Where Did You Get the Idea?
I read an article about tiny worm-like creatures that ruin books by eating the glue in the binding. (As you can imagine, librarians hate these “bookworms.”) I thought it was interesting and funny that something so small could have power; so I jotted down a note in my journal about these creatures.
Many months later, I began to think about the idea. What if a worm liked ink instead of dirt or glue? What if the worm had a magical appetite? What if things disappeared from the world when the worm ate words? What if a girl found the worm and realized that she had the power to delete anything? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would make a great story.
Plot and Theme
Plot and theme are two important elements of every book. The plot is what happens. The theme is what the story is really all about.
The plot of the The Word Eater is about a magic worm that eats words. The theme of The Word Eater is about the struggle for power and the consequences of having it.
In the book, each character either has power or wants power. Get your brain in gear for these powerful questions.
- In the beginning, what about Lerner’s situation makes her feel particularly powerless?
- What clique at Cleveland Park Middle School has the most power? Why do they have power?
- Talk about the power teachers have over students in the book. What kind of power should teachers have? What kind of power should students have?
- If you have power, you can use it wisely or you can abuse it. Which characters abuse their power?
- How do Lerner and the SLUGS become powerful?
Make a list of the words you’d feed to Fip. Then, imagine what would happen. Make a chart like Lerner did, listing the ethical consequences.
Start your own class newspaper. Interview each other and your teacher. Write stories and print them out on a computer.
Other Books about Language and Power:
Check out these other great books about the power of words!
- Frindle by Andrew Clements
- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
- The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
On the very last page of The Word Eater, a psychic in an advertisement says: “Something is going to happen on September 1 st.”
What do you think is going to happen on September 1 st? Hint: It has to do with Lerner’s pocket calendar and her first experiment with Fip.