Tabitha Tufkin is an ordinary twelve year old girl whose mother died due to a deceptively-written medicine disclaimer. The only relief Tabitha finds for her deep depression is to read the offending disclaimer until she finally yields to sleep. When she does gets to sleep, Tabitha's dreams are invaded by a mysterious couple dressed in frumpy clothes. In the dream-woman's extended hand is a green plastic card -- Tabitha wakes before an explanation is given. When Tabitha's "frumpy couple" dreams fade from memory, she makes an important discovery: word awareness begins to stir.

Tabitha's teacher is the first to notice the change; "Tabitha’s verbal awakening wasn’t lost on her teacher: red circles and slashes of correction were replaced by gushing comments of praise." Paul Tufkiin is Tabitha's father, and he must deal with both his daughter's new interest in words along with the "frumpy couple" who visit their home; and what about the Order Of Super Verbals business card they offered him? Unwilling to trouble his young daughter, Paul keeps the visit secret, claiming that the visitors were "pesky door-to-door salespeople." But Tabitha discovers an envelope the couple left on the doorstep: addressed to her and containing a plastic green card.

The mystery deepens when Paul is visited at work by a man claiming to be a literary agent, seeking to publish his daughter's book. But is he a real agent at all, or an Evil Super Verbal seeking to guide the fledgling SV toward his own dark purpose? There's plenty for Tabitha to learn as she's ushered into the underground world of The OSV, and there will be more than one encounter with the slippery "agent" for her to deal with. When the time is right, Tabitha is entrusted with a special holographic telephone which allows her (and other young SV's) to perform verbal interventions at a safe distance. But even armed with the special phone, Tabitha takes her life (and that of her father) in her hands when she confronts the person responsible for writing her mother's fatal medicine disclaimer.