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Jack and the Beanstalk
with Sniffy the Hamster, resident wordsmith
Sniffy Says: "When I was a wee little hamster me Mummy used to call me, 'Hammy.' I'd say 'Mummy?' She'd say, 'Hammy?' Mummy? Hammy? Mummy? Hammy? Anyway, let's talk about 'paltry.' It's an adjective, that is, it describes a noun. When Jack's mom said, 'paltry beans', she meant those beans were wooorthlesssss. They had no value. No one would even pay a penny for them. They were useless, they were anything but magic beans which is why she tossed them out the window. Boy, was she wrrrrong!"
Sniffy Says: "Run, run, run or pelter, pelter, pelter? I'm going to pelter! I like stomping my feet as I run because I like making lots of noise, so off I pelter as fast as I can. Can you pelter? Try it. First, you have to run, but then you kind of slap your feet on the ground as you do it—you can't pelter quietly—so you should probably pelter outside unless you want your Dad to yell, "Stop peltering in the house!!" So go outside to pelter around the yard, but if it's summer time you might swelter when you pelter. Say that fast. Swelter. Pelter. Swelter. Pelter. Swelter. Pelter!"
Sniffy Says: "When you hear 'copper' I'll bet you think of the copper that is a metal—the stuff they make pennies out of, but it can mean other things too. A 'copper' is also a policeman, but Jack would have a hard time hiding in a policeman. Or, it can refer to a coin or token, something you might use to play video games at the fair. But Jack would have hard time hiding in a coin. So what does Jack hide in? I'll give you a hint. If the ogre found Jack in the copper all he would have to do is put the copper on the stove, add some water, salt and pepper and then cook Jack up for dinner. That's right. A copper in Jack and the Beanstalk is a big, cooking pot made out of copper. I hope that ogre doesn't like hamster soup. I'm outta here!"
Sniffy Says: "Ahem. Okay, I'm going to try a poem. So get yourself ready! Herrrre we go:
I am the hamster Master Rogue,
A 'worthless rodent' I am called,
along with 'beggar' and 'Swindler Hoag.'
I steal and trick—so be appalled,
I'm not slowed by any drogue*,
So be careful or by me be mauled.
To be mischevious is in vogue,
Though it doesn't help I'm going bald.
Have you ever seen a bald hamster?
It's terrible—wait—that doesn't rhyme!
Ahhh, rogue, bogue, ahhh, mogue—
Oh forget it! I quit! It's over, I admit!
I can't rhyme a bit! I've lost my wit!
I'm such a twit—a rogue too—
Has this made sense to you?"
*a parachute used to decelerate an object that is moving rapidly
The Free Dictionary: This is now my favorite on-line dictionary (the box above links to this dictionary). Not only does it provide you with audios to pronounce the word, but it also gives you examples of the word used in context. They also have a "References in classic literature" section which provides entire sentences from classic literature in which the word is used. Also includes a thesaurus, encyclopedia and more.
Answers.com: This is not just a dictionary, but it has a dictionary and the reason I list it is because the dictionary has an audio pronunciation feature which is very helpful when one comes across words that are difficult to pronounce or have never been seen before. Access is free.
The Dictionary of Difficult Words: Good resource for those words that your dictionary doesn't have or that other on-line dictionaries do not have.
A Latin Dictionary: This is great resource for Latin. There is even a downloadable version for your computer that will do both Latin/English and English/Latin.
Dictionary.com Free Access. You can purchase additional features.
Merriam-Webster Free Access.
WordSmyth A children's dictionary is also available. This dictionary requires registration. Free Access.
Oxford English Dictionary The best English dictionary in the world! This dictionary requires paid subscription. $29.95 per month or $295.00 per year.