Texas Bluebonnet Award 2015-2016

Official TBA Master List Resources Compiled by the TBA Program Committee

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde


The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble
by Frank Cammuso


Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script 

Book Trailer

Author Interview


Author Information:
Frank Cammuso homepage:

About Frank Cammuso:

Daily Crosshatch interview with Frank Cammuso:

Newsarama interview with Frank Cammuso:

Frank Cammuso interview about Salem Hyde:

Frank Cammuso Facebook page:

Frank Cammuso on Twitter:

Frank Cammuso on Pinterest:

SLJ Interview with Frank Cammuso (2:51):

Back Porch Comics interview with Frank Cammuso:

Let’s Get Busy Podcast interview with Frank Cammuso (39:31):

Fanboy Planet interview with Frank Cammuso:

CRB interview with Frank Cammuso:

Zoey interviews Frank Cammuso (3:07):


If you could have any animal as an animal companion which would you choose and why?

A homophone is where words have the same pronunciation but different spellings and different meanings.  These get Salem into trouble. Make a list of homophones and discuss their meanings.

Have a spelling bee with homophones.

Salem is pretty much dared into competing in the spelling bee. If someone dared you to do something would you take the dare or walk away?  Why? What type of dare would you take and what kind would you never do?

Salem doesn’t learn spells.  She makes them up.  Make up some spells.  Remember that the meaning of every word is important.

Salem lists 4 things she likes and 4 things she dislikes.  Make your own list of 4 things you like and 4 things you dislike on an index card. Do not put your name on it. Put the lists in a box and have them read aloud.  Try to guess who’s list it is.

A variation of the above activity is to put your likes and dislikes on a sheet of paper and go around the room finding people who have one of the same one’s you do and have them sign their name to your sheet by that like or dislike.

Salem lists her magic powers.  What one magic power would you like to have and why?  When would you use it?

Salem has a hard time not using magic at school If you had magic powers would you have a hard time not using them at school?  Explain.

Whammy says, “I’m in the restaurant business’. And ‘I’m really cleaning up’.  If you heard someone say these 2 sentences.  What would you automatically think they mean and are they true for Whammy or is he being misleading? If Whammy is being misleading what are his reasons?  What reasons do people give for misrepresenting themselves?  Have you ever done this?  Do you think everyone has?

Whammy says, ‘I’ll give it a shot’. What does this mean?  What is the literal meaning? Do you think comments like this make it hard for people to learn English? Explain.

Whammy says, ‘But if the child refuses to learn there is only so much I can do.  Is this statement true for students in classrooms today? Explain.

Salem’s parents are not magical.  What would you do if you were normal and found you had a magical child?  Explain.

Salem has a hard time understanding the W.H.A.T. test because it is a play on words.  Watch Who’s on First by Abbott and Costello

Who’s On First (8:03):

Perform Who’s On First using the script below.

Write your own routine filled with ‘play on words’.  Perform it.

Salem uses a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom.  What other items does a witch have that are outdated and what would you change them to?

Whammy says, ‘When you chase something it runs away be patient and it will come to you.’ What does this mean? Give examples.

Whammy says spellcasting and spelling are very similar. One letter out of place can change the whole meaning. Sit in a circle.  Have one person start with a 3 letter word.  Have the next person change one letter to change the word. Go around the circle with each person changing the new word into a different word.  You may not duplicate words, You may add a letter, change a letter or omit a letter so the end word may not have the same number of letters in it. See how many times you can go around the circle.

Whammy says, ‘It’s like I said. I’m stuck in a tight situation’.  Whammy is actually stuck in a mailbox.  When we hear ‘stuck in a tight situation’ what comes to mind?  Discuss the difference in literal and figurative speech.

Salem says,’so every letter is important’ and Whammy says, ‘Some more than others’.  Are they talking about the same thing? Explain.

Salem says to Whammy, ‘You’re talking to the queen of impulsive’.  What is impulsive? Have you ever acted impulsively? Is it always a bad thing? Explain.

The principal says to Mr. Fink, ‘I’ll see you in my office on Monday’.  Is there more than one meaning here.  If the principal told you he’d see you in his office on Monday what would be going through your mind and why?

When Salem and Whammy have a bad landing from a flight Salem says, ‘That’s how I roll’.  What does that mean?

Salem confuses words that sound the same. The consequences of her mistakes are humorously illustrated. Make a list of homophones and illustrate them. Write a story to go with your illustrations.

Common homophones:

All about homophones including lists:



Perform the readers theater.

Read the back cover.


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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, v.1: Spelling Trouble.
Cammuso, Frank (author). Illustrated by Frank Cammuso. Oct. 2013. 96p. Abrams/Amulet, hardcover, $14.95 (9781419708039); Abrams/Amulet, paperback, $6.95 (9781419708046). Grades 3-5. 741.5.

REVIEW. First published November 15, 2013 (Booklist).

Young witch Salem Hyde wants to win the spelling bee and be crowned the spelling queen, but when she accidentally turns the school’s crossing guard into a dinosaur, she know she needs help with her spells (and, coincidentally, her spelling). Enter Percival J. Whamsford III, a cat who has helped many witches over the past 800 years, and he still has five lives left. But Salem is a challenge: she flies on a vacuum cleaner, she’s impatient and impulsive, and she gets her spells just wrong enough to cause big havoc. For instance, when Salem casts a spell to win the school spelling bee, misspelled words come to life, turning the teacher whose “constant lecturing made him a bore” into a garbage-munching boar. Can Whammy help Salem put things back to normal before Mr. Fink gets her expelled? And can Salem learn to be a great witch after all? Young readers will eat up Cammuso’s (Otto’s Orange Day, 2008) action-packed panels, full of cartoonish antics, silly puns, and playful slapstick humor.
— Kat Kan

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Cammuso, Frank. The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Book One: Spelling Trouble. November 2013
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4197-0803-9
Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-4197-0804-6

In the opening pages of this graphic-novel-styled easy reader, young witch Salem Hyde accidentally turns a crossing guard into a dinosaur, unleashing terror at her school and almost blowing her cover as a normal (albeit mischievous) girl. The incident spurs her grandmother to get Salem an animal companion to guide the young girl’s budding magical powers and keep her propensity for troublemaking in check. Percival J. Whamsford III, aka Whammy, shows up for the job, and while the smart-aleck cat isn’t the unicorn Salem requested, he still manages to save the day when Salem’s spellcasting yet again goes awry at her school’s annual spelling bee. Cammuso evokes both the sarcastic spunk and gentle warmth of Calvin and Hobbes in this humorous tale of unlikely pals, and the simple black and white illustrations reaffirm the parallel with their wide-eyed, big-headed figures and frantic energy. A few of the jokes may fly over the heads of young readers (a play on Moby-Dick is more likely to get chuckles from adults than developing readers), but the sequential paneling and spare dialogue in word bubbles offer a solid framework for young readers just discovering the graphic format.

School Library Journal:
CAMMUSO, Frank. The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble. Bk. 1. illus. by Frank Cammuso. 96p. (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Series). Abrams/Amulet. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0803-9; pap. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0804-6.

Gr 2-5–It’s hard enough navigating elementary school, but for Salem Hyde she has to do so while keeping her magical skills in check in Cammuso’s (Knights of the Lunch Table, 2008) charming new graphic novel series. After Salem confuses the upcoming spelling contest with spell casting and accidentally turns the crossing guard, Mrs. Fossil, into a dinosaur, her non-magical parents enlist the help of a magical companion to assist Salem. Percival J. Whamsford III, or “Whammy” as Salem likes to call him, is a cat who has 800 years’ experience teaching young witches to use their powers. Salem’s impulsive antics (flying a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom and having a whale materialize in the gymnasium when “wail” is misspelled during the contest) frustrate Whammy, but ultimately the two come together to make things right and form a strong friendship. Cammuso’s play on words are simple enough for new readers to understand and sophisticated enough to entertain those with more advanced skills. A memorable scene about a “WHAT Witch” test that is reminiscent of Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine. The characters are drawn with big smiles and wide eyes, invoking classic comic imagery, while the mostly black-and-white illustrations are infused with shades of pale green. Fans who like their Sunday cartoons with longer plots and hysterical antics will clamor for the next adventure in this creative series. Move over Babymouse–there’s a clever new character in the graphic novel section.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY



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