This first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the story. Right away we know two things: The story has magical characters and a wisecracking, no-nonsense narrator.
This author and others like Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and J.K. Rowling use humor and fantasy to create worlds that FEEL a lot like our world--but with magic! The use of the rusty Volkswagen and the name "Ununited Kingdoms" are supposed to evoke modern England. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is a character trait of Lady Mawgon, shown by her behavior and conversation?
Indentured servitude is a kind of labor system that was used widely in the 18th century British colonies of North America. A young person would "sell" several years of their own labor in advance, then work off their debt. This was a serious and often brutal system, but here Jennifer treats it lightly, making us assume that it is common in this world. (This annotation contains an image)
The Kazam Agency uses magic to
A foundling is an abandoned child. (This annotation contains an image)
A crinoline is a stiff hoop skirt usually worn as a slip under another skirt. Although Lady Mawgon dresses in "traditional" witches' clothing, she gets upset when someone pins a moon and stars to her gown. What does this say about Lady Mawgon? (This annotation contains an image)
Compare and contrast the world of this story with the real world. What has the author done to make this world seem "normal?" What has the author done to make this world seem wacky and magical? Use at least one example from the text for each.
Which of the following is true about the sorcery business in this book?
The Quarkbeast is a mysterious creature, a pet of Jennifer's. The author drops details about the beast's teeth, power, and general fearsomeness, but doesn't really describe it in detail, leaving readers to imagine it. How do you imagine the Quarkbeast?
For fun, check out this gallery, where readers sent in their own drawings of the Quarkbeast. (This annotation contains a link)
Tone is a very important part of a novel. Please watch the video below to learn about this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following best describes Jennifer's tone in the story?
A dilapidated hotel. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how the setting of the old hotel adds to your understanding of the characters and their situation. Use specific examples from the text in your answer.
The magical energy in Zambini Towers most resembles
The echo in Tiger's room is surprising because it is visual instead of audible! (This annotation contains an image)
Like all good parody, the author continually pokes fun at the real world by creating versions of real-life things with a silly or surreal twist. Instead of regular nuns, this book has the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster. Instead of driver's licenses based on age, this world gives them out based on maturity. Instead of the characters complaining about tax forms, they complain about the boring forms they have to fill out to do magic spells. Keep an eye out for magical-world versions of real-life things! (This annotation contains an image)
The testing numbers probably refer to
Which of the following is NOT a magical item which Jennifer introduces to Tiger?
In this story, a dragon's land is up for grabs when it dies. Literal land rushes were not uncommon during the "opening" of the American West, when the U.S. government allowed citizens to "claim" land as long as they got there first. This image is of a famous land run in Oklahoma in 1889. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is being a pre-cog, or prophet, often a burden?
Many magical stories have "good magic" and "evil magic," like this picture from "The Wizard of Oz." Jennifer's description shows that this world is different. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how the wizards organize themselves, using evidence from the text.
The Transient Moose. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the punishment for doing an unlicensed act of sorcery?
The introduction to a story usually contains exposition, or explanation, of the setting and the characters. Which of the following is true about the exposition so far in this story?
A klaxon alarm, with the classic "aroo-gah" sound heard in old car horns and fire alarms. (This annotation contains a video)
Turning lead into gold was a main focus of medieval alchemy, a kind of mixture of chemistry and attempted magic. (This annotation contains an image)
After the introduction to the story, the rising action is where the action "heats up." Several events so far show that something unexpected is about to happen in Hereford. List the events that suggest that something unusual is going on.
A landship is any large vehicle that travels on land, but it's usually used to refer to tanks or military vehicles. What might landships look like in this world? (This annotation contains an image)
Here the author is clearly poking fun at large corporations that use similar working practices. Describe a business in your community that is a real-world version of ConStuff.
Why does ConStuff want to know the time and date of the dragon's death?
A demilitarized zone is the strip of land between two countries that are at war. The war between King Snodd and the Duke of Brecon is important to this story. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT true about Mother Zenobia?
The image of a knight and a dragon facing each other down is an old one, but Mother Zenobia seems to take a practical, historical approach to the stories. (This annotation contains an image)
Jennifer's purpose in going to Mother Zenobia was to get information about the history of dragons and humans. What purpose does it serve for us?
A dray is a wheeled cart pulled by one or more horses, making a "dray-weight" probably the amount of gold that would fill the cart. (This annotation contains an image)
What are the "great land creatures" and "winged creatures" that Shandar refers to?
In the next few pages, you will see examples of metaphor and simile. Watch this video and be on the lookout for these literary devices. (This annotation contains a video)
"To go belly up" is an idiom that means "to die." (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the meaning of the highlighted metaphor. What is happening to the people of Hereford and the Ununited Kingdoms?
Patrick and the Childcatcher
The best meaning of reticence as used in this sentence is
The Childcatcher would be known in our world as a truant officer - a policeman whose job it is to round up kids who are skipping school and take them there. (This annotation contains an image)
Jennifer's reaction to the two policemen shows that
"Beating-around-the-bush" is an idiom that means "avoiding the real subject."
What is UKCB's attitude toward the dragon? Use at least three specific quotes from the text supporting your answer.
A flying carpet. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the highlighted section support a central theme of the story?
"Bach," used after a person's name, is a Welsh term of endearment.
A dunking (or ducking) stool was a device used to torture people suspected of witchcraft in the 17th century. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below on theme. Think about what you have learned when you answer the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
The argument between the sorcerors illustrates which theme of the story?
The association of newts with witches is widespread, from Shakespeare's "Macbeth" to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." (This annotation contains an image)
Do you agree with Tiger's decision to give the information to the media? Why or why not?
A train platform and rolling stock. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the author show us William of Anorak's character?
Why does William give Jennifer the information for free?
Pubs, or small bars, in England often have names like this. It comes from a time when places were identified with pictures of animals or objects, because most people couldn't read. (This annotation contains an image)
Every story of a hero has a moment when they recognize their calling. This is called, appropriately, the "Call to Adventure." Think of another story you've read with a hero (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or Spiderman are some examples, but you may choose your own). When did the hero of your story get their "Call to Adventure?"
A sword with a leather-bound hilt and adorned with a ruby. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT true about the dragons?
Ozone is a type of oxygen that is created by lightning and electrical discharges. It is the smell in the air when people say they can "smell a storm coming." Some describe it as smelling like water, or chlorine, or sparks.
(This annotation contains an image)
In the highlighted passage, Tiger predicts that Jennifer will be treated like
Marzipan, in our world, is a sweet candy paste made of almonds, but in this world the author suggests it can be used to run cars like gasoline, taken like alcohol or drugs, and used to build things! (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is NOT true about The Great Shandar in this scene?
The dragon's eye. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following does NOT suggest that Maltcassion is polite and non-threatening?
Using evidence from the highlighted section, identify and support a main theme of the story.
Does Maltcassion have a point? Do humans care less about reptiles and insects because they're not as "cute" and cause more fear? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Maltcassion's perspective on humans and animals?
In this sentence, the best meaning of endorse is
Now that Jennifer has begun on her adventurous path, she will deal with conflicts that get in her way. Analysis of literature separates conflict into different categories. This video explains the difference between types of internal and external conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
One theme of the story is the commercialization of Jennifer's new job and how she is offered chances to make money off of her new status. Keep an eye out for the author's commentary on fame and celebrity. (This annotation contains an image)
Every good story sees characters tackle conflicts. Some conflicts are external, like tackling a dragon or running from a tornado. Many conflicts are internal, where the character struggles with making a difficult decision. Name and briefly explain a conflict Jennifer is struggling with by this point in the story.
The descriptions of rich businesspeople and celebrities in this book show us Jennifer's attitude toward money and fame. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following summarizes Jennifer's attitude toward the offers of money and fame?
The Truth about Mr. Zambini
One of the author's little jokes is here in the names of several newspapers: "The Mollusc on Sunday," "The Clam," "The Daily Winkle." Combined with the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster, this society is a little obsessed with shellfish! It seems to be a bit of a contrast to Maltcassion's opinion that humans don't think highly of arthropods. Look for more references to sea creatures in the rest of the book.
Jennifer refers to the Great Zambini as
"Sallow" skin has a pale, yellowish tone. Describing someone as sallow usually suggests they are unhealthy. (This annotation contains an image)
Sometimes you may be asked to provide textual evidence to answer a question. Watch the video below to learn about this very important literary analysis skill.
(This annotation contains a video)
Briefly explain, using evidence from the text, what Moobin means by saying that Jennifer is no longer "a bystander," but "a player."
Another reference to marzipan! Now it seems to be behaving like crude oil. (This annotation contains an image)
His Majesty King Snodd IV
The text suggests that the king is
The fact that the lords "[like] to get on TV" supports which recurring idea in the story?
Jennifer always seems to have confidence, even when confronting the king! (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, the word grossly means
The United Kingdom has a complex social system of titles and honors. A Marchioness or Marquess is lower than a Duke but higher than an Earl. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following did Jennifer NOT learn from her visit to the king?
"Merchandising" is the marketing technique of making products branded with a certain person or company to increase sales. This happens frequently with movies, when suddenly you can buy shirts, toys, games, and even food with the movie title and characters all over it. (This annotation contains an image)
Is Jennifer's conflict about merchandising and "selling out" an internal conflict or a "man vs. society" conflict? Support your claim with evidence from the text.
This scene is a great example of an interviewing technique called "leading questions." A leading question traps the interviewee into answering a certain way. Examples are, "Does your mother know you meant to break the lamp?" "You weren't paying much attention that day, were you?" What leading questions does Yogi Baird ask Jennifer?
Briefly explain why Yogi Baird is so upset with Jennifer. Use evidence from the text in your answer.
What do you think of this idea of war-as-entertainment? Does our society ever use tragedy and conflict as a way to make TV popular? (This annotation contains an image)
Berzerkers originated in Norse (Viking) mythology. Powerful warriors that fought in an almost hypnotized, unstoppable state, they've appeared frequently in comic books and fantasy stories. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence is an example of hyperbole, or exaggeration for effect. What is the meaning of this sentence?
Which of the following quotes reveals a main theme of the story?
The prospect of war will likely make Jennifer's dilemma even more complicated. (This annotation contains an image)
Compare and contrast Jennifer's first impression of the Duke with her first impression of King Snodd.
Do you trust the Duke as much as Jennifer does? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the detective's perspective on what was found?
More examples of leading questions by reporters!
Idiom is a fancy word or something you already know about. You know those sayings you hear all the time...the early bird catches the worm... Watch the video below to learn more about this literary device.
(This annotation contains a video)
Jennifer has to decide between killing a polite and non-threatening dragon or letting her country go to war. Which of the following idioms is an accurate summary of her situation?
Make an inference about why the tax collectors are coming after Jennifer at this moment. Support your answer with reasonable evidence.
What is "the greater good?" Do you think, as Jennifer does, that sometimes you have to compromise what you believe for "the greater good?"
Which of the following is NOT true about Maltcassion at this moment?
What do you think the dragon's plan is?
These two sentences show that Jennifer thinks Villiers is
A lantern jaw: A wide, square jaw. (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, the word harboring means
The TV stations are indeed using the war for entertainment! (This annotation contains an image)
Escape from Zambini Towers
Pollyanna is a children's book about a young girl who always saw the bright side of everything. How does this connect to the power of the Pollyanna Stone? (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly describe how Jennifer got past the soldiers.
This book trailer for The Last Dragonslayer pictures this moment. Do you think this is a good representation? (This annotation contains a video)
In this sentence, the word beguiled means
Which quote from Gordon shows a main theme of the story?
Obsidian is a shiny black glass created in volcanic eruptions. It's unclear if this is a metaphor or if the Quarkbeast's teeth are really obsidian. (This annotation contains an image)
Now Jennifer has lost a friend on top of everything else. Make a prediction about what will happen next. Will she decide to kill the dragon? Or make a different choice?
The force field actually trapped the dragons inside. (This annotation contains an image)
Jennifer had to confront her
Every story follows this basic outline. The climax, or turning point, is the point where a character makes a crucial decision and then is changed forever. Look for evidence that Jennifer is a changed person after this turning point. (This annotation contains an image)
After the climax, the story enters the "denouement," or "falling action." This often has a relieving, "morning-after-the-storm" feeling, like this scene.
Grains of gold in sand. What does Mother Zenobia's metaphor mean? (This annotation contains an image)
How did greed set the dragons free? Why did they use greed instead of love?
A field left trashed after a gathering. (This annotation contains an image)