As soon as The B on Your Thumb (Frances Lincoln) appeared in the mail, it grabbed my attention. The book consists 60 poems written by Colette Hillier which all play on language and spelling. As a non-native speaker of English, I was instantly drawn to it because it highlights with humour, but a gentle touch, all the really confusing and quite frankly bewildering issues with some English spellings and pronunciations. Teamed with Tor Freeman’s wonderfully funny illustrations, The B on Your Thumb addresses quite a serious subject for EAL students and those struggling with spelling in brilliant, engaging way. It encourages readers to understand how language works and is a really ludic way to tackle those common misspellings. I really wanted to find out more about the books, and I was delighted that Colette agreed to write about it for Library Mice.


There’s something immediately rewarding about understanding a joke in a foreign language. Even the simplest joke is pleasing. The very fact that you understand it is gratifying.  My new book, The B on your Thumb (published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), is a collection of rhymes to help make sense of the strange territory that is the English language.  Using rhythm, humour and a dash of silliness, these rhymes explain some of the oddities of English. They’re as relevant to those learning English as a second language as they are to native speakers.

For the fact is, English is a peculiar language.   

Some letters sound as they are meant to

Other letters change

They go and make surprising noises

English can be strange!

Why is there a B in doubt? When does a C seem to turn to an S? Why does  PH  make a sound like an F?  Here is a rhyme that can help clarify a rule  (or lack of  thereof!) . 

Certain words can sound alike, it’s hard to know what’s right or write.   She went and ate eight ice cream cones. Is it whole or is it hole?  Homonyms can be confusing, but a simple rhyme can help.   Take Which Witch For example,

The B also includes a number of ‘magic spells ‘ to help readers to remember tricky spellings.

Interestingly, many of the words that trip up young readers are the same words that trip up adults.  When writing these, my challenge was to make them rhythmic and simple, so they’d be easy to recall.

The important thing with these rhymes is to have fun with them.  Act them, sing them, move to them. If you enjoy them, do let me know.  I love receiving feedback and videos.www.colettehiller.com


Thank you so much Colette!
The B on My Thumb is published by Frances Lincoln and can be found in all good bookshops are online here.

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