Something Wicked This Way Comes

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Few American novels written this century have endured in th heart and mind as has this one-Ray Bradbury's incomparable masterwork of the dark fantastic. A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show's smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes -- and the stuff of nightmare.

Curriculet Details
95 Questions
79 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 8th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining imagery, humor, and diction. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about traditions and family bonds. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of growing up, exploring the world, and true friendship. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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This prologue is pretty short. Let's try to see what we learn here. We learn the setting (end of October), a bit about two characters (James and William), and finally we get a little sample of what the book will be about (growing up overnight). When we get to the final chapter, we can see how this prediction in the last sentence comes true. 

Homework #8

Is this a simile or metaphor? Need a refresher? Watch the short video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
When the authors says that the salesman was "grieved by his own conscientiousness," it means 
Does the salesman expect the boys to know the answer to these questions, or is he asking a series of rhetorical questions?  (This annotation contains a video)
Using the information you have gathered from earlier in the text, answer this question. How does Tom Fury know where lightening will strike? 

Homework #9

Jim would most likely want to read a story about 
Dante Alighieri was a thirteenth- and fourteenth-century author who wrote a famous book called The Divine Comedy. The book is divided into three parts, and it is so long that each part stands alone as its own book. The first part of the book follows the journeys of Dante through hell. The book is famous for many reasons, but it was written in Italian over 700 years ago, so it's a tough read. Watch the video below for a good summary.  (This annotation contains a video)
The author uses the words "they perambulated" to suggest that the characters are  
Even though Will describes them as huckleberries, the words goose bump or goose pimple might be more familiar to us. 

Homework #10

Reread this portion of the passage. What type of person is Charles describing in this section? 
What does Charles hope to find when he drinks? 

Homework #11

The coming storm should make you feel uncomfortable. Something is coming, and it isn't very good. The author is setting the tone and mood for the next plot point using rich descriptive language, like the type found in this paragraph.  (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language is the author employing here? 
The swirling lines on the barber pole is a staple found outside many barber shops, even today.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #12

Look at the text before and after this sentence to find context clues to determine the meaning of the word "incongruous." When the narrator states that the song is "incongruous," he is stating that the song is fits the fall season well. 
Have you heard this Christmas tune before?  (This annotation contains a video)
What does Charles see when he looks at the block of ice? 

Homework #13

Here, the narrator is relating an event from earlier in the summer so we can see the conflicted desires of the two boys. The author uses the flashback technique. Will wants to run away, but Jim is fascinated and wants to stay and watch.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why are the books wet? 

Homework #14

Taking into consideration the tone and mood set by the upcoming storm, do you think this late-season carnival will be a fun experience for these boys? Let's read on to find out. 
Who has seen the most beautiful woman in the world so far in this book? 
Earlier in the story, Jim says he heard some music in the distance. Calliopes are steam pressure powered whistles played like a piano. They were quite popular on riverboats and at circuses.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #15

The best way to describe Will's feelings here is to use the word 
So far, many of the ideas, characters, or things presented in this book are set in opposing pairs. Two characters that are set off in contrast to one another are called foils. Watch the video below to learn more...  (This annotation contains a video)
From what you learned in this passage, what does this dialogue between Will's mother and father reveal about why the relationship between Will and his father? 

Homework #16

According to Jim, which boy has seen more of the world? 
This marks the beginning of some revelations about Jim and his family. Pay attention to what is revealed in this dialogue, and at the end of the chapter, you should know why Jim's mother is so protective of him. 
Why does Jim want to take the lightening rod off the roof? 

Homework #17

A valise is another name for a leather suitcase or tote. Why would his suitcase be nearly empty? (This annotation contains an image)
Identify TWO examples of figurative language on this page and explain each example's meaning.  

Homework #18

The word "semaphore" here refers to the system of using flags to communicate across long distances. It is still widely used in the military today.  (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language is being used to describe the calliope here? 
Can we look at the fact that the carnival train is using church music but changing it as an omen of things to come? Perhaps the author is suggesting that the train is the opposite of church: evil. We can look at this as foreshadowing. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #19

Explain in one or two sentences what this kite metaphor illustrates about Jim and Will?  
"Shriek" is an example of onomatopoeia. The author is appealing to sight, touch, and sound all in close proximity, but mainly this section of the text is focused on sound.  (This annotation contains a video)
From the description of the man on the train, which of the following is the best example of foreshadowing? 
Write one or two sentences to compare the sound (or auditory) imagery Bradbury uses as the circus approaches to the current sound (or auditory) imagery as the circus begins to set up. 
The tent for the carnival was constructed from metal tent poles and canvas. It had to be large enough to house a circus show.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #20

The time between midnight and 3am is called the witching hour. This is the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and 3am is the time called the devil's hour.  (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following are signs that Charles feels uncomfortable with the arrival of the carnival? 

Homework #21

Summarize the thoughts going on in Charlie's mind that prevent him from being able to fall asleep? 

Homework #22

Why are the boys sick to their stomachs? 
The ominous tone is starting to fade away. The skies are blue, the air smells sweet, and the carnival seems normal enough. Do you think this is a turning point in the novel? Let's read on to find out if there is more to this carnival than meets the eye. 
As it is used in this sentence, the term "quilled up" most nearly means 

Homework #23

What ongoing imagery do we see associated with the mirror maze? 
Jim is a little different after visiting the mirror maze. Let's make some notes on how Jim has changed. This could be an important plot point in the story. 

Homework #24

What character is associated with a leather satchel? 
Have you ever been in a mirror maze? The experience of seeing tens and hundreds of reflections can be quite disorienting.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #25

As it is used in this sentence, the word "hoisted" most nearly means 
The italicized parts of the conversation with Mr. Dark are unspoken. They are also examples of 
Death watch beetles prefer to live in woods on wood timbers of houses. They tap the wood while looking for mates, leading to a late night tapping. The name comes from the fact that people on their death beds and the people attending to them would hear the tapping all night, leading to the superstition that death watch beetles are waiting for the person to die.  (This annotation contains an image)
If you remember back to the Adam and Eve story in the bible, the devil disguised himself as a snake to tempt Eve to eat the apple. Is it good or bad that Mr. Dark showed Jim a tattoo of a snake then?  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how you can use context clues to determine the meaning of the word "tumults" in this sentence. Then, suggest another word you could put in its place.  
Mr. Coogar now appears to be younger than Jim or Will. Why did he make himself younger in the first place. Let's look for textual evidence to figure out why he made himself twelve years old as we continue reading. 

Homework #26

If Mr. Cooger is forty when he gets on the carousel, and twelve when he gets off, 40 minus 28 equals 12.  
Which word would be a good substitute for the word "plunged"? 
Using evidence from the text, explain why Will thinks the boy is evil. 
Despite the fact that the author has not described one drop of rain, water imagery is abundant throughout the book. Water seems to be a symbol, but we will have to continue reading to figure out what it is a symbol of, exactly. (This annotation contains an image)
Will feels agony over 
The phrase "what's eating you" is an idiom. It is not meant to be taken literally.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #27

Jim doesn't come to the window. Is it possible that Jim left for the carnival without Will? Support your answer with evidence from the text. 

Homework #28

A boardwalk is an old fashioned walkway, used to create walking paths before sidewalks became popular.  (This annotation contains an image)
What do Jim and Will use for a musical instrument? 

Homework #29

What metaphor is being used to describe Jim here? 
Riding the carousel backward takes off years, so it makes sense to assume riding it in its normal way (forward) would add years. Will has figured out part of Jim's motivation for wanting to return to the carnival. 
Use evidence from the text to explain in one or two sentences why the two boys are fighting here. 
Will is the rabbit. We just saw Jim compared to a cat. Who is the black otter? It must be Cooger, who ran in the other direction after throwing the jewelry on the boys. 

Homework #30

Cooger is stuck on the carousel because it is now moving too fast for him to jump off. 
As it is used here, the word "agonized" most nearly means 
Cooger now looks like something found in museums wrapped in bandages: he looks a bit like someone who has been mummified!  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #31

Here, Bradbury is describing the people in the freak show tent: a thin man, a fat man, a two little people (he calls one a midget and the other a dwarf). Reread the paragraph again. What kind of feelings do you associate with these characters? We are about to meet more freak show characters on the next page. Will they be helpful or will the go against our protagonists Will and Jim?  (This annotation contains a video)
How did the circus people cover up Mr. Cooger's body? 
We have seen the word dust and other references to earth and dirt scattered throughout the story. Now we meet a Dust Witch! Dust is a symbol in this novel. It might be linked to the idea of dust and death: when our bodies decay they turn to dust. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, as they say.  
What is Will seeking forgiveness for? 
The electricity coursing through the chair matches the electricity the boys and the police felt before the chair was activated. What do you think will happen with Mr. Electro?  (This annotation contains an image)
Carefully examine this sentence. "Yelled himself hoarse" is an example of an idiom. 
Why does Mr. Dark say Cooger lives with lightning? Explain your answer in one or two sentences using evidence from the text for support.  
Simon called Peter is one of Jesus's disciples. Simon Peter is famous for lying during Jesus's crucifixion. Do you think that this lie from Jim is an allusion to the biblical lies told by Simon Peter?  (This annotation contains an image)
Part I Quiz 

Homework #33

Does Miss Foley know what happens to people who ride the carousel? Please explain, and support your answer with evidence from the text. 

Homework #34

The word "interne" has several different meanings. As a verb, it means to confine. As an adjective, it means old. Used as a noun, it is a person undergoing medical training to become a doctor. It can be spelled intern or interne. Now it makes sense why there were medical doctors in training: the boys said that someone was dying. (This annotation contains a link)
Why won't the police believe Jim and Will? 
One of the famous stories in the Bible, that of Noah and the biblical flood, has all the animals going into the ark two by two. Despite the fact that Jim has accused Will of being overly religious in the past, we have to wonder if that is true. Perhaps Will wasn't listening very well to the sermon, or perhaps this is Bradbury's way of a biblical allusion that is making things just a little different.  

Homework #35

Following Charles Halloway's train of thought here, why does asking permission making sneaking out "count" less? Explain your answer in one or two sentences.  
Why does Will confess to the police? 

Homework #36

One of the themes in this story revolves around the concepts of being a hero. Let's watch how this theme emerges and see if Charles's words hold true by the end of the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Will's conversation with his father starts by talking about good vs. sin, and then takes a twist, but eventually returns back to talking about what it means to be a good person. 
Both Will and his father sense the danger of the carnival. Both told the other to stay away. Yet we know both characters are going to need to return for some reason or another. Let's look for clues as to why Will and Charles are forced to return to the carnival as the story continues. 
What makes Will feel comfortable again? 

Homework #37

This is the second appearance of the Dust Witch. The fact that she is searching for the boys in a balloon is a good sign that she is a powerful character and, possibly, and important protagonist. Her hunt for the boys continues to drive the plot of the story. Let's make sure to take notes on her and her actions as we continue to read. 
All of the following are good reasons for the Witch to be the one hunting the boys except 
As snails move along, they leave a trail of mucus behind, kind of like the image shown below. Typically it appears silvery due to its chemical makeup. It's no wonder that the simile Bradbury uses here to get us to envision the mark left by the witch is one for a snail. (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #38

Why does Will want the Dust Witch to come back? 
The author gives us a pretty vivid description of the hot air balloon the witch is riding in. What is the significance of describing the balloon as slime green? Why would he include the description of the pictures on the fabric? The author is using very detailed concrete imagery to help us draw a picture in our mind.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Will turn his back to the witch? Explain your answer in one or two sentences using evidence from the text.  

Homework #40

What type of figurative language is being used to describe the rain here? 
Some people believe that dreams foretell the future. Let's see what Jim dreams and if it will come true (or if it already has come true).  
According to the text, why does the girl wait to look up? 
Can you piece together who the little girl is yet? The author is building suspense here... We have a suspicion who it might be, but we don't know for sure. 
Will has a theory about why the carnival uses the carousel on Miss Foley. Explain Will's theory in one or two sentences.  
So maybe it's wasn't a funeral after all ... Was Jim's dream a glimpse of the future then? 

Homework #42

The author calls it a grille, but you might know it as a sidewalk grate.  (This annotation contains an image)
As it is used in this sentence, the word "facsimiles" most nearly means 
What does the term "Thrrnimmmmm" describe here? Explain your answer in a full sentence.  

Homework #43

This is a clear example of dramatic irony. The reader knows where the boys are; the fact that the skeleton man is standing right over their hiding spot adds tension to this scene in the book.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Will know the dwarf is Mr. Fury? 
Will's heroism streak is extending to protect his father. Do you think it is heroic of Will to try to save his father from harm, or would it be better to get an adult involved? The only way to find out is to read more of the story. 
Why does Mr. Dark say he is looking for Will and Jim? 
Puff adders and sidewinders are both types of snakes with poisonous venom. We have heard Mr. Dark associated with a snake before, but that snake tattoo we first heard about is covered up at this moment. Still, the author continues to draw comparisons between Mr. Dark and serpents.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the wet thing that strikes Will in the face and where did it come from? Explain your answer in 1-2 complete sentences, using evidence from the text. 
Will's father doesn't smoke cigars (he smokes a tobacco pipe at home), but he felt drawn to the cigar shop before he met Mr. Dark. Now let's read on to figure out how the cigar he bought will play into the plot. 
How has Will's view of his father changed since he first saw him as he was hiding in the grille? 

Homework #45

A catacomb is a fancy word for an underground passage, and it is often associated with underground crypts and tombs. This kind of setting just adds to the creepy mood of this story. Even the library seems to be a scary place!  (This annotation contains a link)
Saying this was the "longest day of all the days" is an example of a(n) 
This quote comes from the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In the fourth act, a group of witches anticipate the arrival of the main character, the murderous Macbeth. One of the witches says she can feel Macbeth's approach, the something wicked that is coming, because her thumbs feel prickly. Charles, Will, and James, likewise, feel that something evil is happening with the carnival.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #46

What is the simile being used here? 
Why does the group resort back to whispers? 
Jim thinks it couldn't be the same men, but he forgets about something at the carnival that lets them control their age ... 
Mr. Halloway considers himself an autumn person because he doesn't want to be a summer person. 

Homework #47

Charles Halloway is going to use reasoning to solve this problem with the carnival. But how do you reason against a Dust Witch and a magic carousel? Perhaps we will learn the answer soon. For now, let's look for clues on how Charles and the boys can use reasoning to defeat the carnival. 
Charles solution to fixing their issue involves closing the carnival early. 
According to Charles explanation, why does the carnival need people to be "bad" in order to operate? 

Homework #48

If the carnival is looking for people like this, which characters would the carnival most be looking for? 
Charles is explaining to the boys that the carnival gathers souls by threatening death. Although the carnival isn't the cause of death, they remind people about death and scare people into submission.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which character is going through what Charles is describing here at this point in the story? 
Will is listing off some of the idea from folk tales like those involving werewolves and vampires, but he forgets that the carnival people aren't superstitions. They have been transformed through their own bad thoughts and actions. Holy water and crosses or silver bullets and mirrors won't save they town.  (This annotation contains an image)
The final sentence of this chapter makes the reader want to turn the page. The pace of the book is quickening. Does it make it more interesting?  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #49

The word "barked" has a specific meaning. It means more than just saying something and less than screaming something. List three other words you could use in place of the word barked that have a similar meaning. 
The King James version of the Bible was the third translation of the Bible into the English language, but it surpassed all others in popularity for hundreds of years.  (This annotation contains a video)
After Mr. Dark reaches fifteen, what does Charles lose forever? 

Homework #50

Mr. Dark brings temptation into the mix again. First he temps Charles with growing younger, and now he tempts Jim with growing older. Does he have anything to tempt Will with? Let's read on to find out. 
Why do you think Mr. Dark is telling this story about Will's mother? What does he hope will happen when he tells this story? Explain your answer in two or more sentences using the text for support.  

Homework #51

Is it surprising the Charles Halloway resorts to violence to protect his son? Why or why not? Use evidence from the text to support your answers.  
Charles Dickens was a major British author of the nineteenth century. He wrote many famous novels, among them are The Tales of Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations. In Great Expectations, the main character, Pip, has a run-in with a convict and saves his life in the first chapter, and later finds his entire life intertwined with this convict... And that is only one of the coincidences in the novel! All the pieces of a Dickens novel always seemed to come together, leaving no loose strings--and no lack of strange coincidences.  (This annotation contains an image)
There is an actual chameleon lizard on Jim's nose at this moment.  

Homework #52

Just chapters before, Charles considered himself an old man. Has his brief interaction with Mr. Dark changed his views on old, or is this temporary insanity on account of his broken hand? 
Why is the witch trying to stop Charles's heart? 
Part II Quiz 

Homework #54

Why does the narrator call Jim and Will "good machines" here? 
We should make note of Mr. Dark's plans for Jim and Will here. The plan for both boys involves making them ride the carousel, but each would ride it differently. We return again to the idea of Jim and Will being literary foils. 

Homework #55

As it is used here, the word "titanic" most nearly means 
The Waxworks here is referring to a wax museum. People, animals, and objects carved out of wax, if done well, can appear eerily life-like. The video below shows the production of a Lady Gaga wax figure for a famous wax museum in London, Madam Tussaud's.  (This annotation contains a video)
It was suggested that all of the freak show people were once real people that were changed, like Tom Fury. Here we see that the Dust Witch was once a real woman. 
What is Charles Halloway volunteering to do? 

Homework #56

Medusa is part of an ancient Roman fable. She is generally described as having the face of a hideous human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone. Without actually saying Mr. Dark's stare is hard enough to turn people into stone. Can you see how this is an example of a metaphor? (This annotation contains a video)
The word jovially can be replaced with the word joyfully here and the sentence meaning would not change. 
What is the metaphor used here to describe the carnival crowd? Explain your answer in one sentence or more.  
By revealing what happens in the bullet trick, Bradbury would appear to be taking the suspense out of the trick. But, interestingly, the fact that we know how the trick is supposed to go makes us suspect that it won't go according to plan. Bradbury continues to build tension through many different techniques as we build toward the climax of the story. 
Why does Charles put a "smile on the bullet"? 

Homework #57

So laughter and happiness killed the Dust Witch. Will this be the same fate for Mr. Dark? The only way to find out is to keep reading, but let's take special note to see if the same "bullet" can kill two birds. 
The word ________ is an appropriate word to substitute for the word sluices.  
Saying the lights were going blind is an example of onomatopoeia.  

Homework #58

The imminent attack of the images in the mirror maze adds tension to this portion of the story. Throughout the novel, Bradbury has been building up to the evil nature of the mirror maze. Now we might finally get to see what can happen in there. 

Homework #59

What does the cracking glass sound mean? 
Despite the fact that Will and Charles have defeated the mirror maze, there is still one more feat they must endure. Can they find Jim in time? 

Homework #60

Why does Will's father ask if the music is running backwards or forwards? We can follow the music itself and use it to make some assumptions about what is going to happen next in the plot. 
Which of the characters listed below would be most interested to know the carousel is moving forward? 
Summarize, in your own words, what Charles believes happened to Mr. Electro/Mr. Cooger. 
As it is used here, the word "draw" most nearly means 
Because the carousel is already moving forward, Jim must find a way to get on as it is moving. This continues to build tension, as just the act of getting on could hurt Jim.  
The first race was lost means that Will didn't catch Jim on the first try, and now Jim must circle back around before Will can try to get him. 
Jim has aged one year in the full circle he traveled. How long will it take Charles and Will to stop the carousel? The mounting tension makes it hard to stop reading, so keep going and let's hope that this is the last circle he makes! 
How much has Jim aged at the point where he ends his carousel ride? 

Homework #61

While we are waiting to see if Jim is dead, the author throws another bump into the plot. Before we can find out what happened to Jim, we now have a new character to puzzle out. Despite the fact that the first part of the book took place over two days, the author has changed the pace and drawn out the pace of the final day into two parts.  
Why does Charles want Jed to roll up his shirt sleeve? Explain your answer in one sentence or more.  
The Dust Witch was hurt by laughter and killed with a smile. Will Mr. Dark share the same fate? 
As it is used here, the word "conclave" most nearly means 

Homework #62

The push and relaxation being described here is probably something like CPR. Will is trying to save Jim's life, after all.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is type of figurative language is being used here? 

Homework #63

How does Charles plans to bring Jim back to life? 
The song "Swanee River," also known as "Old Folks at Home," was written in 1851 and today remains the official song of Florida.  (This annotation contains a video)
Using context clues, the word "minuet" implies 
Even Will's serious train of thought about how to tell Jim about his brush with death is interrupted by merry song. The mood of the book has suddenly shifted. No longer does the reader need to wait and look for signs of doom. Now is a time to celebrate. 
What is the reference to creation and the garden an allusion to? 
Here we see that the temptation of riding the carouse is real for Will. Like Jim, he does feel a desire to be slightly older. But after all the characters have been through, is it really a good idea to ride the carousel after all? 
The characters final encounter with Mr. Dark happened during the witching hour. 
Part III Quiz