Is teaching vocabulary a challenge in your homeschool? Does your
student ask about the relevancy of the words? Despite its unusual
name, I.M. for MURDER may be part of the solution. The
second in the VocabCafé series of books, I.M. for MURDER incorporates
300 higher-level vocabulary words into its teen-focused storyline.
Nearly all pages of the novel have at least one bolded, italicized
vocabulary word, and most have more than one. Listed at the bottom
of the page, in footnote style, are the word's part of speech,
pronunciation, and definition. Each chapter's vocabulary words
are listed alphabetically at the end of the chapter for easy review.
In the book's introduction, the VocabCafé team mentions
flash cards that are available for purchase to help reinforce the
words learned in the book. Unfortunately, the website makes no
mention of the cards. I.M. for MURDER is intended for
teens, particularly at the high school level. It could be used
as part of a language arts class or for summer reading with a purpose.
In the story, Will Johnson is a typical 16-year old boy with a
job, homework, and an upcoming tennis match. He and his two best
friends enjoy spending time together, but sometimes their activities--specifically,
their shenanigans--get out of hand. They find themselves in danger
as one of their Internet pranks involves a serial killer who is
now tracking them.
Pros: I really like the idea of making vocabulary relevant.
I also appreciate the definitions on the same page and the list
of words to review at the end of each chapter. That would certainly
be helpful in a classroom setting.
Cons: As far as the story goes, I didn't really like
the plot. The choices made by all of the characters, parents and
youth alike, were disappointing, especially considering the book's
dedication to "my friend and Savior, Jesus Christ." The idea of
a serial killer being defeated so easily was disturbing and unrealistic.
The vocabulary words were rarely ones that I would use in conversation,
and I consider myself to be above average in my word choices.
I did let my middle school son read it, and he liked it a little.
He enjoyed the action. However, I used the novel as a way to discuss
better choices that would be pleasing to God.