Olianna et obiectum magicum: Published!

Olianna is different from the rest of her family, and finds herself excluded as a result. Have you ever felt that way? One day, a magical object appears that just might change everything for good. However, will it really be for the better? Can you spot any morals in this tale told from different perspectives?

12 cognates + 12 other words!
1100 total length

“Familiar” is the name of the game. This debut non-Roman novella gets into the kind of family dynamics I discuss with students in first year Latin with the theme of “belongingness” relatable to all. The familiarity of the topic and high cognate count puts this on par with Mārcus magulus as the first two books that can be read by the earliest of beginners!

When it comes to those beginners, exposure to the language is crucial, yet they key is to not overwhelm the learner with too many different word meanings while reading. This is known as “sheltering vocabulary,” or limiting words, whenever possible. At the same time, the learner also needs exposure to different word forms for languages with many inflections, such as Latin. Exposure to different forms builds a mental representation of the language that helps the learner process meaning. Therefore, the most effective texts vary word forms within a small vocabulary. Varying word forms is known as “unsheltering grammar,” that is, not limiting word forms in an effort to teach that grammatical form—dearest no—but instead using any grammatical forms necessary, and at times even deliberately using as many forms as possible so the learner acquires them implicitly without effort. Olianna et obiectum magicum is another one of my best examples of exposing students to different grammatical forms of Latin within a single narrative, especially given its small scope. Despite the low word count, the novella contains over 120 different grammatical forms! These include:

  • ablative of comparison
  • ablative of means
  • noun/adjective agreement (across 1st/2nd and 3rd declensions)
  • comparative, superlative, and diminutive adjectives
  • imperfect, perfect, and future active
  • present and future passive
  • passive infinitive

You might not believe that a novella containing the above grammatical forms and functions could be one of the first texts read by Latin students, but trust me, it can. When meaning is clear and individual word meanings are reduced, magical things happen, and Olianna is a good example of that. So, with vocabulary sheltered, grammatical exposure early on provides a solid base language learners use to continue building mental representation of Latin throughout the year.

Oh, and like Mārcus, the new Olianna also has a few new features. There are two lists after chapters two and four that include summaries of what’s been learned so far. These short statements can be used to check understanding while building a sense of Olianna’s family dynamics. There’s also a choose-your-own-style epilogue where readers decide what best represents Olianna’s voice. Enjoy!

  1. For Sets, Packs, and eBooks order here
  2. Amazon
  3. eBooks: Storylabs
  4. Digital audio narration

Independent Reading & Speaking Latin

I recently updated the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) to include ongoing Class Days and Culture Days. This provides more of a balance to the year without the previous “Unit 1/Unit 2” structure that each lasted approximately an entire semester. I also made sure to list independent reading as a key component. Yeah, I obviously have a stake in whether teachers build class libraries and include my books, but the whole reason I got into writing novellas in the first place is because I bought into the idea of independent reading tenfold…

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Mārcus magulus: Published!

Marcus likes being a young Roman mage, but such a conspicuous combo presents problems in provincial Egypt after he and his parents relocate from Rome. Despite generously offering magical medicine to the locals, this young mage feels like an obvious outsider, sometimes wishing he were invisible. Have you ever felt that way? Marcus searches Egypt for a place to be openly accepted, and even has a run-in with the famously fiendish Sphinx! Can Marcus escape unscathed?

11 cognates + 8 other words!
800 total length

In 2017, I heard Jason Fritze say that “TPRS is basically the art of communicating using no words.” I’ve been drawing from that quote for years, writing stories with as “no words” as possible. This book truly pushes those limits. If you or your students have found any success with the ultra-early beginner Rūfus lutulentus, this new Mārcus magulus will not disappoint. The former will still have its place in the FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) library. However, effective immediately, Mārcus will replace Rūfus as the very first whole-class novella we read for 2021 and beyond. This new book is shorter, more engaging and intriguing (i.e. moves along quickly!), and comes out even a bit easier—if you could believe that! The audiobook also features a noticeably slower speech rate. Michael Sintros (Duinneall) has done another amazing job on the music. Here are excerpts:

Chapter 1 Excerpt
Chapter 4 Excerpt
Chapter 5 Excerpt
Chapter 6 Excerpt
Chapter 7 Excerpt

Mārcus magulus also has a few new features. There are two lists after chapters two and five that include summaries of what’s been learned so far. These short statements can be used to check understanding while building a sense of Marcus’ experience in Egypt. There are also some post-reading discussion questions that I’ve redacted in the screenshot below so as to not spoil the book.

  1. For Sets, Packs, eBooks, and USB Audio, order here
  2. Amazon
  3. eBooks: Storylabs
  4. Digital Audiobook

Pisoverse Companion Texts: HARDCOVER Combos!

Following last month’s new hardcover containing all three volumes of sīgna zōdiaca, the five Pisoverse novellas with a companion text are now offered as a combined hardcover option, as well. The companion texts have been used as more independent reading options, to expand vocabulary and bridge beginner texts, and for various annotation tasks and activities by copying them from the teacher guides/materials (Rūfus lutulentus Teacher’s Materials, Syra sōla Teacher’s Materials, Rūfus et arma ātra Teacher’s Materials, Agrippīna Teacher’s materials, and Pīsō Teacher’s Guide).

These combos are more geared toward independent reading, with notes at the end of each novella chapter that send students to the additional story pages.

Available only on Amazon…

sīgna zōdiaca collectiō: HARDCOVER!

All three volumes of sīgna zōdiaca have been combined into one new collection bound in hardcover! The myths also feature a new version that’s been adapted even further for a quick read (i.e. fābula rapida). When myths are read monthly with the changing of each sign, these new versions provide additional scaffolding which I found helpful in the first months of first year Latin. The book feels good, too, with a solid binding, similar to my LLPSI (Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata) hardcover. The total length of this collection is 8100 words.

The collection is only available here on Amazon.

ecce, poēmata discipulīs! (Published!)

This is—by far—my metrical magnum opus, yet that doesn’t mean it’s beyond the reach of Latin 1 students. Forget any meter of mine you’ve ever met. If your pupils haven’t cared much for poor Piso’s poetry, no problem. This book is for them! It basically makes fun of Latin class, and school in general, which is a very different, yet delightful read, and it’s for students. I keep pointing that out because I’ve come to find that a lot of teaching materials are actually written for teachers, who then of course go on to use them with students (my own Piso Workbook included). This book, however, instead is written for students, directly…

“Wait, we have to read…Eutropius…who’s that?! Homework on a Friday?! Class for an hour straight without a break?! Oh no, more tests in Math?! What, no glossary?! Why can’t we just read?! Honestly, I was in bed (but the teacher doesn’t know!)…”

This collection of 33 poems is a humorous yet honest reflection of school, Latin class, homework, tests, Romans, teaching, and remote learning.

First Poems: “For students, teachers, cats, and dogs”
Those Classes in English: “Chem 101”
Romans & Not-So-Great Teaching: “Who’s Left?”

What makes this good? Why do I need this?
I can answer with some numbers:

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Agrippīna aurīga: Published!

If you like Rūfus et arma ātra, you’ll love Agrippīna aurīga. This might very well be my most engaging text yet, at what I’ve come to see as the the rare “Goldilocks” intersection of comprehension, confidence, and compellingness.

Young Agrippina wants to race chariots, but a small girl from Lusitania couldn’t possibly do that…could she?! After a victorious race in the stadium of Emerita, the local crowd favorite charioteer, Gaius Appuleius Dicloes, runs into trouble, and it’s up to Agrippina to step into much bigger shoes. Can she take on the reins in this equine escapade?

24 cognates + 33 other words
1800 total length

We’ve known Piso’s family is from Hispānia all along. This book picks up on that with Agrippina, our strong mother, back in her childhood stomping grounds. I wanted to write a book with more action that could follow Rūfus et arma ātra. It turns out that I might want to read this before the sword-slinging saga. Agrippīna aurīga is written at a very similar level, though with 24 cognates compared to just two in Rūfus, and besides, I’ve realized that there’s no need to always increase the difficulty and length of each new book. In fact, that might be one way some kids get left in the dust. So, jumping “ahead” a little bit with this (aurīga) only to read a shorter book with fewer words (arma ātra) afterwards not only will go faster, but will also feel more confident a read for the students. Plus, it provides multiple opportunities to re-engage students who aren’t keeping up with reading on their own, and/or are missing far too many classes.

Michael Sintros (Duinneall), who worked with me on the creepy content of Quīntus et nox horrifica audiobook, once again has delivered engaging, ambient music with a new fantastic ancient instrument library. I cannot stress enough how crucial I’ve found these audiobooks to be towards making an unforgettable classroom experience. If I could combine the audio on Amazon as one purchase, I would, but you’ll have to get audio from Bandcamp to listen to with a physical book. Note that the eBooks from both Storylabs & Polyglots have audio included.

Chapter 1 excerpt
Chapter 2 excerpt
Chapter 3 excerpt
Chapter 4 excerpt
Chapter 5 excerpt
  1. For Sets, Packs, eBooks, and Audio—with reduced pricesorder here
  2. Amazon
  3. eBooks: Storylabs & Polyglots (<– now includes audiobook!)
  4. Audiobook
  5. Free preview (through Chapter 5, no illustrations)

Love Stories

Wait…next week is Valentine’s Day already?! Crazy. Also, it’s kind of a terrible holiday, though isn’t it? My best memories are of the perforated cards you’d exchange in elementary school just hoping one kid had cool enough parents to buy them the Valentines that had Thundercats or GI Joe characters being all lovey on them. Never liked the heart candy; those were just awful. Anyway, if you have the following books on hand, consider reading them to students this week, or scoop up one of the new eBooks so students can read on their own. Here are novellas that contain stories about the joys of relationships, as well as their challenges:

Sitne amor? (Amazon, eBook Polyglots, eBook on Storylabs)
For first year Latin students, there’s the LGBTQ-friendly book of 2400 words about desire, and discovery, in which Piso crashes and burns when he’s around Syra.

Pluto: fabula amoris (Amazon)
For first or second year Latin students looking for a quick read in a book of 1070 words, there’s this take on the Pluto & Proserpina myth.

Pandora (Amazon, eBook Polyglots, eBook on Storylabs)
For first year Latin students looking for a longer novella of 4200 total words, there’s the adaptation of the Pandora myth.

Ovidius Mus (Amazon)
The three stories based on Ovid in this book 1075 words are designed for readers at the end of their first year.

Unguentum (Amazon)
This book of 1575 words is an adaptation of Catullus 13, and includes tiered versions of the original.

Euryidice: fabula amoris (Amazon)
This book, much like its prequel Pluto, includes a different take on the Eurydice & Orpheus myth.

Medea et Peregrinus Pulcherrimus (Amazon)
A Latin III book of 7500 words in this adaptation of the Golden Fleece.

Carmen Megilli (Amazon)
A Latin III book of 9300 words in this that includes an LGBTQ-friendly love story.

Cupid et Psyche (Amazon)
A Latin III/IV book of 8800 words in this adaptation of of Apuleius.

Ira Veneris (Amazon)
A Latin III/IV book of 11000 words in this follow-up to Cupid & Psyche.

Agrippīna aurīga, Mārcus magulus & mȳthos malus: convīvium Terregis

New year, new books!

My observations after reading novellas *as a whole class* during COVID-19 remote learning has convinced me that audiobooks make for the best experience in that format. Narration has its value, sure, but for whole-class reading, the books with sound effects, character voices, and music, really do up the game. I’ve got three novellas coming up this spring, all with accompanying audiobooks. There will be more details upon publication of each, but here are some brief descriptions…

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sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 3: Published!

This last of three volumes contains details about Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, and features the myths of Typhon, The Golden Fleece, The Minotaur, as well as Castor & Pollux.

Volume III itself contains 62 cognates and 93 other words (excluding names, different forms of words, and meaning established in the text), and is over 3,000 total words in length. The vocabulary across all three volumes comes to 83 cognates and 117 other words. Including all Pisoverse texts, the total number of words written for the beginning Latin student is now just under 65,000 using a vocabulary of just over 800.

Many details in the first four sections of astrologia are repeated from volumes 1 & 2 to provide each reader with a basic understanding of the zodiac signs. sīgna zōdiaca Vol. 3 is available…

  1. For Sets, Packs, eBooks, and Audio—with reduced pricesorder here.
  2. Three-volume-pack special!
  3. Amazon
  4. eBooks: Storylabs & Polyglots
  5. Audio
  6. Free preview (abridged astrologia section, and Piscēs, no illustrations)