Books, Current Events, Words, Writing

13: Telling Tall Tales With Brand New Words

If you visited me yesterday, you might have noticed that I mentioned something about weaving a tall tale using some of the words I learned. So this here is my attempt of telling tall tales with brand new words. What do you get from it? Hopefully some delight from the obviously ludicrous tale I am sure to spin, and maybe the words that were new to me are new for you too (and you will expand your vocabulary!)

Given it is still Storytelling Week, this seems apt!

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Telling Tall Tales With Brand New Words

The Words Themselves

13 of them for Thursday 13….Read the tall tale below that includes these words and try to decipher the meaning there. Then scroll down to the bottom of the post for a short definition and links to dictionaries with more on the words.

  • zorilla
  • bugbear
  • strigiform
  • trachled
  • risible
  • floriation
  • earworm
  • enigmatologist
  • highfalutin
  • fasool
  • ratiocination
  • recondite
  • paraph

and bonus words: retcon and Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon that I talked about a while ago.

Now, the Tall Tale

Each word is in a separate paragraph below and in bold.

Part One: The Mystery

Zoey the zorilla was not sure where she was. Well, she was not even sure how she came to be wherever she was. It looked like she was up in the sky, but fact one, she could not fly. After all, she was a zorilla. And fact two, she was stationary. She peeped down cautiously. And….her eyes popped out …

If she was not facing the bugbear of her life, or rather, precariously perched (could a zorilla perch?) on the said bugbear, a flagpole with a flag that had Zorro on it, then she might have laughed it off. But no, there she was on the pole and the Zorro flag looking her in the eye, like they had been waiting for her, for this moment.

Part Two: Looking for Answers

So she shook her stripes, carefully stood straight up, and said to herself, “Let me deal with it one step at a time.” And as she wondered what she should do next, she saw a strigiform figure right at the base of the pole that she had obviously missed before. Zoey wondered for a second if owls ate zorillas but she had not heard of any stories like that yet.

So she bravely slid down the pole to that stately strigiform bird. Meanwhile, Ollie Owl was having difficulty controlling his risible muscles as he watched this black and white creature slip and slide down the pole towards him.

Photo by Jevgeni Fil on Unsplash

He wondered what had happened to her to appear so trachled. Oh well, he would wait for her to tell him when she got closer, and before he could finish that thought, there she was!

Zoey approached the owl and for a moment just stared at him. Was he wearing a suit? With a floriated tie?! Looks like he was prepping up for spring. And he wondered if Gregory the groundhog had seen his shadow (or not), for wasn’t it that day today?

In the silence that ensued, the earworm that had been plaguing Zoey for the past week returned again, in full power, and she lost track of her thoughts until she heard a throat clearing rather loudly. It was the owl! He was waiting for her to say something, and here she was, going through the lyrics of Sia Songbird’s song.

Zoey gathered her courage and addressed the owl thus, “Oh supreme strigiform, I have heard that you are a most accomplished enigmatologist! So I am sure you can help me solve this mystery of the how, why, where, and what I am doing here – wherever it is?”

Part Three: The Reveal

Now, Ollie, he was not a regular old wise owl. No sirree, he was different! He stayed away from using highfalutin words like many of his friends, and spoke in the simplest language, in something even that baby sloth next pole over would understand. Looking at this obviously befuddled, confused zorilla who stood before him, he decided to take it down one more notch, and said to her, “From what I know and could see when I was making my nightly rounds, you sleep-climbed up this pole last night. I then decided to stand guard just in case, and knew you were likely to be confused when you woke up.”

“As for where this pole is, it is the one next to Panda’s Pasta Store, which is popular because of its fasool. I have seen you come here many morns and late evenings too, as I get ready for bed or wake up. So hope that helps you.”

Spinoziano, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

“And, using simple ratiocination based on how you looked at this pole each time you came for fasool, I think you are trying to conquer your fears in your dreams! Hence sleep-climbing up there!”

Part Four: Almost the End

Zoey looked at Ollie as if he had shared the most recondite information, just for a minute. And then the lightbulb came on, and she beamed as she realized that she was now free of her bugbear!! She thanked Ollie profusely and wanting to show her gratitude, she asked him to wait while she rushed to Panda’s Pasta store.

She picked up her favorite fasool and some dessert as well. Then she wrote a note that simply said “To the strigiform who slays bugbears! Thank You!” and signed it (of course, included her special paraph in the signature).

The End (aka When Tall Tales Continue)

PS: In later tellings of this tale to her friends, Zena and Zelda, Zoey retconned the ways she ended up at the top of the pole and also other aspects of it, as the pole grew taller (like her tale itself), came alive (the pole, I mean), and so much more.

PPS: Zoey’s friends remarked that when they first heard Zoey’s strange tale, they started seeing zorillas up on poles everywhere, though they had never even heard of something like that before. It was definitely the Baader-Meinhof Syndrome at play.

Related Reads

Tall Tales and Other Stuff

For Groundhog Day (Some Tall Tales Here, Maybe!)

Each of these books is a delight to read.

  • The newest addition to this list is Groundhog Gets It Wrong by Jess Townes (my review on IG here) (3 – 5 years, and up)
  • Then there is Don Freeman’s sweet read about friendship titled Gregory’s Shadow (also for 3 – 5 years, and up)
  • Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow written and illustrated by by David Biedrzycki is a graphic novel style book for young readers (4 – 8 years, and up) which is oh-so-creative and silly all at the same time with an underlying message of friendship and that sharing fun increases it.
  • For a heartwarming read perfect for Valentine’s Day as well, check out Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Christopher Denise. Great way to cozy up for those additional weeks of winter! (3 – 5 years)
  • The Night Before Groundhog Day follows in the style of other ‘Night Before’ books and approaches the holiday from the perspective of kids celebrating it. A sweet, informative read with detailed vibrant artwork.
  • Groundhog Gets a Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow and art by Denise Bunkus. This is such a clever and fun combination of fiction and nonfiction! Humorous animal characters, including a groundhog (or should I say woodchuck) of course, take us through the life of a groundhog and more while keeping us smiling throughout (3 – 7 years, and up)
  • When groundhog can’t be there for groundhog day, who can sub for him? Read all about it in the delightful Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller with sweet detailed art by Kathi Embers. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised (4 – 8 years, and up)
  • A Grumpy Groundhog can sure be cute, and that is just what we learn in this adorable read where the townspeople try various ways to tempt groundhog out of his hole! (3 – 6 yrs)
  • Groundhog’s Day Off by Robb Pearlman and art by Brett Helquist. I am not sure what I loved more about this one – the stunning graphics or the imaginative and humorous narrative with a heartwarming message? Well, easier to say that I loved them both! Read to decide for yourself (3 – 6 years, and up)

Back to The Words

  • zorilla: a striped polecat
  • bugbear: an object or source of dread
  • strigiform: of or belonging to the owl family
  • trachled: an exhausted or bedraggled person
  • risible: capable of laughing (here refers to laughter muscles)
  • floriation: floral ornamentation
  • earworm: a tune or part of a song that repeats in one’s mind.
  • enigmatologist: someone who solves/creates enigmas; specifically word, logic, and number puzzles
  • highfalutin: pompous, pretentious
  • fasool (or fazool): pasta and beans
  • ratiocination: logical deduction
  • recondite: obscure/little known
  • paraph: flourish at the end of signature
  • retcon: to revise an established part of a story told before

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, which of these books would you read first? And any recommendations? I would love to hear your thoughts on tall tales, new words, and winter vs spring, plus more!

For Thursday Thirteen….Join us and check out more 13 lists…

7 thoughts on “13: Telling Tall Tales With Brand New Words

  1. Good for Zoey! “Strigiform” is a great word. I learned “highfalutin” back a million years ago in Girl Scouts. We performed “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” for our parents dinner: “He’s the highfautin, rootin’ tootin’, son of a gun from Arizona …”

  2. That is a fantastic exercise! Boosts creativity in an instant. I bet kids would love it too (given less extravagant words, mind me). I loved your story and thank for zorillla image, I would have to google it otherwise

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