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
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 alsohas 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!
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:
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.
For Sets, Packs, eBooks, and USB Audio, order here
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…
There are 163 fairly to super clear Latin to English (and even Spanish) cognates, and then just 7 other necessary Latin words (ad, est, et, in, nōn, quoque, sed) found within this tale of nearly 2500 words in length.
“Piso can’t seem to write any poetry. He’s distracted, and can’t sleep. What’s going on?! Is he sick?! Is it anxiety?! Has he lost his inspiration?! On Syra’s advice, Piso seeks mystical remedies that have very—different—effects. Can he persevere?”
Pīsō et Syra… is the 17th novella in the Pisoverse, the collection of Latin novellas written with sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary to provide more understandable reading material for the beginning Latin student. The Pisoverse now provides over 44,000 total words of Latin using a vocabulary of 645 (just about half of which—320—are cognates!).
Last week, we started Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) in what I’m calling Free Reading Fridays, which is 10 minutes of independent reading at the start of class just before we do some kind of team game. It’s a great way to end the week. I wrote about how first year Latin students have had 143 minutes of FVR so far, but that’s been in segments of 3-5 minutes in the middle of class, with students choosing class texts from their folder. Last Friday was the first day they were able to sit in the back and choose anything from our library…
The companion text to Syra sōla is now available on Amazon.
Rūfus lutulentus, Rūfus et arma ātra, Agrippīna: māter fortis, and now Syra sōla all have companion texts, either as collections of additional stories via Expanded Readings (i.e. Rūfus et Lūcia: līberī lutulentī, Syra et animālia, and Rūfusetgladiātōrēs), or a parallel novella via Choose-Your-Own-Level Readings (i.e. Līvia: māter ēloquens). These books have a colored border, and more than one unique word count button to show the range throughout (depending on the level one reads), which corresponds the other Pisoverse books (i.e. light blue <50 words; dark blue 50-100 words; purple 100+ words). This word count button is intended to inform teachers of relative reading level, and help learners choose a book during Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Thus, I refer to all these companion texts as “FVR readers.”
N.B. Even though the companion texts are all based on existing novellas, learners don’t need to have read the originals!They can exist independently as FVR reading options.
Syra et animālia is the latest addition to the FVR readers. The new companion text to Syra sōla features the most super clear cognates in a Pisoverse novella to date, with 60! In this book, Syra encounters various animals around Rome on her quest for a pet. Familiar Pisoverse characters make appearances throughout, such as the arrogant Terrex, who we learn has a pet ape he doesn’t like and never named, and a pet peacock he adores, named Pāvopapī!
Anyone who knows anything about Latin will agree that the language is SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). In more friendly terms, this means that Latin how Yoda speaks resembles it does. This common understanding is just one basic assumption that drives a lot of decisions and discussions. Yet, how certain are we that Latin is as SOV as we think…
Teachers have had many questions regarding the use of novellas in the classroom. While the easiest is to simply have them available for students to read, I’ve taken a more cumulative approach to setting aside time for independent reading this year. Here are 5 different no-prep ways to read novellas:
**ALL novellas available for Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)** 1) Whole-Class & Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) Intro 2) Whole-Class & SSR 3) SSR & Expanded Readings (ExR) 4) Audiobook, SSR & ExR 5) Poetry of the Week
For this year’s students, learning about the Romans—in Latin—began late in October with a CALP-inspired topic exploration on Roman housing (more on this, later) after months of focusing on the self, class, and community. Exploring Roman housing took place just after students read their first novella, Quīntus et nox horrifica. Upon returning from the December holiday break, students read their second novella, Drūsilla in Subūrā, which featured city-living apartments more familiar to them after the topic exploration during the fall. Learning about the Romans will now continue throughout the year as a new weekly routine begins…
Quīntus et nox horrifica—a scary story even Latin 1 students can understand with ease!
It’s one of my favorites, and is here just in time for Halloween. This latest Pisoverse novella clocks in at 52 unique words (excluding names, different forms, and meaning established in the text), but uses 26 super clear cognates. In fact, this will be the very first novella we read in my classes in about a month, with Rūfus lutulentus(20 words), and the others to follow. Quīntus et nox horrifica is available…