Welcome to Day #8 of the One Good Thing About AmericaTo celebrate the release of One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman (3/14/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Ruth and 10 chances to win a copy of One Good Thing About America, as well as a chance to win a Skype visit with Ruth in the Grand Prize Giveaway!
by Ruth Freeman
by Ruth Freeman
The other day I was apologizing to my students, once again, about Crazy English. Every now and then we will come across words that just don’t make sense. We were looking at multiplication arrays. First I was explaining the concept of “rows” when one student interrupted. “I thought that was a flower?” So, the conversation shifted to roses. Then we got back on track until, a few seconds later, when we got to “columns.” The students were labeling their arrays. I had written the word “column” for them on a whiteboard. They couldn’t believe there was an “n” at the end! “I know,” I said, “we don’t hear it, but it’s there.” I say that a lot. I love this diagram below of how English came to be. There are so many languages feeding into our modern English! I try to explain a bit of this to my students: how “ph” words come from Greek, so we can thank them for these two letters that really sound like “f.” And the crazy spelling of the number “eight.” Okay, I just looked it up. “Eight” comes from Old English and before that there is a Germanic origin. It’s related to Dutch and German words and they all come from an Indo-European root which is shared by the Latin and Greek words. Whew! As I said, Crazy English!
In my story, Anaïs is dealing with many kinds of language problems. Like “tricky vowels,” she says, that are always “changing like snakes.” Or her neighbor, Mr. Potter, who greets her with a “Whadzup?” and laughs when she looks up to see what he’s talking about. Then there’s another student talking about the Poison Girls Club. Anaïs thinks he is crazy until she finds out it is the Boys and Girls Club. “I wish Americans are speaking English better!” she says. When I see spelling or pronunciations that are strange, I am grateful I don’t have to learn English! I can’t imagine being new and trying to spell “sugar” as Anaïs tries to do, or “juice.” How about three words with similar spellings but completely different pronunciations: “cough,” “bough,” and “rough.” Or, look at the “n-o-w” letters in: “what do I know now?” Not to mention the crazy silent “k.” And we haven’t even gotten to idioms yet! Anaïs runs into “cutting” in line, but wait till she has to figure out “get a kick out of,” “I’m all ears,” “going bananas,” “a gray area” or “you’re nuts!” There are so many more idioms, but I’m going to “call it a day” and say, “time’s up!”
Stop by Middle Grade Mafioso tomorrow for the next stop on the tour!
Blog Tour Schedule:
April 10th – Geo Librarian April 11th – Late Bloomer's Book Blog April 12th – Mrs. Mommy BookNerd April 13th – Kristi's Book Nook April 14th – Life Naturally April 17th – Books My Kids Read April 18th – Chat with Vera April 19th – Word Spelunking April 20th – Middle Grade Mafioso April 21st – The Hiding Spot
ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA is a sweet, often funny middle-grade novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures. It's hard to start at a new school . . . especially if you're in a new country. Back home, Anaïs was the best English student in her class. Here in Crazy America she feels like she doesn't know English at all. Nothing makes sense (chicken FINGERS?), and the kids at school have some very strange ideas about Africa. Anaïs misses her family . . . so she writes lots of letters to Oma, her grandmother. She tells her she misses her and hopes the war is over soon. She tells her about Halloween, snow, mac 'n' cheese dinners, and princess sleepovers. She tells her about the weird things Crazy Americans do, and how she just might be turning into a Crazy American herself.
About the Author: Ruth Freeman grew up in rural Pennsylvania but now lives in Maine where she teaches students who are English language learners, including many newly arrived immigrants. She is the author of several acclaimed nonfiction picture books. One Good Thing About America is her first novel..
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