Home for the Holidays!

Wordsworth has gone home for the Holidays.
Like children all over the world he is busy with holiday 
activities, helping Princess Ro decorate the castle and 
making all their favorite holiday treats.

He will return in January so stay tuned for Chapter 6 of 
Wordsworth and the Dragon!

Best Wishes to All of You
at this Wonderful
Time of Year!

Scotti and Christina

Discussion Questions - Chapter 5

copyright Christina Wald


then talk about these questions with your friends!

(1) What does Wordsworth learn from Dash about humans and dragons. Have you ever been very certain about something, and then found out you were wrong? What happened?

(2) What does Wordsworth know about the muddletongues? What does he learn about them from Dash?

(3) Do you think that Wordsworth can trust Dash? Why or why not?

Chapter 5: Dashburn Drak the Fifth

by Scotti Cohn
Copyright Scotti Cohn

copyright Christina Wald


Chapter 5
Dashburn Drak the Fifth
Suddenly, Klause came out of his trance. "Wheeeeaaaaa!" he screamed. He bit down on the dragon's paw. Chomp!
     The dragon pulled back. "Ow!" he yelled.
     Startled, Wordsworth didn't know what to do next. He stayed close to Klause as the two of them crept closer to the cave opening. The dragon was hopping back and forth from left foot to right, cradling one paw against his enormous green-scaled chest.
     "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Preliminary sketch of Dash / copyright Christina Wald
     Wordsworth could hardly believe his eyes. When the huge reptile swung his head toward the cave, Wordsworth clutched Klause's bristly mane. He would drag the cavabok to safety if necessary! But the dragon's eyes didn't look mean or angry. His expression reminded Wordsworth of the way Princess Rho's dog looked when she scolded him.
     "Somebody bit me!" the dragon said. He had a sort of scratchy voice, nothing like the huge roar he had made earlier.
     "Not me," Wordsworth answered.
     "Me," said Klause.
     "It hurts," said the dragon. He hung his head and sat down in the dirt. In that position, his stomach pooched out in a way that was almost comical. "I was not going to hurt you," he said. "I just wanted to look at you." He gazed at his injured paw. "But you bit me."
     Wordsworth had not known dragons could talk. Maybe someone taught it, he thought, like Phrasia taught Klause.
     As Klause stepped slowly out of the cave, Wordsworth followed, still holding his sword at the ready. The dragon didn’t seem quite as large as he had before and certainly not as fierce.
     "Let me see," Wordsworth said.
     The dragon held out his paw.
     "It's doesn't look too bad," Wordsworth told him. "Wait a minute." He shrugged out of his knapsack and removed the little jar of healing ointment Phrasia had given him. "Here, this should help."
     "Ow," said the dragon as Wordsworth dabbed a bit of the salve on his wound.
     Suddenly Wordsworth remembered why he had been searching for the dragon in the first place. He made himself as tall as he could and tried to speak in a commanding tone. "What is your name, dragon?"
     "My name is Dashburn Drak the Fifth," said the beast. "But I am also known as Dash."
    That wasn't what Wordsworth had expected. For a moment he was speechless, but only for a moment. "Dash," he said firmly, "I demand that you return the third letter of the alphabet to the Kingdom of Atoz immediately or I... or we... or Klause will bite you again! Or stab you with his horns!"
     Klause snorted. Dash blinked his yellow-gold eyes and yawned. Wordsworth took a few steps backward at the sight of his teeth.
     "I didn't steal your letter," said Dash. "Why would I?"
     Wordsworth thought for few seconds. "You're a dragon."
     "Sorry to disappoint you, but I do not steal things."
     Wordsworth's spirits sank. He had been so certain.
     "However," said Dash, studying his wounded paw. "As it turns out, I know who stole the letter."
     "You do?"
     Dash nodded. He lifted his wings and flapped them slowly, creating a stiff breeze.
     "Who? Tell me! Tell me!" Wordsworth exclaimed, jumping up and down.
     "I won't name names," Dash said. "But his initials are M-U-D-D-L-E-T-O-N-G-U-E."
     Wordsworth stopped jumping. "Huh?" he said. "Say that again, please."
     "Those aren't initials," said Wordsworth. "That spells muddletongue! Are you saying a muddletongue took the letter?"
     "Y-E-S," said the dragon.
     Wordsworth didn't know much about muddletongues except that they were mean and wild and lived on the other side of the Forest of Spells. He didn't know if they were people or animals, but King Omicron always said it was best to leave them alone.
     "But how would a muddletongue get up to the tower window, and how would it lift the letter when it's so heavy?"
     Dash fanned his wings again, blowing Wordsworth's hair straight back. "Some of them fly," the dragon said. "And they are extremely strong. I have seen them looking in the tower windows many times, in the middle of the night."
     "Oh!" said Wordsworth. He wondered if King Omicron knew that muddletongues were visiting the castle. "But why would they take a letter from the Royal Alphabet?"
     The dragon stopped waving his wings. Wordsworth's hair fell forward into his face.
     "I think they have a new queen. They've been shouting and leaping around that huge fire of theirs for days. I think the muddletongue who stole your letter may have given it to the queen as a gift."
     "Kind of a strange gift, isn't it?" said Wordsworth.
     "Not really," said Dash. "Muddletongues aren't all that smart, but they know that something kept hidden away in a tower must be important and valuable. They may not know why, but they know it just the same."
     "I see. So they wanted something important and valuable to give the queen," said Wordsworth. He looked long and hard at the dragon. "You had better be telling the truth," he said. "Or--"
     "I know, I know, or Klause will bite me again," said Dash.
     Klause snorted. Wordsworth knew Dash wasn't afraid of the cavabok. The dragon could easily be lying, but Wordsworth couldn't do anything about it in any case.
     "How did you learn to talk?" he asked.
     "My mother taught me," said Dash. "Her father taught her, and his grandmother taught him."
     "But how did it begin?"
     "I believe your King Alpha taught a dragon to talk bak when humans and dragons were friendly toward one another," said Dash.
     Wordsworth was surprised. How could dragons and humans be friends? He had never heard of such a thing.
     "The king says dragons made a lot of trouble in the days of Queen Gamma," he said. "They destroyed houses and stole sheep. Sometimes they even killed people."
     "Yes, I'm afraid that's true," said Dash. "I don't know who started the fighting, but the people of Atoz were at war with dragons for many long years. My grandmother was killed by a knight. Now I am the only dragon left."
     Wordsworth couldn't help feeling a little sorry for him. He thought he saw a tear in one of Dash's yellow-gold eyes, but the dragon blinked, and it was gone.
     "I have a favor to ask of you," Dash said then.
     Wordsworth still wasn't ready to trust him. "What?" he asked suspiciously.

Discussion Questions - Chapter 4

copyright Christina Wald

 First read

then talk about these questions with your friends!

(1) Were you surprised when Klause spoke to Wordsworth?

(2) In the Forest of Spells, Wordsworth has doubts about whether he can fight -- or even find -- a dragon. Have you ever started to do something and then realized you really don't know what to do or how to do it? What happened?

(3) How does Wordsworth feel when he sees the dragon reaching for Klause? Why?

(4) Why do you think Klause stood at the mouth of the cave instead of running from the dragon?

(5) What do you think will happen next?

Chapter 4: Finding the Dragon

by Scotti Cohn
Copyright Scotti Cohn

copyright Christina Wald


Chapter 4
Finding the Dragon

Riding along through the Forest of Spells, Wordsworth scarcely knew when day ended and night began. Tree branches hid most of the sky, and he could see neither sun nor moon. He heard an owl call: Hoot-hoot-hoo! Rustling noises came from the bushes—maybe a fox or a rabbit. Or a dragon? Wordsworth tried to push that thought out of his mind.

Klause's big ears flicked back and forth at each sound. Sometimes he bobbed his head up and down. Wordsworth lit one of the candles Phrasia had given him. Why did I tell her I knew how to fight dragons? he asked himself. As they climbed into the hills, the narrow path grew steeper and rockier, but the sure-footed, sturdy-legged cavabok put each hoof in place with confidence. In the middle of a small clearing, he stopped. Wordsworth saw the opening of a cave nearby.

"We'll stay here tonight," he said.

Klause bobbed his head. Wordsworth slid off the cavabok's back, being very careful not to drop his candle. After peering into the cave and listening for a minute, he decided it was safe to go in. The bread and cheese Phrasia had packed for him tasted good. He washed it down with water from the flask.

Covering himself with the blanket from Klause's back, Wordsworth lay down on the hard ground. It took him a long time to fall asleep, but once he did, he dreamed of poor Lord Reading waving his book in the air and crying, "A terrible rime has been ommitted!" Lines from Lord Reading's poem danced a crazy jig in Wordsworth's head: "...harming lass...herry tree...hirping rikets..."

The next thing he knew, he was squirming and thrashing, trying to get away. Something cold and wet was pressing against his neck. He felt hot air blowing into his ear.

"Hey!" yelled Wordsworth. His eyes popped open. All he could see was a very large, very close face—the brown-and-gray-speckled face of a cavabok. Wordsworth rolled away and sat up. "Did you have to do that?"

"Up," Klause said in a deep voice. His huge dark eyes gazed steadily at Wordsworth.

Wordsworth jumped to his feet. "How did you learn to talk?"

Klause's ears twitched. "Phrasia."

"Phrasia taught you? Wow! So what can you say?"

"Few words," Klause said.

"But do you understand what people say? Do you know what I'm saying?"

"Yes, most."

"Wow!" Wordsworth said again. "Well...okay...I think I'm going to eat something before we go."

Wordsworth ate more of the bread and cheese in his knapsack. Klause munched on grass at the edge of the clearing. Wordsworth couldn't help staring at him. It was hard to believe that an animal could talk. Even Starfire, the king's favorite horse, couldn't do that! After a long drink of water from his flask, Wordsworth climbed onto Klause's back.

"Let's go," he said. "We’ve got to find that dragon!"

There were two paths leading away from the clearing. Wordsworth had no idea which one to take. Before he could decide, Klause ambled down the path on the right as if he knew exactly where to go. Wordsworth didn't have any reason to argue with him.

As they plodded along, Wordsworth noticed that the trees weren't quite as dense as they had been before. Here and there a ray of sunshine cut through the gloom. But the Forest of Spells still wasn't a cheerful place. Birds twittered in a hushed sort of way, as if they were afraid to make too much noise.

Wordsworth knew he should be looking for signs of a dragon, but he had no idea what those signs would be. Bones scattered outside a cave? A terrible smell? Leaves with their edges burnt off? When they came to another clearing, Klause stopped. Wordsworth decided he had better explain himself.

"I'm a dragon fighter," he told the cavabok. "Not a dragon hunter. I don't really know where to look for a dragon."

Klause ambled across the clearing to a large bush, took a big bite of leaves, and tore them off the branch with a jerk of his neck.

"Not worry," the cavabok said when he had finished chewing. "Dragon finds you."

"What do you mean?" asked Wordsworth.

Before Klause could answer, a strong, cold wind began to blow. The birds stopped chirping. Wordsworth shivered. Leaves flew off the trees and swirled around his head. Klause looked around nervously. Thunder boomed and echoed through the hills. Overhead, branches cracked and broke with a loud snap!

Without warning, Klause galloped toward him. "Get on!" he ordered in his deep voice. Grabbing the cavabok's stubby mane, Wordsworth flung himself onto his back. Klause dashed into a cave just in time. Something heavy landed in the clearing where they had been standing. WOOMPH!

Wordsworth gasped. His mouth went dry. The falling object had bright green scales. It had wings. It had big spikes coming out of its head and huge, pointed teeth. Wordsworth remembered the pictures he had drawn of dragons. None of them looked as fierce as this one. He slid quietly off Klause's back. He raised his wooden sword, then realized how useless it would be against the dragon. Why hadn't he thought of that before?

The dragon sniffed the air and scratched in the dirt with long, sharp claws. Then it opened its mouth and let out a roar that shook the Forest of Spells right down to its roots. Wordsworth cried out in terror.

As the sound of the dragon's howl began to fade away, Wordsworth heard his own voice still yelling. He clamped his hand over his mouth and backed further into the cave, but it was too late. The dragon cocked its head and swung its long, serpent neck toward the opening. Its glittery yellow-gold eyes narrowed to slits.

Wordsworth scampered even farther into the cave. When he looked back at the opening, he felt like his heart was falling into the pit of his stomach. Klause stood perfectly still, as if frozen with fear. Wordsworth remembered what Phrasia had said: I'm not worried. I know you won't let anything hurt him.

The dragon reached into the cave, curving its huge talons around the cavabok's body.

"Noooo!" shouted Wordsworth. He charged forward, waving his sword. "Let go!" he shouted. He chopped at the dragon's fingers. The sword bounced off the tough skin, but Wordsworth kept hacking. "Let. Go. Of. Him!"

Discussion Questions - Chapter 3

By now, you surely have read Chapter 3! No? Well, then, just click on the link below:

copyright Christina Wald

Once you have read Chapter 3, take a look at these questions and think about how you would answer them:

(1) How does Wordsworth feel when he sees the problems the missing letter has caused in the town?

(2) What has Wordsworth heard about the Forest of Spells?

(3) What does Phrasia give Wordsworth to ride?

(4) What is Wordsworth beginning to realize about the task he has offered to do?

(5) What do you think is the worst thing about not having the letter C?

Chapter 3 - The Forest of Spells

by Scotti Cohn
Copyright Scotti Cohn

copyright Christina Wald


Chapter 3
The Forest of Spells
 As Wordsworth walked through the village with Phrasia, he saw what a mess the thief had caused. A sign in the bakery window offered "akes" and "fresh baked pie rust." A notice outside the tailor's shop advertised "apes and oats -- made to order."

Outside the meeting hall a noisy crowd had gathered. One of the village elders stood on the front steps, motioning for people to quiet down. "My fellow Atozians!" he shouted. "I assure you that we are doing our best to apture the riminal who ommitted this unspeakable rime!"

The confusion and worried looks on the townspeople's faces made Wordsworth even more determined to find the letter and return it to the royal treasury. Phrasia led him past houses and shops, across a field and over a stream. Finally they reached her cottage at the edge of the Forest of Spells. 

The woods looked deep and dark. Wordsworth had never met anyone who had dared to enter the Forest of Spells. However, he had heard plenty of stories about people who went in and disappeared forever. Princess Rho had told him the forest got its name because a wizard had used magic spells to create it way back in the days of King Zeta.

"The traks always go that way," Phrasia said, pointing into the woods. There are lots of aves farther up in the hills, you know. Plenty of them are big enough to hold a dragon."

Wordsworth stared at a narrow path that led through the tall, thick trees and tangled brush. Suddenly he felt very small and not terribly brave. He felt Phrasia looking at him and turned toward her.

"I am glad to see you doing so well, Wordsworth," she said. "Your parents must be proud of you."

Wordsworth's mother and father lived on a farm many miles from the castle. He didn't see them often. He missed them, but he tried not to think about that too much. The king kept him busy, and the royal family treated him well.

"My parents are pleased that I am serving the king," he said.

"I'm sure they are," Phrasia said. "Now, as you are a knight, you will need a beast to ride upon."

"Well, I'm not quite a knight yet," Wordsworth said, "and I don't have a horse, so I guess I won't be able to--"

"I have something for you to ride," Phrasia said. "Although it is not as grand as you might wish."

She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. To Wordsworth's surprise, a cavabok trotted around the corner of the cottage. Wordsworth had seen wild cavaboks a few times. He knew there weren't many in the kingdom.

"His name is Klause," Phrasia said.

Wordsworth approached carefully to get a closer look. Klause was about the size of a pony. His head looked a bit like a horse's head, except his ears were larger and farther apart. Between his ears were two short, spiraled horns. His coat was rough and speckled brown and gray.

preliminary sketch copyright Christina Wald
"Are you sure you want to send him with me?" Wordsworth said. He had hoped Phrasia would tell him to go back home when he said he didn't have a horse. "Fighting dragons is dangerous. Klause might get hurt."

"I'm not worried. I know you won't let anything harm him. Now wait a minute while I pak some things for you to take along."

Phrasia put bread, cheese, a flask of water, candles, and matches in a knapsack. Last of all, she added a small white jar. "This is healing ointment," she said. "It's good for stings or bites or any kind of injury."

Wordsworth didn't think ointment would help him if a dragon attacked him. Maybe I should go bak to the astle and get one of the knights, he thought. But he knew that wouldn't work. The knights would laugh at him if he said he wanted to hunt for a dragon.

Phrasia helped Wordsworth slip his arms into the straps of the knapsack. She placed a folded blanket over Klause's back and helped Wordsworth climb aboard. Wordsworth was not at all sure he should be doing this. Still, Phrasia seemed to have faith in him, and he was determined not to let the dragon get away with stealing part of the Royal Alphabet.

I'll turn around and get out if I have to, he told himself. But I must try. Knights are always brave in times of danger. 

Klause snorted and flipped his bushy tail back and forth. Then he made a sound that Wordsworth could only describe as something between a horse neighing and a goat bleating:


Wordsworth nudged the cavabok's sides with his heels, waved good-bye to Phrasia, and rode into the forest. In one hand he clutched his wooden sword, in the other, Klause's short, bristly mane.

* * * *

Back in the village, chaos reigned. A man who wanted his wife to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies requested instead a "bath of hoolate hip ookies." At the courthouse, a judge ordered a witness to "state the fats."

By the end of the day Sir Clooney and the knights were no closer to finding the thief. King Omicron had begun to wonder what he would do if the third letter of the alphabet could not be recovered. All the books and laws and signs would have to be rewritten. It would take forever to change them all!

"We fear a guard may be involved," Sir Clooney told him. "One of them seems to have disappeared."

"What?" gasped the king. "What a terrible sandal to befall our kingdom! It is unthinkable! Who is this guard?"

"A man named Rottenbeer. .. er... well, no, that isn't exactly his name... You see, his name begins with..."

The king groaned.

Sir Clooney sighed. "Anyway," he continued, "I hope we are wrong about that, Your Majesty. We will keep looking."

"See that you do!" the king said. "And speaking of missing people, have you seen my page, Wordsworth?"

"Not lately," Sir Clooney replied.

Discussion Questions - Chapter 2

If you haven't read Chapter 2 yet, do take a moment. Just click on the link below:

copyright Christina Wald

Now, here are some questions you can discuss with your friends!

(1) How was the Royal Alphabet created?

(2) Why did Wordsworth feel like laughing when the librarian read poetry from his book? What made Wordsworth stop laughing?

(3) What happens if you take a short poem that you like and write it without the letter C? Is it easy to do? Hard to do? Can you still read it?

(4) Why does Wordsworth think a dragon took the letter C?

(5) All through this book you will find names of people and places that are based on words that relate to the use of language, grammar, and so forth. Do you see any of those kinds of names in this chapter? What are they?

Chapter Two: A Terrible Crime

by Scotti Cohn
Copyright Scotti Cohn

copyright Christina Wald


Chapter 2
A Terrible Crime
Princess Rho stepped down from her throne. If Wordsworth hadn't known she was a princess, he would never had guessed it. She didn't wear a crown. She hated dressing up in fancy clothes with ribbons and jewels. Most of the time she wore a plain blouse and skirt, with her long hair in a simple braid down her back.

preliminary sketch of Princess Rho / copyright 2012 Christina Wald

"Something strange is going on," Wordsworth said. "Nobody is able to say the letter, by itself or as part of any word."
"The Royal Alphabet is mysterious," said Princess Rho. "Remember how it was made?"
Wordsworth nodded. He had heard the story many times. In the beginning, the people of Atoz had not talked to each other with words. They had growled and grunted like animals. Then one night, their king had a dream in which he saw 26 different shapes floating in the air. When he woke up, he began to carve the shapes out of huge blocks of wood. He made each carving as high as his waist and as wide as his shoulders.
After the king had finished several carvings, he noticed something odd: People were making sounds they had not made before. Not only that, they were putting the sounds together to make words. By the time the king was done with all 26 shapes, the people were speaking and writing in sentences. Everyone agreed that the Royal Alphabet was magic, and that it must be locked up and guarded at all times.
"Too bad you don't know how to fly like those birds you're always drawing," said Wordsworth. "From up in the sky you would be able to see more than we see down here."
Princess Rho smiled. "Yes, it's too bad, isn't it?"
"We've got to find the thief and make him return the letter!" declared Wordsworth. "I'm going to get my sword!"
"And I'm going to go find Mama and let her know what's going on," said Princess Rho. "She was taking a bath when the bells started ringing."
The entire palace was in an uproar. Lords and ladies scurried along the corridors as the great iron bells in the tower clanged. Wordsworth ran up the winding stairs to his room and grabbed his wooden practice sword. Out the window he saw knights on prancing warhorses gallop into the courtyard. In his hurry to join them, he crashed into the castle librarian, Lord Reading.
"A terrible rime has been ommitted!" the librarian wailed, waving a large book in the air. "Look at this poem!" He opened the book and turned it so Wordsworth could see.
Wordsworth didn't want to be rude, so he read the verse quickly to himself.
O let us walk beside the reek
My harming lass with rosy heek.
We'll sit beneath a herry tree
And feast on rakers, plums, and tea.
Most of it made sense to Wordsworth, but some of it didn't. He knew the last word in the first line should be creekHarming was supposed to be charming. Lord Reading turned the book back toward himself and read the next verse out loud:
"While hipmunks samper through the dale
We'll linger till the sun grows pale
To hear the hirping rikets praise
The simple harms of summer days."
The words sounded so silly to Wordsworth without the letter "C," he had to press his lips together to keep from laughing. Then he thought of something that wasn't funny at all: If the letter "C" was missing from books, how would he read his favorite stories about knights and dragons? It would take him forever to get through one page!
"Ruined! All ruined!" Lord Reading wailed. He dashed down the hall, waving the book in the air.
Wordsworth raced in the other direction. He was almost at the bottom of the winding stairs when he collided with Crump, the kitchen boy.
"Help me!" Crump cried, shoving a piece of paper under Wordsworth's nose. "I have to go to the market and get everything on this list. Only I don't understand what it says!"
Wordsworth sighed. At this rate, he would never get to the courtyard to join the knights. He stared at Crump's list:
  1. arrots
  2. hikens
  3. elery
  4. orn
  5. heese
  6. brooli
"Well, that first one is, you know, those long orange vegetables that you pull from the ground," he told Crump.
Crump nodded. "Oh, aye, that's what it is. I see now."
Wordsworth described each item on the list as quickly as he could. The last one was the hardest, until he finally realized it must be broccoli.
"Thank you!" the kitchen boy said.
"You're welcome, Rump," said Wordsworth.
Crump gave him a funny look.
"Sorry," Wordsworth mumbled.
He dashed down the remaining steps and out into the courtyard. Sir Clooney was nowhere in sight, and Wordsworth did not see a single knight.
"They've gone to hunt for the thief," said a voice. It was Phrasia, one of the palace maids.
Wordsworth's hopes sank. "I thought maybe one of them would let me ride with him."
"It is an awful thing, the letter being stolen," Phrasia said, leaning on her broom. "We keep trying to say words with that letter in them, but we an't."
Wordsworth laughed in spite of himself. "No," he agreed, "we an't."
"Who do you think took it?" Phrasia asked.
"Well, it would have to be somebody very strong," said Wordsworth, trying to sound important and smart. "And I don’t see how they would get all the way up to..." Suddenly an idea came to him. It was so obvious, he couldn't believe he hadn't thought of it before. "A dragon," he said. "I think a dragon must have done it."
Phrasia's eyebrows went up. "A dragon?"
"Yes," said Wordsworth. "Dragons fly, so it would be easy for them to get up to the window. And a dragon is strong enough to bend the bars. He would take the letter out through the window and arry it away."
"Hmmm," said Phrasia. "You may be right."
Wordsworth was surprised. He had never talked to anyone who believed there were still dragons in Atoz. He waited.
"I live on the edge of the Forest of Spells," Phrasia continued, "and from time to time I see strange traks -- large traks made by an animal with four long toes with sharp laws on the end."
Laws? thought Wordsworth. It took him a second to figure out what she meant.
"Those sound like dragon traks," Wordsworth said. He raised his wooden sword. "I'm in training to be a knight. I know how to fight dragons." 

Phrasia nodded. "I'll show you where I found the traks."

Discussion Questions for Chapter 1

copyright Christina Wald

Have you read Chapter 1 yet? If not, off you go. Hop over and give it a read:

_Chapter 1_

When you're done, come back here. You and your friends can talk about how you would answer these questions:

(1) How does Wordsworth feel about becoming a knight someday?

(2) What does Wordsworth think about dragons?

(3) Did you notice the names of the king and his daughter (Omicron and Rho)? What about the former ruler, Queen Gamma? Do you know where those names came from? (Hint: The book is about letters of the alphabet.)

(4) Why do Wordsworth and the king call Sir Clooney, Sir Looney?

(5) At the end of the chapter, King Omicron says: "They need to understand that this is a matter of extreme urgeny!" What is wrong with that sentence? (Hint: Look closely at the last word. What letter is missing?)

Chapter 1: The Missing Letter

by Scotti Cohn
Copyright Scotti Cohn

copyright Christina Wald


Chapter 1
The Missing Letter
The minute the bells began to chime their morning greeting, Wordsworth jumped out of bed. From his window on the next-to-top level of the castle, he could see the village of Atoz. Farmland stretched to the edge of the forest. In the distance, the tops of the green hills seemed to touch the sky.
Today is going to be a great day! Wordsworth said to himself. Today the king is going to let me ride Starfire, his favorite horse!
Although Wordsworth was only a page, he was in training to be a knight. King Omicron was teaching him to ride and how to use a sword and lance. He could hardly wait until he was big enough and old enough to go out into the kingdom and fight dragons.
"My dear boy," King Omicron had said to him, "there are no dragons in Atoz. There were a few a long time ago. They caused a lot of trouble back in the days of Queen Gamma -- but not any more."
Wordsworth wasn't so sure. He had heard stories about how sneaky dragons could be. What if they were hiding, waiting for a good time to attack? He wanted to be ready.
Suddenly the bells in the castle tower began to ring louder and harder than Wordsworth had ever heard before! His whole body vibrated with the sound, and his heartbeat raced. Was the castle under attack? Had the dragons come out of hiding? He threw on his clothes and ran to the throne room. 
preliminary sketch of Wordsworth / copyright Christina Wald
 Peeking in, he saw King Omicron talking to his chief advisor, Sir Clooney. The king's daughter, Princess Rho, sat beside her father. The princess was about the same age as Wordsworth, and the two of them often spent evenings together playing cards or drawing pictures. Wordsworth always drew dragons, each one more fierce than the last. Princess Rho liked to draw birds flying high in the sky or perched in trees.
"How did this happen?" the king shouted. His face was red. "The Royal Alphabet is guarded night and day!"
"The doors to all four rooms were barred and under guard, as always," said Sir Clooney. "But the bars on one of the windows were bent. The thief must have been very strong."
"Very strong and very tall!" the king exclaimed. "Otherwise, how did he get up to the window? The royal treasury is at the top of the tallest tower!"
Sir Clooney stood straight, his shoulders square. Even his dark gray beard looked stiff, like it was standing at attention, too. "We think the thief must have gone up the outside wall during the night," he said. "He bent the bars and took the letter out through the window."
King Omicron shook his head. "Impossible! The letters of the Royal Alphabet are at least three feet tall and made of the heaviest wood in the kingdom!"
Wordsworth couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had seen the Royal Alphabet a few times, thanks to Princess Rho. She had taken him up into the tower, and the guards had let them look inside the rooms. The letters were so tall and wide and thick, they reminded Wordsworth of furniture. Rho had joked that she would like to tip the letter "E" over on its side to make a table for her room. Wordsworth didn't see how anyone could have lifted something that heavy and carried it away, no matter how he got up to the window.
"Which letter is missing?" asked the king.
"The letter..." Sir Clooney struggled as if something was caught in his throat. He tried once, twice, three times. Finally he blurted, "The third letter, Your Majesty. The third letter has been stolen."
What's wrong with him? wondered Wordsworth. Why doesn't he just say the letter?
"You mean the letter..." Now King Omicron struggled and strained. He failed. "Great Gamma's ghost!" he roared. "This is a disaster! Summon all my knights! We must hunt down the thief!"
"Yes, Your Majesty," said Sir Clooney, bowing as he walked backwards out of the room. "Right away!"
Wordsworth stepped in. "Your Majesty?" he said.
"What? Oh, it's you, lad," said the king. "I suppose you heard everything. This is a terrible day for the Kingdom of Atoz!"
Wordsworth tried to look as tall and serious as possible. He wished that he had a straight, stiff beard like Sir Clooney. "Yes, Your Majesty," he said. "I know I am not a knight yet, but I would like to help Sir Looney--" He stopped.
King Omicron frowned. Wordsworth cleared his throat.
"I would like to help Sir Looney..."
"This is no time to make jokes," said the king. "Sir Looney is the ream of the rop." His hand flew to his mouth. "Great Gamma's ghost!" he exclaimed, his voice muffled by his palm. He jumped up and took his hand away from his mouth. "I am going to speak to the knights myself," he said. "They need to understand that this is a matter of extreme urgeny!"

Copyright Scotti Cohn

Behold the Cover!

Christina has completed the cover illustration in full color, and it's amazing -- from the dragon's poochy tummy to the detailed castle and town to Wordsworth astride his trusty steed, Klause.

copyright Christina Wald

We're closer than ever to putting together the final ebook. We're also going to offer some really cool extras like dragon jewelry and T-shirts, so tell your friends and be sure to follow this blog to receive updates!

And the winner is. . .

Hello Friends!

As you can see from the voting record, Concept Sketch 2 (left) got the most votes from online voters. Concept Sketch 3 (right) came in second with online voters, but was also reported to me as the #1 choice of 3rd and 4th graders at Mrs. Linboom's school.

So..... Based on the two most popular cover sketches, Christina has created a final cover sketch and a title page. We considered trying to combine the two top sketches for the cover, but decided that would make the cover too busy and the type too small for an eBook. With eBooks, we have to remember that people will be seeing a tiny version of the cover on retail web sites such as Amazon, so it's better to have larger images and type without a lot of little details that are difficult to see.

So without further ado, here is the final concept cover sketch for the eBook Wordsworth and the Dragon!
Christina will create a title page for the book based on the sketch below:

Stay tuned for more sketches of the inside illustrations, as well as the next stages of design, when the sketches eventually become final art!

Covers Options Together

You can vote for the cover you like best in our poll (over there, on the right --->). 

Groups or classes can take a vote and send the results to Scotti at sm_cohn (at) hotmail.com.

The Poll will close on Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

Here is a quick look:

To see larger versions of each sketch, click HERE.

It's Wordsworth Wednesday!

This is the last in the series of cover sketches for Wordsworth and the Dragon

You can vote for the cover you like best in our poll (on this blog). Groups or classes can take a vote and send the results to Scotti at sm_cohn (at) hotmail.com.

The Poll will close on Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

To see all of the sketches, click HERE.

Judge Our Covers -- Week 6

It's WORDSWORTH WEDNESDAY! (Judge Our Covers, Week 5)

One more design to choose from after this one! You can see, the cavabok has been slightly redesigned.