Review: Defining Twilight

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With the official opening of Twilight Saga: New Moon at 12:01 AM tonight (or, technically, tomorrow), I thought today would be the perfect day to post my review of Defining Twilight, the vocabulary book that Brianna has been using with her Twilight Study.  After I mentioned the book several weeks ago when we first started thinking of doing a Twilight study, its author, Brian Leaf contacted me to see if I’d like a copy of the book to review.

Um, yeah!  If having the author of a book you’ve blogged about read your blog, email you and offer to send you a copy of his book to review doesn’t give a blogger a head rush, nothing will.

So, Brianna began using Defining Twilight at the beginning of this month when we began our Twilight study.  She really likes it.  Did you read that?  My teenager is enjoying a vocabulary book I like it, too.  For the review, I asked her, specifically, what she liked and didn’t like about it.  I thought it was interesting that her answers matched mine.

We both like the very conversational style the author uses in the book.  He writes as if he’s speaking to the student and often throws in little tips as you go along through the workbook.  For example, in the definition for permanence, he points out, “Charlie registered Bella for school, so she must be staying for a while.  Using context is a great skill for the SAT, ACT, GED, SSAT, or any standardized test.”

And Mr. Leaf does an excellent job of demonstrating to the student how to use context.  Defining Twlight contains 40 groups of vocabulary words, eight per group, pulled directly and sequentially from Twilight, so you’re not flipping all through the book to find the words.  For each word, he gives the student the page number on which the word is found.  The very first thing the student is supposed to do is read the word, in context, and write down what she things it means based on how it’s used.

The second step is seeing how the student fared on inferring the meanings.  The next page defines the word, often giving tips or interest-based clues on how to remember it (such as, “inept means clumsy or incompetent, as opposed to Edward, who is graceful and skilled at everything”).  There are often other pop culture tidbits, unrelated to Twilight, to help the student make the connection, as well as your typical synonyms and antonyms.

For each group of words, there is also a drills section which covers synonyms, analogies, and sentence completion, giving the student not only a wide range of practice styles with the word groups, but also exposure to additional vocabulary and word usage.  Following the drills section are the solutions.  One thing I really like about the solutions section is that it doesn’t just give the students the answers, but it explains why the correct answers are correct.  For the analogies, it even shows why the incorrect answers are incorrect. There’s even a glossary at the back of the book for quick reference.

Defining Twilight is a fun way to learn vocabulary because, well, it gives you an excuse to read Twilight again, for one thing.  Stephanie Meyer has really done her readers a wonderful service by providing her characters an incredibly extensive vocabulary.  I’m a word junkie (I love those “word-a-day” desk calendars!) and there were lots of words that I had to look up to make sure I understood the meaning correctly.

Defining Twilight is also fun because it makes references to the book that readers can understand and relate to.  Previously being the only avid reader in my family, I have really appreciated being able to make Twilight references and have Brianna get what I’m saying.  Defining Twilight offers readers the same sense of camaraderie.

The only thing we didn’t like about Defining Twilight is that there’s not enough built-in practice with each group.  With each group of words it’s context, definition, drills, and solutions, then, on to the next group.  There is a quiz after every five word groups, but we’d like to have seen more time spent on each group of words — maybe a week’s worth of practice before moving on to the next group.  Of course, this is easily remedied by incorporating our own study techniques, but I bet Mr. Leaf could come up with more fun study methods than boring old Mom.

One slight inconvenience was the fact that sometimes the definitions were on the facing page with the page where the student is supposed to see if she can figure out the vocabulary definitions based on the context or the solutions page on the facing page with the drills.  Because Defining Twilight is a handy 8.5″ X 5.5″ size, I just had Brianna keep a folded sheet of paper in the book to mark her place and cover the answer page until she’d written in her definitions or completed the drills.

Defining Twilight is available at major bookstores for only $9.99.  Seriously, you can’t beat that price for this great little book filled with 600 vocabulary words straight for the phenomenal, best-selling book Twilight. And, as if that weren’t enough for a Twilight fan, Defining New Moon is now available as well!   Offering over 600 more words from the second book in the Twilight saga, Defining New Moon is sure to be as exciting a way to learn vocabulary as Defining Twilight for fans of the book.  I know we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy!

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Actual results may vary.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. What an amazing way to get teens to love their school work! I wish my girls were older to do these studies.
    LOVE your blog and I voted for you. ~ Mandie

  2. Kris,
    It sounds like you have a well-rounded Twilight study for your daughter already, but would you be interested in looking at my Bible study? Not to review on your blog, because it's unpublished, but just for your own use. You can let me know and I can send you the files. I'd just love to know someone who is really interested is using it.

    [email protected]

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