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Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster Hardcover – August 1, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sniffling and coughing through a week at home with a cold, Sage (one who shows wisdom, experience, judgment") misunderstands one of Mrs. Page's vocabulary words in the homework assignment, and the resulting embarrassment in front of her fifth-grade class leaves her "devastated: wasted, ravaged. Ruined: destroyed. Finished: brought to an end." Miss Alaineus is not, as Sage determined in her "defective and delirious" mind, "the woman on green spaghetti boxes whose hair is the color of uncooked pasta and turns into spaghetti at the ends." Sage slumps home after the vocabulary bee fiasco, to her mom's comforting, if seemingly impossible words: "There's gold in every mistake." Fortunately, and as always, mothers know best.

Debra Frasier (author-illustrator of On the Day You Were Born) has created a masterpiece of clever wordplay in her hilarious and poignant story of the exquisite pain of schoolgirl mortification. One sentence using vocabulary words from A to Z runs along the bottom or side of each page ("Obliterate me, send me to oblivion--no one could outdo my stupidity"). Not just for word-worms, virtually any kid will identify with the occasionally confusing world of learning, and be reassured by the happy conclusion. Frasier's youthful artwork was inspired by her daughter's fifth-grade desk. "No fancy art supplies; just markers, notebook paper, pencils, glue, and scissors." The result is eminently inviting for grade-school children. (Ages 8 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-This inventive picture book is a spelling book, a vocabulary book, a game book, and a costume book all rolled into one. Sage, a fifth grader who is home sick, phones a classmate to get her homework assignment. In a big hurry, Starr spells each word out except for the last one. Mistakenly, Sage writes what she hears, Miss Alaineus. When she returns to school, Mrs. Page holds a Vocabulary Bee and gives her the word miscellaneous. Her creative spelling and definition sends the class into gales of laughter, much to Sage's dismay. Resolution occurs 10 days later when she arrives at the Annual Vocabulary Parade dressed as "Miss Alaineus, Queen of all Miscellaneous Things." The student's ability to take her mistake and remake it into a positive experience is a valuable lesson. The text and marker illustrations are detailed and appealing, crammed full of fun ways to promote the study of the English language. There is a hidden-word game on the endpapers, an extra credit assignment using alphabetical sentences on every page, and pictures of Sage's Vocabulary Parade Scrapbook on the last three pages.
Karen Land, Greenport Public Schools, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1 edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152021639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152021634
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 10.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Debra Frasier is the author and illustrator of many award-winning picture books including On the Day You Were Born and Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster. In addition to her well-known talks on creative process, Debra's innovative "Book Events" build a community's creativity through projects that start with a story. Visit debrafrasier.com to see how a parade of words can make you laugh, how the alphabet can transform a school carnival into a Word Event, or how a talking dog can make your heart swell and teach first-person writing at the same time!

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
88%
4 star
8%
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4%
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See all 48 customer reviews
My fourth grade class loved the book!
Ann Waddle
Sage is a great tool to start a discussion about how we can deal with making mistakes in a graceful mannor.
Michelle P. Adkins
It is also the clever use of vocabulary words to tell the alphabetical story of her disease symptoms.
M. Heiss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on February 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Poor Sage (one who shows wisdom, experience, judgement) is home with the flu and gets the weekly vocabulary words and assignment from her friend Starr (who is not a luminous celestial object seen as a point of light in the sky). Unfortunately, she does not quite get the last word down and that is the basis for her story. Instead of writing miscellaneous (consisting of various kinds of qualities, a collection of unrelated objects), she writes Miss Alaineus, defining it as (the woman on green spaghetti boxes who hair is the color of uncooked pasta and turns into spaghetti at the ends). Sage is devastated (wasted, ravaged) as the class, including Mrs Page (who is not a single side of a printed sheet of paper usually found bound in a book) burst into laughter and she turns red (the color of embarrassment). But as her mother explains, "There's gold (a bright yellow precious metal of great value") in every mistake (something done, said, or thought in the wrong way). And her mother was right. Sage uses this embarrassing error and goes on, to her astonishment (great shock and amazement), to win the gold trophy at the Annual Vocabulary Parade..... Debra Frasier has taken the boredom out of spelling words and definitions and written a marvelous, inventive and creative story, kids 5 and up will just love. Filled with hundreds of words and definitions, a terrific story line and detailed, expressive illustrations, youngsters will begin to understand and enjoy the power of words and how important it is to use them correctly. And as Sage triumphs (a true success), kids will see that making a mistake is not the worst thing that can happen, in fact it sometimes leads to great success (a favorable or desired outcome of something attempted). Miss Alaineus A Vocabulary Disaster is a special and unique book that should be included in every home library, and is sure to be a classic, in years to come.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Xeneri on August 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Poor Sage! Home sick from school, Sage gets her vocabulary assignment from a friend but misunderstands one of the words. When her creative definition is discovered during the "vocabulary bee", she becomes embarrassed (to cause or experience a state of self-conscious distress ) in front or her class. In her own words, Sage is "devastated: wasted, ravaged. Ruined: destroyed. Finished: brought to an end."
Grade school mortification was never this entertaining or educational. Clever wordplay and illustrations highlight "Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster". Vocabulary words are defined within the text and as part of the colorful illustrations -- consisting of magic markers, notebook paper, pencils, glue, and scissors. There are even hidden words for you to find and define!
This book is both funny (affording light mirth and laughter) and imaginative (showing a command of imagery). Buy it for your kids or just if you have a love of language.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Karen O. Roy on September 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sage Becomes Sager
This delightful story by award-winning Debra Frasier is a unique trendsetter. As a school librarian, I read and preview many books annually. This is the first book that, upon completion, has prompted me to get online and to participate ([...] Ms Frasier suggests the wonderful idea of organizing a Vocabulary Parade and even presents methods for school wide implementation. Students in all grades can choose a word to demonstrate and this merriment can alleviate the drudgery of the dreaded weekly vocabulary lessons and quizzes. In this age of exhortations toward self-expression and toward community involvement, the concept of dressing up as a word and then presenting your interpretation to the world is intriguing. Sage is embarrassed! In improvising on her definitions of vocabulary words she reveals her lazy methods publicly. Later, she takes her mother's advice, and capitalizes on her error. Can Mom's maxim that there's gold in some mistakes be true? Yes! And can it be applied universally? Yes! A redemptive and illustrative theme resides there for us all. This tale of woe to whoa is rollicking and inspirational.. In addition to the group activity, the book demands re-reading as it is stuffed with other fascinating parts. The end papers contain a Word Search. Sage's free-form definitions and dictionary designations provide the borders and the basis for the Word Search. Included in the activity sheet are 100 vocabulary words to spark costume ideas and step-by-step art techniques. Most importantly, children become aware of the efficacy of words and of their correct usage. I certainly intend to follow Ms Frasier's pioneering lead and plan to spearhead a Vocabulary Parade at my school.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dana H. Pasterjak on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a lot of fun. I was introducted to Miss Alaineous at a teacher's workshop and conference. It was read aloud to us by the person conducting the workshop and all of us howled in laughter.
The art work is like nothing you have ever seen before, very vivid, bright and certainly original. I bought the book to share with kids in the classroom. The Vocabulary Parade and the sentences on each page (A to Z) are great ideas to use to make school more exciting.
A true delight and I am looking forward to more from this author!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bee on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I was excited to share it with my fifth grade class, and they were mesmerized from the very first words...and I began with the Extra Credit Assignment! Anyone who could have watched the enjoyment on the faces of those students would have already ordered their copy of this book. I can tell it was a hit because every student has requested to read it again themselves.

Buy this book! You will not be disappointed!
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