Friday, February 22, 2008

Word Play

As a teacher, I often use Brian Cleary and Ruth Heller’s work to introduce parts of speech. Brian Cleary has two new books—one on Adverbs and one about word play. Another book about antonyms is now out in paperback.

The Laugh Stand: Adventures in Humor
By Brian P. Cleary
Illustrations by J. P. Sandy
Millbrook Press, 2008

Do you know a kid (or kids) who love word play? Do they love to think about words, play with words, manipulate, postulate, invent, subvert words? Then you need to get this book. It’s clever. Cleary has clearly spent a lot of time messing with words. Here are some the fun games he plays with words in this book:

Anagrams—rearranging words to create other words.
Example: saint, satin, stain
He takes letters and makes multiple words out of the same letters, but he also takes letters, makes multiple words, and strings them together in funny sentences.

Curl Up and Diagram—he writes rhyming poetry using as many parts of speech as he can, color-coding the words by part of speech.

Tom Swifties—these are fun puns that include adverbs.
Example: “Stop! Thief!” Tom said arrestingly.

Obfuscation Station—Underneath a wordy sentence, there is a simple, rhyming statement. Can you translate them?
Example: “The mongrel canine descended on the back of his hip that form the fleshy part of his backside.”
Translation: “The mutt fell on his butt.”

And there are more word games: math poetry, musical coded words, daffynitions and more. Brian Cleary is amazing at creating these gems that make our language so entertaining. This book would be a great addition to a teacher’s personal collection or as a gift for kid who loves word puzzles.

The back of the book includes answer keys to the puzzles, a list of books for further reading and a list of websites with more word play puzzles.

Lazily, Crazily, Just a Bit Nasily: More about Adverbs
By Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Brian Gable
Millbrook Press, 2008

This book is part of the Words are CATegorical series that Brian Cleary has written about words (mostly books on parts of speech).

In this book he plays with adverbs. He gives lots of examples of all types of adverbs. It is written in a rhythmic fashion that causes the words to roll off the reader’s tongue. However, to really absorb all of the examples and explanations that are in this book, you must slow down, reread and think about everything that is packed into this little book.

Stop and Go, Yes and No: What is an Antonym?
By Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Brian Gable
Millbrook Press, 2006

This antonym book follows the same style and rhythm of other books in the “Words are CATegorical” series. However, this book is different than most antonym concept books. Most books with synonyms or antonyms are concept books meant for the very young child—to introduce them to these ideas for the very first time. This book takes antonyms a few steps further. Cleary talks about how prefixes can change the meanings of words and create opposites. He also uses bigger words that might require further inquiry, even from older readers like “hefty and diminutive”. Another great book in this series for teachers!

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