cover image Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter

Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter

Cari Best, illus. by Giselle Potter. FSG/Ferguson, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-39904-7

With their customary novelistic depth and nuance, Best and Potter, the team behind Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! and other titles, tell the story of a girl named Beatrice whose initially rocky relationship with spelling (she spells her name ABCTERIE) turns into a full-fledged romance. Although Beatrice’s family doesn’t share her interest in spelling (“Leo had his ant farm, June had gymnastics, and her parents had their music”), she discovers a fellow word lover in her grandmother (“Life without spelling would be A-W-F-U-L,” Nanny Hannah declares), who gives Beatrice her first dictionary, introduces her to Scrabble, and offers up no less than Thomas Jefferson (“a crackerjack speller”) as a role model. Thus inspired, Beatrice overcomes her classmates’ skepticism (“Spelling makes me yawn,” a boy informs her), and transforms them into a spelling SWAT team who go “all over town looking for good words to spell—and for people’s mistakes.” Potter’s flattened, folk art–like perspectives, mannerist poses, and overall originality continue to be a terrific match for Best’s special brand of storytelling, with its lovely sense of restraint and striking emotional richness. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)