Nelly May Has Her Say

Nelly May Has Her Say, written by Cynthia DeFelice and illustrated by Henry Cole, is a nominee for the 2014-2015 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Nelly May Has Her Say, a retelling of the English folktale “Master of All Masters,” is a delightful story that is sure to charm young readers who likely haven’t heard the original tale.

Nelly May has twelve brothers and sisters, and there’s never enough food to go around. One day, Nelly May decides she’s old enough to help out, so she gets a job as a cook and housekeeper at the mansion of Lord Ignasius Pinkwinkle.

Mr. Pinkwinkle, though, has some interesting demands. Along with her regular work, Nelly May must learn to call things by his special names. A bed is no longer a bed. It’s a restful slumberific. And his dog isn’t just a dog with a wagging tail. It’s a fur-faced fluffenbarker with a wigger-wagger.

Nelly May isn’t sure what to make of all these strange new words. They’re silly, weird, and take up an awful lot of time! But something’s about to happen that could just make Mr. Pinkwinkle (who insists on being called Most Excellent of All Masters) think twice about his words.

Readers who love ridiculous, made-up words will definitely find something to enjoy in Nelly May Has Her Say. Comparisons to the work of Dr. Seuss will abound, and students could have a lot of fun making up their own nonsense words for everyday objects.

Nelly May Has Her Say could also be used with older students in studies of vocabulary and word usage. Why use five words when one will do? This book certainly gets that point across!

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