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
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