In 1932 Dorothy Greenwald won the National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “knack.” Even I could spell knack in eighth grade. Yet I’d never have entered a spelling bee, all hot lights and musty promise of perspiration and embarrassment. Little hope of avoiding humiliation at thirteen. Bright red marks stood out on the carefully embellished cover of my essay on Emily “Dickenson,” hung with the others on the wall. An e and an i in each name had seemed symmetrical. Double-checking would have saved weeks of shame. This year the Scripps National Spelling Bee winners correctly spelled “scherenschnitte” and “nunatak.”

Sarah Monsma writes for children, students, and adults and lives near Boston. She’s an avid reader and reviewer of middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. When she’s not writing or reading, Sarah can be found outdoors walking the dog or indoors playing with yarn and knitting needles or a crochet hook. She has a personal essay forthcoming in culture: the word on cheese. www.sarahmonsma.com