names like Emily. Names like Tarquin appear alongside names like Thomas. Different ethnic backgrounds, including African-American and Latino, are well-represented with names from their literary heritages. For parents who want a thoughtful, and thought-provoking book of baby names, with meaningful information, A is for Atticus is a must-read. There's a reason why it's currently the top-selling baby names book on Amazon.


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