Sage is home sick, but she is trying to continue with her vocabulary homework. It goes awry when she mistakes miscellaneous for Miss Alaineus. Her mother is holding a box with spaghetti hair on it when she mentions she needs “miscellaneous things” from which Sage concludes she is the woman on the box. When she defines it that way, the whole class laughs. Sage is devastated until she ends as Miss Alaineus, Queen of All Miscellaneous Things at the Vocabulary Parade. This book is full of charming puns and built in word definitions.
Debra Frasier, Harcourt, ©2000, ISBN 0-15-202163-9
This book is a terrific writing model for students. Sage, our storyteller, enjoys defining words and regularly halts her sentences to define a word. The word is in bold, and the definition is in italics.
“I thought she was an ancestor, an ancient relative long dead, who had left us…”
“ Impossible,” I told her. Impossible: not capable of happening.”
“I was devastated: wasted ravaged. Ruined: destroyed. Finished: brought to an end.”
For the most part, Sage creates her own definitions. Students could write their own clever stories using this strategy—to write in the first person and to stop the story to define a word. This is also an opportunity to encourage the development and use of an extensive vocabulary.
The A-Z Vocabulary Challenge
In the borders of the book are sentences relating to the plot, but emphasizing the letters of the alphabet in order:
- B “What did I tell you? This berserk bacteria has bulldozed me badly. Help!”
- D “I am defective and delirious, and so I will dwindle away.” (The author has a cold at the time.)
After students have written a simple story, ask them to change and add to it until it has 24 sentences. Then ask them to place 3 A words (using fresh verbs, adjectives, etc.) into the first sentence; 3 B words in the second…skipping X and Z (hence 24 sentences).
For 9 writing ideas, click Miss Alaineus to download.