Donavan's Word Jar

Donavan's Word Jar

4.6 3
by Monalisa DeGross, Cheryl Hanna

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Donavan is fascinated by words. They seem to leap out at him from books, signs, even the back of cereal boxes. He savors each word as he learns to say it and discovers its meaning. He keeps the words he collects on slips of paper in a big glass jar. But one day the jar is almost full and Donavan has a dilemma. How can he make room for new words without giving up


Donavan is fascinated by words. They seem to leap out at him from books, signs, even the back of cereal boxes. He savors each word as he learns to say it and discovers its meaning. He keeps the words he collects on slips of paper in a big glass jar. But one day the jar is almost full and Donavan has a dilemma. How can he make room for new words without giving up all the terrific words already in his jar? A visit to his grandmother provides the unexpected solution in this heartwarming story about how important words can be.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Dia L. Michels
Some kids collect coins, comic books, or baseball cards. Donavan Allen collects words. Whenever Donavan, an African American third-grader, finds a new word, he writes it down and puts it in his word jar. But Donavan has a problem - his word jar is full and he's still discovering new words. As his collection grows, he becomes careful and greedy of his words. Then, in a hurry one day, he leaves his collection unattended in the lobby of his grandmother's building. The senior-citizen residents have a grand old time enjoying his words and the laughter and conversation they bring. Donavan realizes that sharing his words can give as much joy and laughter to others as they do to him. This is a wonderful story of the power of words. Charming pencil illustrations express the warmth that words freely given freely bring. 1998, (orig.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Trophy Chapter Book Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.16(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt


DonavanAllen enjoyed being like all the other kids in Mrs. Panky's thirdgrade class. He liked wearing a yellow shirt with brown pants and a buttondown sweater, just like the other boys. When the bell rang at the end of the day, he grabbed his book bag and ran for the door, just like the other kids. And just like the other kids, on the days when his mom packed raw broccoli and cauliflower in his lunch, Donavan forgot to eat them.

Like most of the kids in his class, Donavan liked to collect things. A few kids in his class collected rocks, insects, or stamps. Some other kids collected coins, comics, or baseball cards. Donavan's best friend, Eric, collected marbles. Eric was always playing marbles, trading marbles, reading about marbles, and searching for the perfect marble. He kept his marble collection in a leather pouch with his name stamped on it.

Donavan's buddy, Pooh, collected buttons of all shapes and sizes. Pooh kept, his button collection pinned to a corkboard in his bedroom. He collected buttons from almost every event he attended. He had buttons from movies,baseball games, and amusement parks. Pooh's favorite button was the one hisfather had made for him for his birthday. On it was a picture of Pooh, andwritten around it were the words "Pooh for President." Pooh kept that button pinned to his book bag.

But when it came to collecting things, Donavan Allen was different. He 'had a collection like no one else he knew. Donavan collected words. Yes, words.

Donovan's Discovery

It all began one morning at the breakfast table. Donavan was staring at the back of acereal box when, he noticedthe word NUTRITION.

Nuuu-tri-tion," he said slowly. And then he said it again. "Nuuuu-trrition." He like'd the way the word slid down his tongue and rolled off his lips. This was a word he had never noticed before, and the word made him smile.

"Mom," Donavan said, watching his mother pack his lunch. "Do you like the word nuu-tri-tion?"

"I don't know, I never thought about it before," she answered, dropping a packet of raisins into his lunch bag.

"Me neither, but guess what? I am going to start paying extra attention to words from now on. I bet there are trillions of words out there, words I've never, noticed."

On his way to school that morning, Donavan discovered the word BALLYHOO blazing across a billboard.

"Wow! Was that there all the time?" he asked himself And that same afternoon, he noticed the word BOUTIQUE written on the window of his mother's favorite shop.

"Gee, new words are everywhere," Donavan said. "Maybe I should start writing them, down. I don't want to forget any of them."

That evening, while he was digging around in his father's tool chest, Donavan saw the word PINCERS written on a wooden handle. He pulled a strange looking tool from the chest. It looked like a crab claw, and he laughed.

"This tool looks just, like its name," Donavan said. "I wonder what it is used for. P-I-N-C-E-R-S. " he spelled the word aloud to himself several times so that he would not forget how to spell it. Donavan went up the stairs and into his room, pulled his big dictionary from the shelf, and looked for the word PINCERS. "It does look just like a giant crab claw," Donavan said aloud as he looked at the page. "And just like a claw it can be used to grip things. This is great! From now on I am going to write my words down and keep them."

And so, Donavan began to collect words. He wrote his words in purple ink on yellow -slips of paper. At the end of each day, he put the slips in a large, round glass jar. One day while Donavan was sitting at his desk putting words into his jar, he saw- his little sister,, Nikki, peeping around the door. He pretended not to notice her and kept writing down his words.

"What are you doing that for?" Nikki asked, leaning over his shoulder.

"Doing what?" was all he answered, and he kept on writing.

"Why are you putting those pieces of paper into that jar?"

"Because I collect words," Donavan said.


"Because l like the way they sound, and I want to keep them."

"Can I put one in?" Nikki asked, reaching over to pick up a slip of paper.

"No, Nikki. This is my collection, and it is private property. I don't want you messing with it." Donavan's voice was firm.

"Okay, Mister Meanie," Nikki said, leaving the room. "You'd better hurry, it's almost time for dinner." Donavan decided that he would keep his word jar high up on the shelf in his room. He didn't want Nikki snooping around his jar. She might break it or, even worse, take some of his words.

All kinds of words went into Donavan'scollection. He had big words like PROFOUND that made him feel smart. Little words like CUDDLE warmed his heart. Donavan found that soft words like HUSH soothed his fears. Silly words like SQUABBLE slipped off his tongue and tickled his ears. From somewhere he collected HIEROGLYPHIC, a strange word that made him wonder. And just for fun, he added strong words like WARRIOR, words that rang in his ears like thunder. Donavan put mysterious-sounding words like EXTRATERRESTRIAL into his collection. And there were musical-sounding words like ORCHESTRAL.

Collecting words was fun-they were everywhere! One sunny Sunday afternoon. Donavan found the word SOLIDARITY marching in a parade. He smiled at the men in their bright-green uniforms and wrote the word down. Later that same afternoon the word ZEPPELIN floated high in the sky, written on a silver balloon.

Meet the Author

Monalisa DeGross wrote Donavan's Word Jar and Granddaddy's Street Songs. She works at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore as Project Manager of the Family Reading Circle, where she meets and observes children of all ages. Ms. DeGross lives in Baltimore, Maryland, near her children, Donavan and Nikki, and her grandchildren, Shaundrea, Annalisa, and August. In addition to her work as an author, she is also a locally celebrated playwright.

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Donavan's Word Jar 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned so many new words! My favorite character is Donavan because he collects something that other people don't collect.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is named after Donavan.The setting is at home or school. The characters are Donavan, Mrs. Panky, Donavan¿s mother, and Donavan¿s father. Donavan likes the sounds words make so he wants to keep them. Donavan¿s problem is that his word jar is filled up. I would give this book 4 stars. I like the part when the people took his words because it was kind of funny. Tim 3rd grade