The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable

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In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to turn thirteen.

Before then, they'll jump off a cliff, get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, forced to decipher mysterious coded messages, thrown into a giant vat of SPAM, and visit the world's largest . . . ball of twine!

There's more, but if we told you here, we'd have to kill you.

Megapopular author Dan Gutman brings on the excitement with an action-packed new series that's nothing short of dynamite. Join Coke and Pep on their quest to uncover just what it means to be part of The Genius Files . . . if you dare!

Curriculet Details
70 Questions
68 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining author's purpose, grammar, and textual connections. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about simile/metaphor and parallel structure. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of citing textual evidence, comparing characters, and identifying literary devices. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Homework #6

Watch the trailer for this book you are about to read. Get ready for an exciting journey! (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 1 - Coke and Pepsi

Which of the following was NOT on Coke McDonald's to-do list? 
Why would a kid named Adolf Hitler "have issues?" 
Coke and Pep (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 2 - Over the Cliff

Point Reyes Station, California  (This annotation contains an image)
What are Coke and Pep's summer vacation plans? 
How does Coke's view of his martial arts skill differ from Pep's view? 
Pep's memory of Coke's fight is an example of flashback. Flashbacks are interruptions that writers use to insert past events in order to provide background or context to the current events of a narrative. By using flashbacks, writers allow their readers to gain insight into a character’s motivation and provide a background to a current conflict. Dream sequences and memories are methods used to present flashbacks.  (This annotation contains a video)
Onomatopoeia is defined as a word which imitates the natural sound of a thing. It creates a sound effect that mimics the thing described, making the description more expressive and interesting. The word "bang" and "thunk" are examples of onomatopoeia. (This annotation contains an image)
Simile and Metaphor: Both compare two distinct objects and draw similarity between them. The difference is that simile uses “as” or “like” and metaphor does not. Watch the video for more information about simile and metaphor.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which literary device is used in this sentence? 

Chapter 3 - Flying

Point of view: Third person point of view is when the narrator does not participate in the action of the story as one of the characters, but lets us know exactly how the characters feel. We learn about the characters through this outside voice. Watch the video to learn more about point of view.  (This annotation contains a video)
From which point of view is this story written? 
The image shows two people BASE jumping in wingsuits. 
Where does Coke think the expression "hit the ground running" comes from? 

Chapter 4 - Home Sweet Home

Parallelism is the use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter. The highlighted text contains parallelism (or parallel structure) due to the use of "catching their breath, clearing their heads, and trying to comprehend." 
Have you ever used the excuse "I forgot" to get yourself out of trouble? 
How does Mr. McDonald differ from Mrs. McDonald? 
The Periodic Table of Elements  (This annotation contains an image)
What theory does Coke believe his research paper proves? Use textual evidence to support your answer. 
A newspaper headline for the Donner Party tragedy. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 5 - Dr. Herman Warsaw and The Genius Files

"He was rail thin" is an example of a _______________. 
What is significant about the manifesto written by Dr. Warsaw? 
How important is this detail in the story? How does this help you understand the story better? 
This is a video created using the Armour hot dog jingle. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 6 - Detention

How are Jimmy Erdman and Coke different? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger  (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT true of Mrs. Higgins? 
What do you think an "olfactory hallucination" is? Olfactory pertains to the sense of smell. A hallucination is a sensory perception that does not exist, or a delusion. So, having an olfactory hallucination is when you think you smell something but you really do not. Coke tells Pep this because he does not think she really smells smoke. 
Which of the following can women do BETTER than men? 
Battering rams are used by law enforcement officials to enter buildings. Here is an image of a modern day battering ram. They have evolved throughout history. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 7 - The Science of Fire

What is odd about the fact that the blue part of a flame is hotter than the red part? 
Noxious is an adjective that means harmful; injurious. 
"I don't mean to be a wet blanket" is an idiom that means 'a negative person who tends to ruin other people's good times.' An idiom is an expression or a phrase comprising of two or more words. An interesting fact regarding the device is that the expression is not interpreted literally. The phrase is understood to mean something quite different from what individual words of the phrase would imply. Therefore, the phrase is interpreted as figurative language. 
Who does Bones think set the fire? 

Chapter 8 - In or Out

Why is Pep uneasy about Bones? 
Why does Coke trust that Bones is not lying about he and Pep being in The Genius Files? 
Ballistic is a multiple meaning word. One meaning pertains to projectiles, like bullets. Another meaning is "very angry." Based on the context of the sentence, which meaning is used here? 
What is Coke's reason for participating with The Genius Files? 
Quiz 1 

Chapter 9 - Welcome to the Family

What kind of equipment does Coke consider to be "real spy stuff?" 
An initiation ceremony is a ceremony in which a person is introduced into a society or club. 
Which literary device is used in this sentence? 
Frisbee (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 10 - Manifest Destiny

Based on the context of the sentences, what is the BEST definition of obliterated? 
Good readers create mental pictures as they read. Can you visualize the twins looking back and forth from one parent to the other as they argue? 
What reason does Dr. McDonald give Coke for having him clean the toilet? 
"Easy as pie" is a popular idiom which is used to describe a task or experience as pleasurable and simple. The idiom does not refer to the making of a pie, but rather to the act of consuming a pie ("as easy as eating a pie") which is usually a simple and pleasurable experience. The phrase is often interchanged with "piece of cake," which shares the same connotation.  (This annotation contains an image)
What reason is given for the family waiting until the children are older to make a cross-country trip? 
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called "tweets". Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 11 - On the Road

Why does Coke want to show the note to his sister? 
"Foundation" is a multiple meaning word. One meaning is 'the lowest and supporting part of a wall.' However, here the word is used to mean makeup that girls put on their faces.  (This annotation contains an image)
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of elaborate. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for elaborate?  
Here is an image of a Rand McNally road atlas.  (This annotation contains an image)
"Born to be Wild"  (This annotation contains a video)
According to Pep, what is the difference between a "cipher" and a "code?" 
Go online and google Pez. You will find images of many different types of Pez dispensers. Below is a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser.  (This annotation contains an image)
What interesting fact does Coke learn about the Pez candy? 
How does Pep decipher the letter? 

Chapter 12 - Ups and Downs

Google Maps  (This annotation contains a link)
How long will it take the McDonald's to drive to Washington? 
There is a National Yo-Yo museum. It displays many specialty yo-yos, even yo-yos that hold World Records. The museum also hosts many yo-yo competitions. Below is a picture of the largest yo-yo in the world, located inside the museum.  (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video of some cool yo-yo tricks.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Coke encourage Pep to throw the Frisbee? 
"Oooof" is an example of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeic words represent sounds. 
What is the BEST definition of vague? 

Chapter 13 - The Second Cipher

Why is Dr. McDonald not used to driving the big RV? 
Image of Lake Tahoe  (This annotation contains an image)
Truckee, California  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Pep think there could be a Donner Party museum?  
Which of the following was NOT at the Donner Party Exhibit? 

Chapter 14 - The Singing Sand

Why do Pep and Coke bolt out of bed when they hear the word code? 
Use Google Maps to trace the McDonald's route. Go to and follow the instructions in the highlighted text on this page. (This annotation contains a link)
Parallelism is used in this sentence with "talking, singing, moaning." All of those words have the same -ing ending. 
Why do Coke and Pep fill the jar with sand? 
Can you identify this literary device? If you said onomatopoeia, you are correct. This is an example of onomatopoeia because it represents a sound. 
Using context clues, what is the BEST definition of the word littering? 
Alliteration refers to the use of the same consonant sounds in words. For example: Better butter always makes the batter better. In the highlighted text, the use of the letter "s" sound is repeated in several of the words. 

Chapter 15 - I'll Be Watching You

Based on the words in context, which is the BEST definition of the word "traumatized?" 
This article tells about the Nevada Shoe Tree and its history. You will also learn about other shoe trees around the country.  (This annotation contains a link)
What reason does Dr. McDonald give for not driving to see the shoe tree? 
What does the waitress mean by "it's our claim to fame?" 

Chapter 16 - Dads Gone Wild

Northern Utah and eastern Nevada are similar in that they are both ___________. 
Bonneville Salt Flats  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Dr. McDonald NOT care if he damages the RV? 
Why does Pep lie to her mother about knowing Bones and Mya? How do you think her mother would feel if she knew what Pep and Coke were trying to cover up? 
Go to and get directions for the McDonald's trip. (This annotation contains a link)
What causes a person to be able to float in the Great Salt Lake? 
Everybody in the family wants to get to the largest ball of twine for different reasons. Who has the most important reason for wanting to get there? 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 17 - An Extremely Large Ball of Twine

Which of the following is NOT an invention that came from Nebraska? 
What is Carhenge? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
Carhenge (This annotation contains an image)
A souvenir is an item of sentimental value, to remember an event or location. 
How do the people of Cawker City feel about living in the "home of the largest ball of twine in the world?" 
The highlighted sentence contains __________________. 

Chapter 18 - SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM

What problem could NOT emptying the holding tank pose? 
Why does Coke not give information about the state they just entered? 
At the entrance of the SPAM Museum stands a bronze statue commemorating the importance of hog farming.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is admission to the SPAM Museum free? 
Monty Python's SPAM song.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Coke feel powerless against the bowler dude? 

Chapter 19 - Process of Elimination

Click on the highlighted word and read the definition. Knowing what words mean will help you better understand what you are reading. 
What can you infer is the reason Dr. McDonald snaps his fingers? 
By the author's use of this comparison, we can infer that the twine ball in Germany is ____________ than the one in Darwin. 
Why does the German couple pronounce some words with a /z/ sound at the beginning? 
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of assassin. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for assassin? 
Make Predictions: What do you think Mrs. Higgins took out of her trunk? 
Which of the following traits embodies the American spirit? 
Would you agree that having human waste fall on your head would be disgusting? 
The comparison made in this sentence is an example of a _______________. 

Chapter 20 - Grounded

Make Connections: Have you ever done something foolish that made your parents angry? 
Why is Dr. McDonald so angry at Coke and Pep for driving the RV? 
A campground with "no amenities" would not have a swimming pool, Ping Pong table, WiFi, etc. So, the twins will have to find something to do to entertain themselves. 
What do Coke and Pep notice about the cipher? 

Chapter 21 - A Wrong Turn

Why is Coke upset once he and Pep decipher the code? 
The WORLD'S LARGEST LOON, the Minnesota State Bird, is found in Virginia, Minnesota.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Pep gasps when she sees one of the brochures? 

Chapter 22 - A Magical Night

A "trove" is a collection of things. So, a treasure trove would be a collection of treasure. 
Why is Coke mad at himself for not knowing that the House on the Rock was real? 
Visit The House on the Rock website to learn more about its attractions.  (This annotation contains a link)
What does Coke mean by "we're incapable of delaying our gratification?" 
Based on the details in the text, what is the mood in this part of the story? 

Chapter 23 - The House on the Rock

This is Coke's "mental video" of what has happened to them so far.  
During the 1940′s, a man named Alex Jordan discovered a 60-foot chimney of rock in the beautiful Wyoming Valley. It was here he decided to build a house on the sandstone formation called Deer Shelter Rock. Jordan built the house as a weekend retreat and never intended it to be a tourist attraction. However, people kept coming to see the architectural wonder they had heard about. Jordan eventually started asking for 50 cent donations. That was only the beginning. The 14-room house is the original structure of what is now a complex of many buildings, exhibits and garden displays. Below is an image of Alex Jordan. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video about imagery. Notice how the author's use of imagery helps you feel like you just entered The House on the Rock. (This annotation contains a video)
What are some things that Alex Jordan loved? 
Why does Mrs. Higgins's sweetness seem strange to Coke and Pep? 
Onomatopoeia is a word that represents a sound. Here, Mrs. Higgins makes the "aggg" sound when she hits the rope that Coke and Pep pulled across the hallway. 
Do you think this is really a mannequin? 
This room is called the Infinity Room. Do you recognize this room from the cover of the book? Why do you think the illustrator chose to put the Infinity Room on the cover?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 24 - The Infinity Room

What does Dr. Warsaw mean by this statement? 
Which literary device is used in this sentence? 
Make Connections: How do you think Pep feels about Dr. Warsaw, knowing he is the one responsible for everything that has happened to them? 
How does Dr. Warsaw know so much information about Coke and Pep? 
The highlighted word is an example of _________________. 
What is the name of the karate kick that Coke uses on Dr. Warsaw? 
"Let's blow this pop stand," is an idiom which means 'to exit or remove oneself from a less than exciting location or environment.' Throughout the story, Coke and Pep have used this saying when they were ready to leave a particular place. 

Don’t Miss The Genius Files

Which literary device is used in this sentence? 
Quiz 3 

About the Author

Watch the video to learn more about Dan Gutman.  (This annotation contains a video)