Five Things About The Jolly Regina: The Dictionary (aka Dr. Snoote)


Art from The Jolly Regina, by the brilliant Jen Hill.


Hello, friends. As I mentioned yesterday, I thought I might take the next few days to give you a little behind-the-scenes of the process of writing my upcoming (and very first!) novel, The Jolly Regina — the first in a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. Today’s entry concerns Dr. Snoote, the Bland Sisters’ trusty dictionary and loyal companion.

At first, the dictionary was just a joke to me. It seemed funny that these two sisters would be entertained by reading dry definitions. But as I wrote the story, it became clear that Dr. Snoote was more than a dictionary; he was the Bland Sisters’ friend and even surrogate parent, as his definitions offered them comfort and provided them with a certain (however-limited) education. When they (*spoiler alert!*) ultimately give up Dr. Snoote, and decide to move on to other reading material, it’s a huge step for Jaundice and Kale — though in future stories, you can be sure Kale finds other unexpected books to obsess over.


  1. I wrote all of the definitions myself, after consulting several different dictionaries.
  2. I didn’t expect the definitions to be illustrated — that was Jen Hill’s idea, and I’m so glad she did it, as I think her artwork is hilarious.
  3. I have a prized dictionary. As you’ll see here, it’s a pretty unassuming copy of Websters Ninth New Collegiate.


What’s special about this dictionary is that I acquired it by, er, questionable means. When I was a senior in high school, my friends and I were granted access to many off-limits areas, including the English office (let’s just say that someone who may or may not have been moi came to possess one of our school’s master keys, which I may or may not still have, ahem). My friends and I were (mostly) good kids, so our version of naughtiness was to help ourselves to some dictionaries. I hardly ever use mine now, but it sits near my desk as a reminder of my youthful indiscretions. All things considered, I think it’s pretty appropriate that I pirated a dictionary, no?

[NOTE TO KIDS READING THIS: Do NOT steal. It’s very very bad behavior, and it will (almost) always be found out and punished.]

TOMORROW’S POST: A look at the crew of the Jolly Regina!





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