Thursday, October 21, 2021

A boy called Harbinger

We are reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow together, which has a fairly advanced lexile score, but the kids wanted to do some spooky stories for October so it fits their interest level, if not their reading level. While we read the kids make note of words they don't know (there are a lot) and when we're finished reading they choose some words to explore. 

Zoë, I can see, needs more instruction on how to read definitions of words because she gets very creative with her exercises. She likes to put her vocabulary words into a story, which is fine, but her interpretations of their definitions are comical. 

Here's today's story:

Once there was a spooky anecdote (tale). The boy that was reading it was called Harbinger (Herald). He loved varleting (acting) at the scary parts. When itinerants (travelers) walked and wandered outside searching for shelter he sang and wrote and read: "She had barely practiced (repeated) credulity (willingly). It behooved me at first!"

I was dead after reading the first two sentences. A boy called Harbinger (Herald)?! I had to excuse myself to go laugh (because Zoë does not like to make mistakes and if she knew she had made such an error would have erased the whole page, lickety-split). 

Anyway, we'll be discussing what a herald is (as opposed to a Harold). That word will be coming up again at Christmastime, anyway, I'm sure (Hark! Those herald angels!). 

Google tells us that varlet /ˈvärlət/ is "a man or boy acting as an attendant or servant."

Acting!? Perfect! thought Zoë. I can use that in my story for sure!

She neglected to digest the entire definition, however. It's a person filling the role of an attendant or servant, or, simply, a person who is an attendant or servant (no doubt related to valet). It can also mean rapscallion. 

I think she about grasped the meaning of itinerants. But I don't think practiced was even one of the words we pulled from the I'm not sure why she picked that word.

Merriam-Webster informs us that credulity /krəˈd(y)o͞olədē/ is "readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence." Again she stopped reading after "willingness" and ran with that idea, and while I suppose one can practice credulity...this does not show she understands the meaning of the word.

Which, again, is fine because she's six. 

And here's her description Ichabod Crane:

Ichabod Crane was tall and helpful. He was envied by the women because he taught their children and rocked their babies and fed their cattle and wattered [sic] their horses. He looked like a scare-crow and he was a teacher. He is not annoying (Ben said that he was). 

I think she's enjoying the story, even if she doesn't quite understand every little detail. 


  1. This made me want to look in VIAF (the virtual international authority file) to see if there could actually BE a boy called Harbinger. I found several authors with the last name Habringer, and one guy who has it as a middle name: Clement Harbinger Bane. I have to kind of smile over having Harbinger Bane together (a herald of something of great distress or annoyance.)

  2. So cute! Harbinger actually sounds like a name someone would use nowadays...haha, but adding Herald (Harold) in there makes it that much cuter! Great story, Z!

    1. It really does sound like a name someone might use today, doesn't it? lol