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Word Quest 1

Why is there an "o" in "love"?

Think spelling doesn't make sense? Let's investigate using the 4 questions of Structured Word Inquiry (Bowers & Kirby, 2010)!

Why is there an "O" in "love"?

Word Quest 1

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Author: Lynn Becker

Illustrations: Scott Brundage

Publisher & Year: Sleeping Bear Press

Intended Age: 4-7 years of age

Topic/Themes: Poetry, Humor, Cause & Effect

Opening Lines: “What do you do with a grumpy kraken?

                                   Crabby, cranky, crusty kraken?”

Synopsis: MONSTERS IN THE BRINY is a delight! What DO you do when you’re a crew member faced with a grumpy kraken, a scruffy sea goat, a sickly serpent, and other needy sea creatures? You find a way to provide comfort until you’re faced with a hard-to-control ship in the middle of the ocean and you KEEP SINGING, that’s what you do! This book will keep you and your children and students humming the tune and clamoring for rereads.

What I like about this book:Jilanne Hoffman’s engaging review and  Maria Marshall’s enticing review inspired me to purchase this book. From Scott Brundage’s expressive and light-hearted, illustrations to the captivating rhymes that perfectly match the rhythm, there is much to admire about this book. In Beth Anderson’s interview with the author, Lynn Becker, she shares how she perfected her rhymes by walking as she sang the words (an incredible tip for all poetry writers).

MONSTERS IN THE BRINY is a perfect read aloud for any situation! Caregivers, Teachers, Librarians, School Psychologists, you’ll want this book on your shelves! Talk about how the entire crew works together to solve problems and cause/effect.


Writing/Physical Education: After reading this book, research and write sea shanties for a classroom job or for a topic you’re studying in the classroom. Use this book and book trailer as mentor texts and/or check out this guide.

With rough drafts in hand, take the class walking as they chant and see if they need to revise rhymes.

After Reading: Assign students or groups of students individual pages and have them perform a Readers Theater of this book.

Art: Using Scott Brundage’s illustrations as a mentor text, have students create shanty illustrations.Have students highlight rhyming words and the last line of a stanza with a unifying font and color.

Book Celebration: Give everyone bandanas to wear and props. Invite families to listen to the book and view the artwork and student-written sea shanty performances. Invite all participants to sit in a half-circle on a mock ship and clap in time to the rhythm of the sea shanties while individuals or groups perform on a plank of wood.

Author Website: https://lynnbeckerbooks.meteorapp.com

Illustrator Website: http://www.scottbrundage.com

This teacher’s guide is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Thanks for stopping by! Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.

Reflections on this Book/Word Study:

 I thought a Word Quest might be the perfect way to deepen student understanding of the word “shanty.”

Start a Word Quest with a question:

Why is “shanty” spelled that way?

Spelling variations: shanty, chanty, chantey


After investigating the word, “shanty” was most likely derived from the French chanter meaning “sing.”. My hypothesis is that the spelling changed to “sh” from “ch” to reflect pronunciation.

Investigating “chanty,” I discovered another interesting word in the morphological family (a word that shares the same base and meaning): “chanticleer.” A chanticleer is a rooster from medieval tales and the word “chanticleer” literally means “sing-clear.”

Another fascinating morphological connection is between “chant” and “enchantment.” I was enchanted by MONSTERS IN THE BRINY and like the Latin incantare “to enchant, fix a spell upon,” (etymonline.com), this rollicking shanty has cast a spell on me!

An important part of a Word Quest is to share what you learn with others, so please share this book or post with your friends or colleagues.

Thanks so much for stopping by! What book is enchanting you this week?


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Author & Reading Specialist


Wondering how your child or student can be more successful and joyous as a reader and writer? I have 25 years experience as a reading specialist and am happy to share my expertise and love of books with you. Look for my spelling-themed picture book, Stanley and the Wild Words, in November 2022!

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