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Chapman, Karen B. The Marino mission; one girl, one mission, one thousand words.

CHAPMAN, Karen B. The Marino mission; one girl, one mission, one thousand words. Wiley Publishing (111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030). 326p. c2005. 0-7645-7831-6. $12.99. JS

As a precocious eight-year-old, I was fond of trying to impress my recalcitrant peers and my admiring third-grade teacher by inserting multisyllabic, Latinate words into ordinary conversation. Fortunately, I outgrew my penchant for pretentious vocabulary words, in writing and in life. I was reminded of those days recently, though, reading The Marino Mission, a novel with "1,000 need-to-know new SAT vocabulary words" embedded--sometimes awkwardly--in the story. About two-thirds of the book is an adventure story about a teen girl doing a summer internship in a marine biology lab in Central America who works with a local teen boy to set a captive baby dolphin free. Each vocabulary word is footnoted, and readers can check the definitions at the bottom of the page. The remainder of the book is a more traditional SAT vocabulary study guide with word lists, definitions and quizzes.

The idea of The Marino Mission is to free students from the boredom of the traditional SAT study aids. As the back cover copy puts it: "Why spend all day looking at lists of words and definitions when you can read a gripping page-turner that incorporates SAT vocabulary words right into the text?" Reading is known to improve vocabulary, so the theory here is sound. It's the integration of the SAT words into the storyline and, especially, the dialog that seems a stretch. Would any real teens make speeches like, "It is absolutely an insidious offense to desecrate such a beautiful place!"? If readers can overcome their disbelief at the artificial dialog and sometimes-obtrusive vocabulary words, they may enjoy the story.

The book is nicely designed, with an attractive cover, easy-to-read footnotes, well-defined chapter and section heads, and plenty of white space. Parts of the story are told in Alexa's e-mails to her friend Laurie back home and Laurie's replies, with a different font used for these entries. While The Marino Mission will probably appeal primarily to high school students preparing for PSAT and SAT exams, younger students preparing for similar exams may also find it a welcome change from or supplement to traditional study guides. Kathryn Kulpa, Libn., Our Lady of Fatima HS, Warren, RI

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
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Author:Kulpa, Kathryn
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:409
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