MS. SPELL by Ethan Long


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Age Range: 7 - 10
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Step aside Ms. Frizzle. The pink-haired Ms. Spell has spelling to teach, and unlike her science-teaching peer, her lessons aren’t particularly calm or disaster-free.

During a brief review before a surprise spelling test, Ms. Spell asks various students to spell some common problem words—“their,” “were,” “two”—which they spell incorrectly. It’s a teaching opportunity, of course, and she follows up with the students by asking them to correctly use the words in sentences, which her magic wand then makes manifest: “A giant chocolate cake is sitting over THERE!” results in an enormous pastry; “These TWO boys are crazy flying monkeys with laser beams shooting out their eyes” yields a particularly exciting transformation. The principal and the word “went” put paid to the magical nonsense, but hopefully the lessons learned will stick with the students, and readers too: the differences among the homophones, the “I before E” rule, and a bit about contractions and silent letters. Long’s digital illustrations add to the zaniness of the classroom situation, especially those monkeys. The endpapers add to the lesson with some commonly misspelled words, steps for studying, memory aids, and a few rules.

Readers may be on the fence as to whether or not to wish for a teacher like Ms. Spell, but regardless, this may boost t-h-e-i-r spelling grades. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3292-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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