With email making the art of letter writing almost obsolete and texting turning spelling into truncated babble, this picture book is a clever and refreshing antidote.
Beatrice likes to make letters—not the mail kind, but the kind that form words—correctly. While she knows her alphabet and can write all the letters, her problem is putting them in the right order. Her grandma Nanny Hannah comes to her rescue and shows her a technique. Voilà, the more Beatrice spells (even words that are L-U-L-Us), the more she learns how words are put together. “That’s my spelling Bea,” says Nanny Hannah. Enthusiastic about her newly found skill, Beatrice launches a spelling campaign, correcting all the misspelled signs in town, but when she tries to start a spelling club, none of the kids are interested. That is, until her dictionary sparks an idea. The next day, when it’s her turn for show and tell, she changes the spelling on the blackboard to show and spell! Her report on her pet T-A-R-A-N-T-U-L-A and its T-E-R-R-A-R-I-U-M home is a huge hit, turning the whole class into spelling bugs. Potter’s quirky illustrations have just the right childlike quality to complement the text, cleverly incorporating amusing details. The ending neatly ties up the storyline with Beatrice writing a real letter, the kind that begins with “Dear Somebody.”
Beatrice, whose own name is a bit of a L-U-L-U, is totally charming, and the story and artwork are a P-E-R-F-E-C-T M-A-T-C-H. (Picture book. 5-8)