What a Wonderful Word:
A Collection of Untranslatables from Around the World

by Nicola Edwards

What a Wonderful Word

This book is a collection of words that are untranslatable. It describes unique words from around the world and helps us to see the wonder of language.

What A Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards

When I was a little girl my dad thought it was hilarious to stand next to me, then tap me on the opposite shoulder from behind. I often fell for the joke. After I finally figured out what was going on, I began to play along, and intentionally made a point to look in the wrong direction. We’d laugh at the silliness of the stunt.

Well, come to find out, they have a word for this type of prank in Indonesia! It’s “mencolek.”

The book is filled 28 other untranslatable words. Many of them are funny, some of them are heart-warming and all of them speak to a situation that you are probably familiar with. They make you go, “Ah! Yes! Thank you for putting a word to that experience!”

What A Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards

Photo from the publisher Kane Miller

Along with each definition, there are interesting facts about the words. Nicole Edwards describes some of the culture from which the word is derived, as well. That is the reason many of these words exist. They are often tied to a certain way of life that many other cultures are not familiar with.

Age Level

What A Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards

Photo from the publisher Kane Miller

I would recommend this book for all ages! Younger children will want to read it with an adult, but everyone can receive inspiration from it.


The illustrator is Luisa Uribe. I was excited to see her name on this book cover because I recently reviewed her new book, Your Name is a Song. She is a gorgeous illustrator who lives in Colombia.

I like her work because of the bright, bold colors. Each picture has lots of movement and has you wondering what might happen next.

If you are interested in seeing more of her work, I would also recommend this gorgeous version of The Secret Garden.

Read Aloud

This book would make a fun read aloud for children. It would also be important to read part of it with kids of any age in order to help them with the word pronunciations. There is a list of pronunciations at the back of the book.

What A Wonderful Word by Nicola Edwards

Photo from the publisher Kane Miller

Teaching Opportunities

This would be a great book to work through slowly with your kids:

  • Together, read a page at a time and make it a game to use the word in your everyday conversation.
  • Talk about the information shared about the culture and see if you can tie any of the country’s traditions into your own routine for a few days.
  • Discuss the importance of learning new words. How does this help you to become a better reader? How does this help you to understand others a little more?
  • Observe the illustrations before you start reading. Make a prediction of what you think the word might be about. Were you correct?
  • How does the picture help you to understand the meaning of the word better?
  • Read our list of fairy tales from around the world. Make connections to these stories and the untranslatable word you are reading about!
    • Also discuss the traditions found in different cultures from the fairy tales compared to what you learn about the untranslatable word.

Other Books by Nicola Edwards

Thanks for reading our book review of What a Wonderful Word. You can find other reviews in our Library.

What A Wonderful Word Book Review

*We use affiliate links to share products with you. If you use the link to make a purchase, the cost of the book doesn’t go up for you. However, we will receive a commission and we do appreciate your support.