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THE WORD EATER
by Mary Amato
Christopher Ryniak, Illustrator

Paperback | 112 pages | 5 1/2 X 8 1/4 | US$ 7.99
ISBN: 9780823419401 | 03-01-2005

Also available as an ebook.

Grade: FOURTH | Age: 8 to 12

Themes: Fantasy, Humor, School, Language Arts, Acceptance & Belonging
Recommendations: A, C, K, SLJ, TE


About the Book
A new student hopes a magical worm will help her fit in or get revenge.

Lerner Chance is miserable at her new school, where the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) club lords it over the rest of her sixth-grade class, the SLUGs (SORRY LOSERS UNDER GROUND). Afraid that she is destined to be a SLUG, Lerner wishes that everything would simply disappear. But things like that never happen—or do they?

Lerner begins to discover that with extraordinary power comes extraordinary responsibility, but will she learn her lesson too late?

HONORS FOR THE WORD EATER

Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award

Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominee

Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee

Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Award Master List

New Mexico Land of Enchantment Book Award Master List

Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Reading List

Washington Sasquatch Reading Award Nominee

From the Mary Amato AUTHOR 360:

ASK THE AUTHOR—The Inside Scoop
Where did you get the idea for The Word Eater?

I read an article about tiny wormlike creatures that ruin books by eating the glue in the binding. (As you can imagine, librarians hate these “bookworms.”) I thought it was interesting and funny that something so small could have power, so I jotted down a note in my journal about these creatures. Many months later, I began to think about the idea. What if a worm liked ink instead of dirt or glue? What if the worm had a magical appetite? What if things disappeared from the world when the worm ate words? What if a girl found the worm and realized that she had the power to delete anything? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would make a great story.

PLOT AND THEME
Plot and theme are two important elements of every book. The plot is what happens. The theme is what the story is really all about.

The plot of The Word Eater is about a magic worm that eats words. The theme of The Word Eater is about the struggle for power and the consequences of having it.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
In the book, each character either has power or wants power. Get your brain in gear for these powerful questions.

*In the beginning, what about Lerner’s situation makes her feel particularly powerless?

*What cliqué at Cleveland Park Middle School has the most power? Why does it have power?

*Talk about the power teachers have over students in the book. What kind of power should teachers have? What kind of power should students have?

*If you have power, you can use it wisely or you can abuse it. Which characters abuse their power?

*How do Lerner and the SLUGS become powerful?

CLASS PROJECT
Start your own class newspaper. Interview one another and your teacher. Write stories and print them out on a computer.


About the Author
Mary Amato