A Very Witchy Spelling Bee

A Very Witchy Spelling Bee
George Shannon, Ill. Mark Fearing


Shannon, G. 2013. A very witchy spelling bee. NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Cordelia is a young witch who loved to spell. She loved to spell words instead of speaking them, and even more so, she loved turning words into other words using only one letter. She practiced her spells and her spelling by mixing the two, turning objects from one thing to another by adding a letter. When the town has an annual spelling bee for witches, Cordelia wants to enter, even though she is the youngest contestant. While her mother wants her to wait until she is older, she is confident she can win. The long-time winner Beulah Divine, age 203, is jealous. Many witches enter, but it comes down to the last two, Cordelia and Beulah, and while Cordelia plays fair, Beulah takes to attacking her personally, turning her EARS into PEARS, and her HAIR into a CHAIR. This gives Cordelia her winning answer, by turning Beulah, the FIEND, into a FRIEND.

Quantitative Summary:
ATOS Book Level: 3.3
Interest Level: Lower Grades (LG K-3)

Qualitative Summary:
This is a really fun book that plays on the same concept as laddergrams: adding a letter to make one word into another book. The language is dense and uses wordplay, suggesting that it might be better for older students and that it would be a good read-aloud book. Its knowledge demands are low, using no allusions to other texts, and playing on a relatively common experience: spelling and spelling bees. There is a singular narrator and one main character with no viewpoint shifts. The language is what strikes me as Middle low, while everything else is low.
Curriculum Tie Ins:
This would be a great book to work with spelling. The class could be involved in their own “spell-ing bee” with objects used to illustrate the change made with the addition of a letter.


English/Language Arts

1.0   General Reading Processes: Comprehension: Students will use a variety of strategies to understand what they read (construct meaning).


1. Develop comprehension skills through exposure to a variety of print and nonprint texts, including traditional print and electronic texts

a. Listen to critically, read, and discuss texts representing diversity in content, culture, authorship, and perspective, including areas such as race, gender, disability, religion, and socioeconomic background

b. *Read a minimum of 25 self-selected and/or assigned books or book equivalents representing various genres

c. Discuss reactions to and ideas/information gained from reading experiences with adults and peers in both formal and informal situations

3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text: Students will read, comprehend, interpret, analyze, and evaluate literary text.

Author’s website: http://www.georgewbshannon.comcastbiz.net/