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How to Spell Like a Champ Paperback – October 20, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Paperback, October 20, 2006
$79.89 $39.64

Heroes of Black History
Collection of Five "Who Was" Biographies
In this box set, discover the life and times of five icons of black history and celebrate the difference they made in the world. Hardcover

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carolyn Andrews is the word list manager for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Her son, Ned, was the 1994 National Spelling Champion (his word was “antediluvian”).

Paige Kimble is the director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She was also the 1981 National Spelling Champion (her word was “sarcophagus”).

Barrie Trinkle, a graduate of MIT, has served on the Bee’s Word Panel since 1996. She was the 1973 National Spelling Champion (her word was “vouchsafe”).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


My first word was mango.
It was my first spelling bee, in my school gymnasium. I was nine.
I knew the word. I had studied the word. Besides, it is spelled phonetically.
So, with ease, the letters quickly rolled off my tongue.

A bell rang. Huh? I was in shock. What happened? It was not until I made it off the stage that my teacher explained my error. I bravely fought back tears and skulked back to the floor of the gymnasium with my schoolmates to watch the rest of the bee. I knew every word offered in that bee, and it stung to know that all I had to show for it was last place.

As a child, I developed an ever-growing fondness for words—words with shapes, textures, and tastes that delighted my senses and fueled my imagination. I devoured these words in library books while my father scoured the daily newspaper in search of interesting ones for me to learn.

One evening my family and I had stumbled upon a broadcast of the National Spelling Bee. I was captivated by the glorious, sometimes obscure words being offered to the young people on that stage and thrilled that I could spell some of the easier ones. And so my dream of participating in spelling bees was born, and there was nothing I wanted more than to go to the National Spelling Bee.

It might have been easy for me to drop my National Spelling Bee dream after the mango fiasco, but I was on fire about words. Time passed and my performance in spelling bees improved. My vocabulary and understanding of language patterns expanded greatly. There were disappointments, though, and more than once my parents asked,
“Do you really want to do this?”
My answer was this: Finally, three years and three months after “m-a-g-n-o,” I stood on a stage in Washington, D.C., and with a quivering voice, equal parts joy and nerves, correctly spelled the final word of the 1981 National Spelling Bee—sarcophagus.

A lot has changed since 1981. But instead of withering into antiquity, thanks to spellcheck, spelling bees are more popular than ever, saluted in documentaries like Spellbound, novels and movies like Bee Season, and even a Broadway musical entitled The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The publication of this book closely follows the release of another movie about spelling, Akeelah and the Bee, and James Maguire’s book about our obsession with spelling, American Bee. This year, a whopping 274 spellers from all fifty states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Canada, and New Zealand converged on Washington, D.C., for the 79th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. That’s not bad for a program that began with only nine finalists in 1925.

So kudos to the teachers and parents who inspire children to get it right, whether it’s a math problem or a challenging spelling word. And kudos to the kids who have the motivation to study words, the spunk to spell in front of a crowd, and the courage to acknowledge and learn from their successes and failures.
—Paige Kimble

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1140L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (October 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761143696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761143697
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on December 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Before I review this book, I should tell you my story--a story of spelling. I am a 13-year-old 8th grade girl who was in the hospital twice in the 7th Grade, sick with migraines for seven months and out of school for almost the whole year. Just when I thought I could go back to school in September for 8th grade, I got sick again in October and was out until the end of November. The week I came back, my teacher lined up the smartest students in the class to spell words they were studying. Since I had missed all the spelling tests, I was not one of them.

I knew that I used to be a good speller when I did go to school regularly and I always read a lot, even when I was really sick and I had to resort to audio books. So, I asked my teacher if I could participate. He nodded and in that spelling bee, I spelled as if I had never missed a day of school. Can you believe I tied as top speller in my class along with my twin sister, the #1 ranked student in the school? Since I was a winner, the next week, I found myself on stage in front of my whole school anxiously waiting for words with 11 other children hoping to win and represent our school in the District spelling bee.

After a few rounds, because of my studying (and a little bit of luck) I survived to be one of the 5 finalists. My twin sister stood up next and was asked to spell "bureaucracy". She spelled it incorrectly and walked off the stage --- 4 remained. One after the other, student tripped up on hard words that the teachers were throwing at the students. There were two left. I was one of them. One would be the champ of the school spelling bee. The 7th grader had to spell "nemesis" in order to win. Instead, she spelled it "nemisis". She had tripped up, but I knew the word!
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4 Comments 100 of 103 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
How to Spell Like a Champ is an excellent book and really helps students with spelling. My son read this book, and became very motivated. He decided to participate in the school spelling bee. He learned excellent study habits and how words with different language origins have different rules. This book includes word lists, stories of past spelling bee contestants at the national level, and includes a CD that puts you in the life of a student competing at the spelling bee from the class bee to the final round of the National Spelling Bee.

Three authors were involved in writing this book: Carolyn Andrew, Barrie Trinkle, and Paige Kimble. Carolyn Andrew's son won the national spelling bee in 1994, Barrie Trinkle won it in 1973, and Paige Kimble won it in 1981. My son was so motivated, and learned so much, he worked hard, and in result, won his school spelling bee, and got to compete in the regional spelling bee. In the regionals, he placed third. THIRD!!! I WAS SO HAPPY FOR HIM! I know he is excited about next year's spelling bee. You HAVE to buy this book. I would also highly recommend watching the movie Spellbound.
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By M. Norcross on December 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to help your child win a spelling bee it is worth the investment. You cannot get by with out a Webster's third edition dictionary becuase you will have to provide pronunciation and definition to your child. Go more high tech and get the software version of the dictionary. It will save you hours of time looking words up.

This Champ book has a nice layout. You'll get to see previous national spellers, see what some spellers chose as careers, spelling rules, most common misspelled words and spelling games. I probably read the book more then my 5th grader did. However he did win his school bee, his district bee, and placed 5th at his regional bee.

The CD in nice too. Warning: The printer put a small slip of paper inside the book for words in the book that are misspelled accidently. Make sure you take an inkpen and change the spellings in the book before you hand it to your child. Chances are the little slip of paper will become lost.
1 Comment 20 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This book was actually very helpful to me. Not knowing what would it lead me to, i joined our school spelling bee club in December, last year. I had no idea that i would actually be in our school spelling bee. Then, we had our winter break; and over the winter break, i actually saw a re-run of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee. And i was so amazed, yet motivated at the same time. That's when I decided, I want to go to the National Spelling Bee.

Yes, it was the last week of December, and I hardly had any time. I mean, people who go all the way to D.C. study starting from the summer right? So just to get a start, I bought this book, How to Spell like a Champ. This book taught me a lot! The CD also did too. But the book was great...not only did it give you tips, but it let you live through the National Spelling Bee, and it included a bunch of words throughout the whole book! And there were so many interesting facts on every other page. It wasn't like those boring non-fiction books. And so, even though I started this whole spelling interest this year, in January, I'm glad I did.

And the best part is, I'm really going to the Nationals this year. =) And it only took two months of studying. Did I mention that this book was a big help?
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