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Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster

Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster

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 in the , 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 Booklist

Gr. 3-5. Frasier, author of On the Day You Were Born (1991), offers a story in picture-book format for older readers. When fifth-grader Sage mistakenly hears the word mis cellaneous as Miss Alaineus and comes up with her own , she is mortified to hear the teacher and the entire class laugh. She manages to turn their amusement to her benefit, though, when she appears in the schoolwide vocabulary contest as Miss Alaineus and wins a for "The Most Original Use of a Word in the Tenth Annual Vocabulary Parade." Frasier deserves her own trophy for most original use of school supplies, since, according to the dust jacket, she made the illustrations from "what she found in her daughter's fifth-grade desk--no fancy art supplies; just markers, notebook paper, pencils, glue, and scissors." Using bright, solid-colored papers as well, she creates a series of large-scale, brightly colored collages that resemble a grade-school student's artwork, but with a more advanced sense of design. Although some children will be put off by the picture-book format, fans of Marissa Moss' Amanda's Notebook series may be open to this highly visual, first-person story. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Kirkus Reviews

Sage has the flu and receives her vocabulary list via a hurried phone call from her best friend, who spells all but the last word. Sage spells the unfamiliar word as best she can and compounds the problem by writing her own highly imaginative definition without the benefit of a dictionary. The hilarious error is discovered during a vocabulary bee and she is "devastated, ruined, finished." The format of this enchanting book is ingenious. Words are defined within the text and as part of the colorful illustrations. Frasier (Out of the Ocean, 1998, etc.) uses pencil and markers on notebook paper to create a complete record of Sage's vocabulary disaster and ensuing triumph. A border of sentences that Sage writes for another assignment provides a subtext that explains her emotions as the plot unfurls. There is also an addendum in the form of a "vocabulary parade Scrapbook." Even the end papers and the flyleaf are an integral part of the book. There are delightful surprises on every page of this charmer. It is sure to be a favorite that will be read again and again. (Picture book. 6-9) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


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 (School Library Journal )

Product Description

Sage has misheard and misunderstood one of Mrs. Page's weekly . Her error leads to a humbling catastrophe:a momentous tragedy, in front of the entire class. Can Sage turn her vocabulary disaster:an event bringing great misfortune, into a triumph:a true success? Anyone who has ever been daunted:discouraged or disheartened, by a mere word in the dictionary will cheer wildly:in a manner lacking all restraint, as Sage transforms embarrassment into victory in Debra Frasier's touching story of loving--and mistaking--our glorious language.

About the Author

Debra Frasier created the illustrations for this book from what she found in her fifth-grade daughter's desk-markers, notebook paper, pencils, glue, and scissors. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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