Life As We Knew It
I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open. High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like "one marble hits another." The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut! Susan Beth Pfeffer has written three companion novels to Life As We Knew It, including The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon.
The curriculet is being added to your library
Which best describes Miranda's attitude toward her stepmother and the baby?
In many Christian denominations, a godparent is a person who sponsors a child's baptism. These days, a godparent can be a more casual role-- a person who protects and cares for the child along with its parents. In this image, the godmother is holding the baby during her baptism. (This annotation contains an image)
This story is told from which point of view?
The dates tell you that this story is written in the form of a diary. How does the diary style affect the story and what the character chooses to reveal? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT something difficult that is giving Miranda stress?
Asteroids frequently collide with the moon, leaving craters and occasionally making impact clouds that can be seen from Earth. The image below shows the locations of asteroid collisions on the moon in 2013. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes most of the characters' attitude toward the asteroid?
What does the highlighted detail "I Googled it" tell us about the setting of the story?
Mood and tone are words used to describe the feelings created by a piece of writing. Mood is the feeling that the piece creates in the reader, while tone is more like "tone of voice," or the way the author creates a feeling. This video shows you a little more about mood and tone. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the mood in this chapter change from beginning to end?
The highlighted sentence is an example of what kind of figurative language?
Throughout history, people have looked up at the sky and wondered about it. In this image, from the 11th century Bayeux tapestry, you can see people looking up in amazement at Halley's Comet. (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly describe the contrast between how the author set up the scene ("it was like a big block party") and the feeling now, just after the asteroid hit.
In disaster situations, pay phones are often overloaded when lines and cell towers are damaged. Here, people in New York wait to call after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. (This annotation contains an image)
Make a prediction about what the broadcaster just heard over his earphone. Support your idea with evidence.
A tsunami is an extra-large wave that is usually caused by an underwater earthquake or tropical storm. This short video shows a tsunami caused by an earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. (This annotation contains a video)
This map of the eastern seaboard shows states likely to be affected by Atlantic tidal waves (tsunamis). (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, transfixed most likely means
Examine the cover image from this book. What does it symbolize? Do you think this is a good cover design for this book? (This annotation contains an image)
The word "catastrophic" most likely means
What might be causing the lightning storms that are hitting the town? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes how the author is developing Miranda's character?
A rush on stores is common after a disaster. Here, people stock up in a grocery after a flood affected their town. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the best evidence that Miranda's mother is really worried?
Why did Campbell's Soup's popularity make Miranda's life easier?
Compared to most of the other shoppers, Miranda seems
Oil lamps have been used for thousands of years. A candle wick, soaking in a pot of oil, can burn continuously for hours. These Victorian-era lamps may be similar to the ones Miranda found in the antique store. (This annotation contains an image)
By now, It's clear that the primary conflict in this book is
Offshore oil refineries are structures built to pull oil from underwater. In floods, like the ones described in this book, the offshore "rigs" would have disappeared under the water. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Miranda compare fast-food restaurants to the moon?
During wartime, when resources were diverted to the military, citizens at home were restricted to buying only certain amounts of items such as meat, eggs, sugar, and gasoline. A system of stamps showed how much of each you could buy. This short newsreel explains more about this system. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following best describes the difference between Miranda's attitude toward the current situation and her mother's attitude?
Do you think the principal really believes that everyone will "pull through?" Why do you think she's making this speech? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the best description of Megan's perspective of the disaster?
By looping yarn around a crochet hook, you can weave useful or decorative things. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the function of this highlighted quote from the story?
During wars or prolonged natural disasters, examining the list of the dead is a sad ritual for many of the living. Here is a list of WWII dead that appeared in a Washington state paper. (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, what does the phrase "on the cusp" mean?
A flowering bean tree. (This annotation contains an image)
Matt is an important character because
Think about how the value of something changes when you no longer have easy access to it. What foods or items would you take for granted that you would miss after a disaster? (This annotation contains an image)
People deal with disasters in different ways. Which of the following sayings would Megan probably agree with?
This book is an example of dystopian fiction, a genre that seeks to shed light on our own society by exploring what it might look like after a terrible disaster or a drastic change in government. Other examples of dystopian fiction include "Brave New World," "1984," "The Hunger Games," "The Giver," "Ender's Game," and "Divergent," among many others. (This annotation contains an image)
This highlighted sentence shows that Miranda's mother
What does counting the blankets symbolize for Miranda?
Many mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus, and EEE, are very dangerous if untreated. Mosquitoes thrive in wet, warm weather. This clip from TED explains the dangers of mosquito-borne illness. (This annotation contains a video)
The scene where Miranda kisses Dan for the first time shows which of the following themes?
Swaddling clothes are blankets or cloth used to wrap small babies tightly to keep them still and protected. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the biggest change that's happened to Miranda since the disaster? Use textual evidence in your answer.
What does the pond represent for Miranda? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best describes how the author develops the plot of this story?
A television set with "rabbit ears." (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the effect of the two highlighted sentences. What do they do to the mood of the story?
This scene recalls the food lines during the Great Depression of the United States, when hungry people would wait for hours for rations. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe the two sides of this argument, Miranda's and her mother's. Which do you agree with?
Why do you think Mrs. Nesbitt is so important to Miranda's mom? Why is she the exception to the "family first" rule?
Which of the following best summarizes Jonny's worries?
Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote novels about the British upper classes such as "Pride and Prejudice", "Emma," and "Persuasion." Her characters often "pay calls" (visit) others. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize Megan's perspective on God's plan for her. Use details from the text in your answer.
Verbal irony, which you may recognize often as sarcasm, is when you say something contradictory to what you mean. This video explains verbal irony. (This annotation contains a video)
Describe the verbal irony in the two highlighted sentences.
Laundry during a rainstorm. (This annotation contains an image)
There's a legend that says that if you put a frog in water, then slowly heat the water to boiling, the frog won't notice it's heating up until it's too late. Though not true, it's become a metaphor for slow change: "We're just frogs in boiling water." In the next question, describe how this idea of the frog compares to the way the author is developing this story. (This annotation contains an image)
Read the annotation above before answering: In what way are the characters like "frogs in boiling water?"
Ash can indeed block out the sun, preventing crops from growing and lowering the temperature. This eerie photo, from an Icelandic volcano in 2011, is of ash covering the sun in what would have otherwise been broad daylight. (This annotation contains an image)
Boiling water long enough kills all bacteria, making even polluted water safe to drink. (This annotation contains an image)
Connotation means "the feelings that accompany certain words." Connotation has a lot to do with culture and experience. For example, naming a car a "Thunderbird" connotes power and noise, while naming a different car an "Insight" connotes environmental safety and intelligence. The words "oil lamps," "old yarn," and "crocheting" connote what kind of feeling/lifestyle?
Summarize the new fear that Miranda develops about her mother's actions.
Piles of gathered kindling, ready for winter fires. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Miranda and her mother are so upset with each other? Make an inference and support it with evidence from the text.
Why is Sammi going south to Nashville with George?
Rocky road fudge. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted sentence shows that
With no refrigeration, all the food has to be shelf-safe - in cans, bottles, and packages. (This annotation contains an image)
The situation causes a lot of changes in the family's lifestyle. Which of the following is NOT something they are doing to survive the disaster?
During a disaster, hospitals and emergency centers are pressed into service for many people. (This annotation contains an image)
West Nile virus, spread by mosquitos, acts like the flu and can be fatal. (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly summarize why Dan is leaving.
How is this dinner party similar to and different from any family dinner? (This annotation contains an image)
How has Miranda's attitude toward her dad, Lisa, and the baby changed since the beginning of the book?
Why is Matt so angry?
What would you do? Would you stay or leave? Support your opinions with reasons from the story.
A "killing frost" refers to an early frost that kills off crops. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the reasons why Megan wants to end her friendship with Miranda.
What surprised Miranda about Jonny's birthday?
A town hall meeting like the one Miranda is attending. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the changes that will be happening in the school.
Tiny desks and chairs in a kindergarten classroom. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the most urgent problem facing the family?
What are the boys with guns trying to do?
Do you think this new world is less safe for women than men? Why or why not? What is your reaction to this quote?
Cornell University, a prestigious university in Ithaca, New York. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following describes the tone of the highlighted sentences?
Why is Ms. Sanchez encouraging everyone to go to the high school instead of staying at Maple Hill?
Why is Miranda stealing school supplies?
The season and the ash cloud are bringing the temperatures down. (This annotation contains an image)
This scene makes which point about hunger?
Do you think the chocolate chips were worth this punishment? (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Miranda's mother's punishment was fair? Why or why not? Use evidence from the text in your answer.
Refugee camps are places where people fleeing dangerous situations live temporarily. Sometimes a host country or state sets them up, and sometimes they are constructed by refugees themselves. They're often shoddy, temporary places with few services. This image is of a refugee camp in Beirut. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you agree with the highlighted sentence? Why or why not?
Why are the guards laughing at her? (This annotation contains an image)
A woman's ankle wrapped in an Ace bandage. (This annotation contains an image)
Although surgical masks are of course named for their use in hospitals, people in many parts of the world use them to protect themselves from pollution and disease. (This annotation contains an image)
How will Mom's sprained ankle probably change the story?
Propping up a sprained ankle. (This annotation contains an image)
Cornrows. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is true about the highlighted section?
What did people say had happened to Michelle Schmidt?
The word "nostalgia" refers to fond memories of earlier times. Why do you think Miranda is feeling nostalgic here?
Which of the following meanings of the word level fits best in this sentence?
"Black market" products, or "products sold on the black market," refer to things that are sold outside of stores and without regulation. This is illegal in most parts of the United States and the world. (This annotation contains an image)
This picture from Chile shows a man covering his face after a volcanic eruption to protect his lungs from the dangerous ash. (This annotation contains an image)
Miranda's haircut shows that
Make a prediction: What do you think happened to Megan? (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted sentence is an example of what figurative device?
Which of the following does NOT show that Reverend Wayne is corrupt?
This seems to contradict Mom's earlier statement that they needed to worry only about their own family. Why do you think she feels differently now? What do you believe? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how the author continues to use Miller's Pond as a place of escape and happiness for Miranda.
A camel spin, in figure skating, is a slow, graceful spin with one leg held out straight behind, slightly above the hip as shown in this video. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is the meaning of the word "shift" in this sentence?
A bedpan is a portable "toilet" that you can slip under a person who can't move. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how this conversation with Mrs. Nesbitt affects Miranda. Use evidence from the text in your answer.
These two sentences comparing Miranda to a rock are an example of
The family often calls Jonny "Jon" now. What does this symbolize?
Why does Miranda say she feels like a cannibal?
A treasure. (This annotation contains an image)
Miranda is worried about
Mom's reaction to Mrs. Nesbitt's death is
An heirloom brooch. A piece of jewelry is not likely to help the family survive. What is the purpose of these gifts? (This annotation contains an image)
Describe why Miranda thinks it's funny that Matt stayed home from the post office.
What is the effect of the shortened diary entries?
What function does this sentence serve in the story?
A color-by-numbers kit. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the blizzard surprising?
Barrels and trash cans collecting snow for usable water. (This annotation contains an image)
This simile comparing the blizzard to a snow globe shows which of the following?
Frostbite is a condition where layers of the skin freeze and are damaged. It can be mild, affecting just the top layers of skin, or much more severe if the freezing reaches deeper layers. This image is of mild frostbite, looking very much like a burn. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the hot chocolate have an ashy taste?
A pair of old wooden cross-country skis. (This annotation contains an image)
Common aspirin is a blood thinner and is often recommended as a once-daily dose for people with weak hearts. (This annotation contains an image)
How would the story be different if it was told from Miranda's mother's perspective. What would she be concerned about throughout the story?
Does it make sense for the family to conserve resources to save Jonny? Why or why not?
What did the family decide about their meals?
Many people who have written memoirs of surviving terrible things have written that their dreams and fantasies helped them through. What do you think? (This annotation contains an image)
On Christmas Day, 1914, German and British soldiers on opposite sides of World War I laid down their weapons and had a one-day truce. They sang carols and played soccer on the field of war. Compare this event with the Christmas described in this chapter. (This annotation contains an image)
Compare the WWI Christmas Truce (described in the annotation above) with Miranda's cautious Christmas with her neighbors.
A Google search for "Average American Christmas" turned up this image. Compare this picture to the Christmas Miranda's family is having. (This annotation contains an image)
What lesson did Miranda learn about Christmas?
New Year's Eve in New York City hosts a wild party, ending with a large, lighted globe "dropping" at midnight. (This annotation contains an image)
How did the tone of the story change in the last couple of chapters?
Miranda's mother thinks Mrs. Mortenson's illness may be
Deep snow covers a town in Alaska. (This annotation contains an image)
High fever can affect a person's brain, making them hallucinate and become confused.
How has the illness abruptly changed the story for Miranda?
The deadliest flu epidemic in history was in 1918, when the H1N1 flu infected 500 million people-- and killed 100 million of them. (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, the word flippant means
Miranda dealing with sick family members is the
Burning books. (This annotation contains an image)
This quote shows that
This abrupt change in tone shows that Miranda
What does Miranda know that her mother doesn't know?
This sentence shows that
After all the challenges, a set of stairs is an almost impossible barrier for Matt now. (This annotation contains an image)
Tulip bulbs, although they are usually used to grow the decorative flowers, are actually edible. (This annotation contains an image)
"The Olympics" in this scene is really
Radio is a good way to communicate in disasters-- the waves can travel great distances with very little power. (This annotation contains an image)
The electricity is a symbol of
Why does Miranda wish she hadn't looked in the pantry? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT true about Miranda's perspective in the story?
Explain why Miranda says her record will "[count] for a lot."
When Miranda says the paper "taunted [her] with its dance," this is an example of
A miracle! (This annotation contains an image)
Why is it important to Miranda to bring the food in herself?