School Days Spell-ing Shootout: A Very Witchy Spelling Bee by George Shannon
EVEN WHEN SHE PLAYED, CORDELIA PLAYED BY MIXING HER SPELLING WITH SPELLS.
WITH THE ZAP OF AN O, HER CAT, C-A-T, TURNED INTO A COAT, C-O-A-T.
THEN BACK TO A CAT.
THE ZAP OF A K TURNED THE VERY SAME CAT INTO A T-A-C-K.
So when the Witches' Double Spelling Bee rolls around, Cordelia just knows she ready to take on two-hundred-and-three-year-old Beulah Divine, gunning for her fourteenth win.
"I'VE STUDIED. I'VE PRACTICED.
I'M READY TO WIN.
Both Cordelia and Beulah have lots of confidence to take to the competition, despite the challenging rules:
1. Pull a letter out of the bowl.
2. Choose something orange from the table and spell it.
3. Using the letter you picked, cast a spell that transforms it into something new.
4. Spell the new word.
This wizardly bee is rigorous, and one by one the other contestants go down, until only Cordelia and the venerable Beulah, dressed in intimidating orange, remain. Beulah shows no mercy as she draws a P and turns Cordelia's ears into P-E-A-R-S. Without missing a beat, Cordelia comes back strong when she draws a W and turns the ear of corn on the table into a C-R-0-W-N, which she clearly plans on wearing at the end of the contest.
Beulah bounces back by changing a chair into Cordelia's H-A-I-R. Cordelia's mother is incensed!
"SHE'S A JEALOUS OLD FIEND!" SHE SCREAMED.The Bee is down to a spelling shootout. Cordelia draws an R, and a glance at the things left on the stage--a hankie, a bowl of slugs, and a sweater--tells Cordelia that she's got to come up with some creative spelling to win the final round.
I STUDIED. I PRACTICED. I 'M READY TO WIN," CORDELIA SAID WITH A STARE INTO BEULAH'S SMALL EYES.
With her hair-chair at a jaunty angle, Cordelia brandishes her R, points a finger at Beulah, and casts the winning spell:
BEULAH WAS NO LONGER A F-I-E-N-D.
She was a ...
Little listeners will likely intuit Cordelia's final spell and start giggling even before that last page turn, and even Beulah is surprised to find herself smiling and hugging her new-found F-R-I-E-N-D as Cordelia proudly takes her trophy. George Shannon's clever little conflict resolution tale, A Very Witchy Spelling Bee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) features delightful page design that sets off Mark Fearing's deliciously juicy comic illustrations as the suspense rises. This witch tale has something for everyone, with intriguing wordplay, a pitch for spelling prowess, and a premise that turns a bully into a friend through the magic of quick thinking. A good one for back-to-school, Halloween reading, or spelling bee time, everybody will cheer for the little witch with the right stuff to out-SPELL a fiend of a rival.
School Library Journal spells out the virtues of this book, saying, "... a downright fun language game. . . Classroom spelling bees will never be the same once young readers get their hands on this title."