Made-up Words

I was in third or fourth grade when I wrote a story about a group of kids forming a club with a friendly alien.  With a treehouse. Treehouses where very important to me at the time.  Other than that, the story was a straight rip-off of “The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Around the World” in my “Young Folks Shelf of Books”. (I can’t believe I found the whole thing online.)  It’s about a group of children sailing around the world with a creature who was never identified as anything but “The Quangle-Wangle” which I assumed was an alien.  (It was mostly depicted as scary stick-arms and fingers poking out from behind other things.)

I remember deciding to make up a totally new word for MY alien.  (The completely awesome word “quangle-wangle” being taken.)  I knew it had to have an X or a Z in it, because those are the most alien letters after Q.


I wrote a few random combinations down, but nothing was working. I decided to start with an English word I liked and mix it up some.  I chose “banana”. There’s always been something a little alien about “banana”.

I added a Z, changed an a to an o, and viola! I had a totally new word no one had ever seen before:



I was so proud of my new word that I named the story “The Bonanza Gang” and I drew an elaborate title card for it.


Chloe was traced from an ad in the newspaper. She was “the pretty one”.  She had a twin sister traced from the same ad but colored in differently named Zoe.  Lisa was the main character, my default image of a perfect kid. Smart, athletic, popular and blonde.  There may also have been a boy.  And Bonanza, of course, who had a rainbow nose and lots of tentacles.  The story opened in the treehouse with everyone declaring that they were bored and Bonanza suggesting a trip around the world because he’s never seen it.

He then asks them questions like, “What is bored?”

I spent days tracing Zoe and Chloe and filling in Lisa and Bonanza – who, as a shapeshifter, was really easy to draw.

That weekend we went to K-mart to pick up some random supplies.  As I ran down the art supplies aisle (my favorite) I found a big, rainbow-colored package of “Bonanza Markers” for sale.

Bonanza. They’d even used my block lettering.

Those bastards had stolen my word!


I screamed my fury at anyone who would listen – which was no one.  Finally a friendly neighbor told me, “Kid, that word has been around forever. There was a TV show called ‘Bonanza’!”


“It was about cowboys. Check a TV Guide.”

Cowboys?? Talk about insult to injury!  It turned out the show was still on in re-runs on Sunday afternoons, opposite Star Trek. I watched the opening credits with blank disbelief.

The moral of the story: google your made-up words.

Okay, past-me had no Google, but you get the idea.  Any handy adult or the dictionary could have saved me from betrayal and fury.

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