"Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World" by Ashley Herring Blake, Chapters 1–9

After her house is destroyed by a tornado, 12-year-old Ivy must navigate changing relationships with her family and friends.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–9, Chapters 10–15, Chapters 16–22, Chapters 23–33

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. racket
    a loud and disturbing noise
    Thunder rumbled through the night, rattling Ivy Aberdeen’s bedroom windows and making a beautiful racket.
  2. inspiration
    arousal of the mind to unusual activity or creativity
    Ivy scanned the page for inspiration.
  3. glower
    look angry or sullen as if to signal disapproval
    She glowered at the picture and flicked the page over so hard, it tore right out of the notebook.
  4. awry
    away from the correct or expected course
    She nearly balled it up and tossed it toward her garbage can, which was already overflowing with other drawings gone awry.
  5. plait
    a hairdo formed by braiding or twisting the hair
    In real life, Ivy’s hair was strawberry blond, with frizzy curls her mother used to braid into smooth plaits.
  6. sleek
    having a smooth, gleaming surface reflecting light
    Ivy gave the other girl dark hair, the color of a raven’s sleek feathers.
  7. loom
    hang over, as of something threatening, dark, or menacing
    He pulled her toward the door just as the freakiest sound Ivy had ever heard loomed over the siren.
  8. locomotive
    a self-propelled vehicle that draws a train along a track
    It grew louder and louder, a locomotive that couldn’t possibly exist out here in her family’s little part of rural Georgia.
  9. gauzy
    so thin as to transmit light
    Her gauzy curtains were torn, wrapped around twigs and green-leafed branches.
  10. muggy
    hot or warm and humid
    The air felt muggier than their normal southern Aprils. It was a choking kind of feeling, like the earth couldn’t breathe.
  11. flail
    thrash about
    Ivy saw Layla hovering over their mom, who was on her knees in the yard, screaming and trying to wrap Aaron back in her arms. He flailed on the grass, but his cries were swallowed up by the storm.
  12. brainstorm
    try to solve a problem by thinking intensely about it
    She would always brainstorm with Ivy and Layla, letting them spill all their ideas into her lap.
  13. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    “I know it’s serious, Ives.” Layla sounded exasperated and hurt, and it made Ivy’s stomach feel sour.
  14. eerie
    inspiring a feeling of fear; strange and frightening
    It was over in a blink. All that noise turning into an eerie silence.
  15. raspy
    unpleasantly harsh or grating in sound
    “I don’t know,” he said. His breathing must have just started up again too, because it sounded raspy and quick.
  16. rustling
    a light noise, like leaves blowing in the wind
    Ivy heard rustling as her dad stood up.
  17. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object as cast by its shadow
    It was barely any lighter outside, but Ivy made out Dad’s silhouette against the greenish-black sky.
  18. rickety
    inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
    Possible translation: That rickety shutter on the living room window that always smacked against the house whenever the wind blew was gone.
  19. insulation
    material reducing transmission of sound, heat or electricity
    Because there was nothing there. Nothing house-shaped, anyway. Just rubble. Just a mess. Just wood and that pink insulation stuff and tiles and clothes and food, all the colors of their world thrown together like a giant had had a temper tantrum.
  20. tarp
    a sheet of waterproofed canvas
    “Layla, go shake out that tarp, and we’ll put everything we find over there.”
  21. hysterical
    marked by excessive or uncontrollable emotion
    A hysterical laugh bubbled into Ivy’s throat, but she forced it down. No one would understand why a laugh was the best thing right now.
  22. arc
    form an arch or curve
    “Just looking,” Ivy said, but she stepped on the rubble, right where it started arcing up into a little hill.
  23. gape
    be wide open
    Ivy moved forward a bit more, inching here and there to avoid the gaping holes between planks of wood and broken furniture.
  24. fleck
    make a spot or mark onto
    The chrome faucet was still flecked with dried toothpaste.
  25. nib
    the writing point of a pen
    They were nice pens, artist quality and fancy. You could refill the ink and replace the nibs, and they came with a blender pen.
  26. lacquer
    coat with varnish
    Families grouped together, claiming spaces on the shiny lacquered floor.
  27. tinge
    a slight but appreciable amount
    “I don’t know,” Layla said, kissing Aaron’s cheek. “I guess Ivy’s old enough to look after herself.” There was a tinge of hurt in her voice, but Ivy ignored it.
  28. fend
    try to manage without help
    She waited for Mom to disagree with Layla, to say that Ivy wasn’t that old, because if twelve wasn’t old enough to stay up past nine thirty on a school night, then it certainly wasn’t old enough to fend for herself in a tornado.
  29. flounce
    walk in an emphatic or exaggerated way
    Taryn flounced over in her bright yellow bathing suit to where Ivy’s mom was trying to fit a pair of goggles over Ivy’s head of thick hair.
  30. sprawl
    sit or lie with one's limbs spread out
    She sat up and looked around the dim room at the red glow from the EXIT signs and the lumpy shapes sprawled all over the floor.
  31. gist
    the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work
    Ivy didn't exactly understand everything they were saying, but the gist was pretty clear.
  32. profound
    showing intellectual penetration or emotional depth
    “Yeah,” June said, like Ivy had said something profound. “What was her letter to the world? And why would the whole world write her a letter anyway?”
  33. hobble
    walk impeded by some physical limitation or injury
    She hobbled back to June, stretched out on her stomach, and started to draw.
  34. frayed
    worn away or tattered along the edges
    Soon, it was June. Or a mermaid version of June, anyway. But with her diamond-patterned mermaid tail, frayed tank top, and the little beaded seashell necklace around her neck, the drawing was also Greenleigh.
  35. aorta
    the large artery carrying blood from the heart to the body
    “Used to be,” June said, setting her phone back down, “scientists thought the aorta in their heart was big enough for a human to swim through. Now we know it’s not, and their whole heart is about the size of a golf cart. I still love the idea, though.”

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