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Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster
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Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  403 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Sage has misheard and misunderstood one of Mrs. Page's weekly vocabulary words. 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 dictionar
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 2nd 1900)
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Kaitlyn Cantrell
Summary: The word "miscellaneous" is misunderstood so a young girl is embarrassed by her whole class. She ends up finding the bright side of it and makes it a point to stand out in every costume from then on.
Evaluation: This book was funny while also teaching that it's ok to be wrong. She was extremely embarrassed in the beginning, but her mom and teacher helped her through it.
Teaching Idea: Ask students to think of other words that can be easily misunderstood and collaborate to find ways to r
Rachel Hilton
Sage is sick on spelling day. Her teacher gives out students a new spelling words, and Sage mistakes her teacher for saying Miss Alaineus instead of saying miscellaneous. She is able to determine the meaning of these spelling words, except the one she misunderstands, miscellaneous. When she gets to this word she think it is the name of a teacher. It does not help that Sage is sick on the days the whole class reviews the spelling words. When Sage comes back to school her teacher decides
Emily Sims
Summary: This is a book about a little girl who loves school and vocabulary. One day she gets sick and has to miss the introduction of her new vocabulary words. She phones a friend to get the words and definitions for the week but her friend has to hang up before she can tell her the last spelling and definition of a word. She develops her own ideas of the word through her experiences and when she goes to present to her class, she realizes that she was wrong in the meaning of the word, Miss Alai ...more
Stephanie Watson
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-education
This story is a common scenario kids can relate to: they think they figure out the meaning of an unknown word, only to be embarrassed when they use the word the wrong way in public. Though the protagonist in this story is teased for her mistake, she figures out a way to use it to her advantage.

This book has a lot going on: the actual story-telling text is filled with dictionary-like definitions. Along the side of each page, a sentence is written that adds to the storyline; each of these sentence
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Miss Alaineus tells the entertaining story of a young student who tries to define every word she hears. But when it comes to the word “miscellaneous”, even her best efforts result in the wrong, laughable definition.
Evaluation: This book was so fun to read!. Even though there are some complicated words used, with the right vocal inflection, this text can be used in even a younger grade teach new vocabulary.
Teaching Idea: Using this book to go over old and new vocabulary, teachers can re
Tabatha Mulkey
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-21-30
Summary: Sage loves vocabulary. However, there is one word she doesn't understand. The word is miscellaneous. She thinks this is a person. When she embarrassed herself in front of the whole class, she turns embarrassment into victory.

Evaluation: I liked this book a lot!! I think this book is a great way for kids to see that it is okay to make mistakes and not everyone knows everything. She is great and loves vocab, but gets confused on a word. She learns from it.

Teaching Idea: I would use this
This is a story of a girl Sage who missed school on vocabulary day and had to get the vocabulary words from her friend. The friend was in a hurry and did not spell one last word for her. When Sage goes back to school on Monday, it’s spelling bee day, and she gets the one word from the list that she missed: miscellaneous. She proudly spells the word as Miss Alaineous and embarrasses herself in front of her class. Even the teacher laughs at her creative definition. Sage is devastated, but then she ...more
Heather Schwalm
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Such a neat classroom tool to introduce a vocabulary parade. Vocabulary is a bit tough for 3rd graders, but if you pre-teach a slight this story is very helpful.
Jasmine Yanich
Miss Alaineus is the story of Sage, a girl who unfortunately became sick and missed school on Wednesday, which is Vocabulary Day. She had to get the vocabulary words from her best friend, Starr, and one misheard word makes for a comical and disastrous week for Sage. When Sage finally gets over her sickness and goes back to school on Monday, she finds out they are having a spelling bee that day and she is given the word Miss Alaineus, or so she thought. She defined it proudly only to find out she ...more
(NS) Lisa
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Forest ("Forest is not a thicket of trees. Forest is a boy. A sick boy") coughs and sneezes "all over her desk and pencils," fifth-grader Sage catches a cold and must stay home from Webster School, missing Vocabulary Day. She receives her vocabulary list through 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 using the dictionary. Wh ...more
(NS) Brea M
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 erroneous definition, 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 gold trophy for "The Most Original Use of a Wo ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Miss Alaineus is about a girl named Sage who gets sick one day and has to stay home from school. She calls her friend to give her the vocabulary words they had for homework. Unfortunately, Sage did not spell one of the words correctly that leads to her embarrassment in front of the entire class. Sage, however, turns this moment of embarrassment as a fun idea for her teachers' annual vocabulary parade.

The texts effective use of conventions help reveal the author’s voice. The author uses bold lett
Derek Slagle
This story is about a young girl named Sage. Sage gets sick and misses vocabulary day in her classroom and has to get his vocab word from a classmate. When getting her vocab words she miss hears one of the words which ends in embarrassment in the classroom. Although she was sad at the end of the day she had an idea for the vocabulary parade. Her idea was to use her mistake to become Miss Alaineus queen of miscellaneous things. Her idea won her best costume for the parade. This allows her to real ...more
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-books
Sage misheard and misunderstood one of her teacher's weekly vocabulary words. When the Voacabulary Bee session held that day in class room, Sage got the last word. She spells and defines the word, when there was a moment of silence. Then the entire class burst into huge giggling and laughing. What had she said? Why were they laughing?

Here's what happened: When her teacher pronounce the word MISCELLANEOUS, Sage spells Miss Alaineus, and define it: "the woman on green spaghetti boxes whose hair is
(NS) Panagiota Angelos
Sniffling and coughing through a week at home with a cold, Sage (one who shows wisdom, experience, judgment") misunderstands one of Mrs. Page's vocabulary words in the homework assignment, 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 pas ...more
(NS) Lauren
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grade Level/Interest Level: 3-5

Fifth-grader Sage earns a new nickname, "Miss Alaineus", after she makes a mistake in front of the whole class during a vocabulary bee. After her initial embarrassment, Sage decides to embrace the new nickname in a creative way during her school's annual Vocabulary Parade.

This example of realistic fiction deals with the theme of making mistakes. The illustrations use bold colors, stripes, and patterns, and are reminiscent of fifth-grade notebook doodles. The text
Tahya Bruce
This is a perfect book that allows kids to learn as they go. In the book there are a lot of vocab words that the girl talks about, but in the story they explain the definition of each and every word. I would definitely recommend this book. I think that this book would be good for upper elementary. Although it is a picture book, upper elementary kids can still find value of the words in the book. Plus in the book, the paragraphs are pretty lengthy so that is a reason why this wouldn't be ideal fo ...more
Kelsey Scherer
A fun and entertaining way to introduce spelling words, defining them, and fun ways to incorporate spelling into the classroom. I love how it was about Sage who was sick from Forest and missed school. So she called Star for her spelling words, since she missed Vocabulary day, and she misinterpreted the word miscellaneous. Although she was laughed she turned it into the greatest costume ever for their 10th annual vocab contest. A great book for children to learn concepts of being yourself and to ...more
Amy Schmitz
Sage is sick and is forced to miss school. As a result, she gets the incorrect spelling for one of the weekly vocabulary words. This simple mistake causes her major embarrassment in front of the class. Sage learns from her mistake and is able to win in the end. This humorous book is great for teaching vocabulary. There are a lot of unusual words provided throughout the story. It is also good to teach students how to handle making mistakes in a positive way.
Janet Chen
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Interesting book, my school is doing a project using this book and a vocabulary parade. I think this book is a little bit too long, so you would need to set aside a proper amount of time or maybe read it in chunks throughout the days but the beginning is something most of the students can relate too and the ending is adorable as you see all the different costumes they made for the parade. The vocabulary in the book is great and that is mainly what the book focuses on.
Emily Graham
This was a very cleverly written story about Sage who was absent from school on Vocabulary Day and has to get the words she missed from a friend. However she misunderstands one of the words and gets embarrassed when she is doing her spelling game with the class. This could relate to any student who has ever been part of a spelling competition and it also includes great vocab words that you could talk about with your students.
Emily Kuhn
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Giggles will be heard by all during this witty, vocabulary-filled picturebook. Debra Frasier creates a story overflowing with words, definitions, and fun. When Sage misunderstands the vocabulary word "miscellaneous" and her classmates laugh at her, she wishes she could disappear from embarrassment. In this redemptive storyline, Sage and her mother teach us that we can turn our most disastrous moments or mistakes into our most shining moments.
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My block professor read this last semester. It is a really cute book and is great for an english lesson and teaching the importance of vocabulary.
It is about a girl that misses a day at school, from then on she is confused and doesnt really get what is going on and of course a happy ending.
There is also tons of great lessons plans that can be found online to go with this book
Ruth Ann
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the author of ON THE DAY YOU WERE BORN, comes this book about the multiple meanings and spellings of words. It is a fun look at word play but it also explores the theme of making something positive out of your mistakes. It is illustrated solely with items from a student's desk, markers, notebook paper, glue, and scissors.
Stephanie RDG3320
This book is truly one of the most clever, witty, funny, imaginative and educational I've ever read! This book would be best to read or to have students read from the 3rd-5th grades. It would be a great way to introduce new words into the student's writings and to their vocabulary in general. Personal writing's could evolve and develop so much by introducing the words in this book.
Mackenzie Rodeghier
This was an incredibly fun story that all readers can relate to! Embarrassing moments plague us all, but it's how we choose to deal with them that defines our character! Students will gain immense exposure to new vocabulary words, and parents and teachers can enjoy creative, humorous antics that flow within the text!
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, word-play
Sage is home sick and gets her vocabulary words from a friend over the phone. One word is misunderstood and turns her world upside. Will her mistake turn into gold?

Great story! I love how the illustrations are drawn with markers, as if Sage made them herself. Also, incorporating her vocabulary sentences into the borders of the pages is genius.

Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour, read-alouds
This is a funny story about a girl who misunderstands her vocabulary assignment. Readers will pick up on the fun of learning new words and the importance of checking the dictionary. I think we can all relate; most of us make similar mistakes as kids.

My 8yo laughed and laughed as I read this aloud and then immediately asked me to read it again. Recommended.
Elizabeth Meadows
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
What fun! It's rare to find good character development in a mostly-picture book for children, but the author does it beautifully. Add the alphabet game and vocabulary words and you've got a superb piece of work. Highly recommended.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
-love the idea of looking at a mistake differently and more positively
-like the fluidity of the definitions throughout the story
-Don't like the method of writing the word and the definition repeatedly in order to memorize/learn
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Debra Frasier is the author and illustrator of many award-winning picture books including On the Day You Were Born and Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster. In addition to her well-known talks on creative process, Debra’s innovative "Book Events" build a community’s creativity through projects that start with a story. Visit to see how a parade of words can make you laugh, how the ...more
More about Debra Frasier...