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The Word Eater

The Word Eater

4.5 12
by Mary Amato, Christopher Ryniak (Illustrator)

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Life is miserable for sixth-grader Lerner Chanse at her new school, where the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) Club ruthlessly rules over the SLUGs (Sorry Losers Under Ground). Then Lerner accidentally discovers that her pet worm Fip eats paper - with startling results...When he eats a label with the words "Mack's Thumbtacks", all Mack's thumbtacks instantly vanish


Life is miserable for sixth-grader Lerner Chanse at her new school, where the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) Club ruthlessly rules over the SLUGs (Sorry Losers Under Ground). Then Lerner accidentally discovers that her pet worm Fip eats paper - with startling results...When he eats a label with the words "Mack's Thumbtacks", all Mack's thumbtacks instantly vanish and papers slip from bulletin boards everywhere! It seems that if Fip eats a word, that item simply disappears from the world - forever. Now that Lerner knows about Fip's magic, she has some extraordinary powers of her own - and some big decisions to make. Should she eliminate crime? Her mean neighbour Bobby Nitz's evil dog? Or simply wipe Cleveland Park Middle School off the face of the earth? Or will destroying anything cause effects that she can't imagine or predict? Lerner soon discovers that extraordinary power brings extraordinary responsibility - but will she learn her lesson in time?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel may hold some appeal for bookworms, but a multitude of subplots proves distracting and weakens the tension. There are two basic story lines. The first revolves around a newborn worm named Fip, whose appetite runs to words rather than dirt. The second centers on sixth-grader Lerner Chase, recently--and unhappily--transplanted from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. Lerner discovers Fip and realizes that every time he eats a word, the object it signifies disappears forever. The results of Fip's consumption can be pleasant (Fip eats a vending machine number and unleashes free chocolate bars) or dire (Fip eats the name of a newly charted star, sending its discoverer into a crisis). These developments occasion secondary story lines (e.g., about a sinister tycoon who employs thumb tacks and child labor to train the vicious dogs he sells as "Attackaterriers"). Amato plausibly sketches Lerner's evolving sense of responsibility about Fip's powers, including her panic when he almost eats the word "oxygen" and the name of her teacher Mr. Droan (but ends up devouring the words "Markus Droan's suit" instead.) The classroom dynamics between the ruling elite, Most Powerful Ones on Earth (MPOOEs), and the outcasts, Sorry Losers Under Ground (SLUGs), are believable enough, but with the exception of Lerner, most characters emerge as caricatures or types. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Lerner Chanse isn't happy at her new school. The sixth-grade is dominated by a select group known as the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) Club. Entrance into the group is invitation-only, dependent upon completion of a dare selected by the club's leader, Reba Silo. Anyone not in the club is a SLUG (Sorry Loser under Ground). Lerner doesn't particularly want to be a MPOOE, but she certainly doesn't want to be a SLUG. In the midst of deciding what to do, Lerner discovers Fip, a rather unusual worm. Fip doesn't eat dirt, and he doesn't eat paper. What he eats are words. When he eats them, things disappear forever. For example, when Fip munches his way through the words "spinach soufflé," all spinach soufflés disappear—forever. Batches can be mixed, and the mix can be put in the oven. However, when the pans are removed from the oven, they are empty. Fip's magical power seems to be the answer to Lerner's problem. What would happen if she fed him "MPOOE?" Mary Amato skillfully weaves together every tiny detail to create a jam-packed, satisfying story that is sure to hold readers' attention until the very last page. 2000, Holiday House, $15.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Heidi Green
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-The book opens with the turn of a page on the Bookworm's Desk Calendar, heralding the birth of a seemingly ordinary worm. But this is no common creature, for readers soon learn that he has a voracious appetite for the written word. It is sixth-grade Lerner Chanse who discovers that when Fip eats a word, that object disappears-forever. Lerner is having a hard time finding her place in her new school. She doesn't want any part of the MPOOE club (Most Powerful Ones on Earth), nor does she want to belong to the only other group-the SLUGS (Sorry Losers Under Ground). In a series of clever, if far-fetched events, she daringly uses Fip's power to turn the tide on the MPOOEs. Tongue-in-cheek wordplay in the quote on the desk calendar that opens each chapter prepares readers for the outlandish series of happenings to come.-Doris Gebel, Northport-East Northport Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An overstuffed tale that will nevertheless wriggle its way into readers' affections, starring an out-crowd sixth grader and a tiny, worm-like creature who can make anything vanish by eating the word for it. Hatchling Fip's taste for the printed word may be judged unacceptably "runtly and weakish" by his earthworm clan, but when he munches on an empty thumbtack box, loose papers suddenly avalanche from bulletin boards nationwide. Fip doesn't stop there; unhappily on her way to being dubbed a SLUG (Sorry Loser Under Ground) by the classroom coterie MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones On Earth), Lerner Chanse spots him sampling an article about a newly discovered star. Learning later that the star has vanished from the skies, she confirms her suspicion by nudging him onto the school lunch menu (no more spinach soufflé—anywhere, ever again). Has Lerner found the way to acceptance—or to universal disaster? Both, as it turns out, though ensuing misadventures ranging from the near-catastrophic—as when Fip nearly eats the word "oxygen" out of her science homework—to the hilarious teach her that her little buddy's ability is definitely nothing to trifle with. In the end, the universe is saved when a clever bookworm entices Fip to gobble down the words "Fip's magic." To drive home the point that actions can have unintended, far-reaching repercussions, Amato trucks in a sackful of side plots, including one wildly tangential tale involving a ruthless businessman who finally gets proper comeuppance for using thumbtacks, manufactured by captive children, to train attack dogs. Several stories bundled together, this amiablecautionarytale, often reminiscent of Clifton Fadiman's Wally the Wordworm or Mary Haynes's more melodramatic Wordchanger , makes a promising, if undisciplined, debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.49(d)
590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Amato is now known for her comic middle-grade novels. "The Word Eater" was Ms. Amato's first novel. She is also the author of "Snarf Attack", "Underfoodle, and the Secret of Life: The Riot Brothers Tell All", as well as "The Naked Mole-Rat Letters". Ms. Amato is a storyteller, poet, puppeteer, mask-maker, and quilt-maker, too. She makes her home just outside Washington, D.C.

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The Word Eater 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who wroght this book u are AMSOME!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read the sample and it was pretty good. It didnt grab my attention until like page 7. It was still good though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like this book this is one of my favorite book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read The Word Eater and I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Word Eater is about a girl who finds a worm called Fip and what is speacial about Fip is that he only likes to eat words on paper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it and couldnt wait to read what happened next in it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I thought it was so interesting of what a worm could do 2 the planet. Personally this book is better than the mystical Harry Potter because I dont care about a stupid wizard. Dont listen 2 those reviews because this book is great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply put, this is not that good a book. With so many wonderful books like Harry Potter, King Fortis the Brave and Holes out there that cater to the same age group, this one pales in comparison.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Word eater by some author, is a very different book. To me, i didn't really like it. You don't see to many reviews on it do u? Well, i am not a fan of fantasy, but if u r, then u would love it greatly. but as for me, you read it, i'll go pick up a historical fiction book. ok, c u l8er