The Familiars #3: Circle of Heroes

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Aldwyn, a street-smart alley cat, pretended he had telekinetic powers so young wizard Jack would chose him as a familiar. Aldwyn then learned that he and two other familiars—Skylar the blue jay and Gilbert the tree frog—were destined to undertake a perilous quest to defeat Paksahara, an evil hare who’d been familiar to the queen.
In Circle of Heroes, the third book of The Familiars series for middle-grade readers, Paksahara and her undead animal army control the Shifting Fortress. Aldwyn and his friends have to recapture it to return magic to the queendom of Vastia.
Fans of The Guardians of Ga’hoole series and Erin Hunter’s Warriors books will love the mix of humor, magic, and animal adventure story in Circle of Heroes by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson.

Curriculet Details
43 Questions
50 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 6th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining unknown words, text-to-text connections and illustrations of characters. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about literary terms, textual connections and vocabulary. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of theme, plot details (comprehension), and vocabulary. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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1. Escape

What is the mood that the narrator is attempting to create through the highlighted description of the setting? 
Mood is a literary element whereby the piece of the literary piece evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions. 
Did you know that you can look up the definition of any word in the text? Select a word and choose the "Define" feature to read the definition. Is there a word on this page that you need help with? 
A synonym is a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in a given language. For example, a synonym for 'siege' is 'block-off.' 
Using context clues, choose the word that offers the best synonym for the highlighted word. 
The picture illustrates the use of a belt for a tourniquet. Tourniquets are used to constrict blood flow in an extremity. (This annotation contains an image)
The video below discusses situational irony. While watching, consider the irony currently present within the novel's plot. (This annotation contains a video)
Describe the irony present in the current situation. 

2. Beyond the Alabaster Wall

According to the text, what is needed in order to defeat Paksahara? 
The picture below is that of a hasp, which is often locked by way of a padlock. In the novel's case, it is locked by way of rust. (This annotation contains an image)
The video below discusses personification. An example of this literary device is present in the highlighted text. Magic, a non-human thing, is being given the ability to outshine something. (This annotation contains a video)
Choose the option that best describes the personification present within the highlighted text. 
A fallacy is a false or misleading notion or belief. This is important to understand at this point in time, because the speaker is calling into question the prophesies in Vastia. Can you think of another Vastian prophecy that may be called into question? 

3. The Inn of the Golden Chalice

Below is a picture of a newt. (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason would this newt want signatures from the trio? 
Below is a picture of a chalice. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the black magic described in this novel contrast with the Dark Arts in Harry Potter? 
Black magic is the use of supernatural powers for evil purposes. It is the counterpart to white magic, which is often understood to be used for good. Its origins can be traced to the worship of spirits. In the movie The Lord of the Rings, black magic was used to forge the ring. 
In the Harry Potter series, the Dark Arts was regarded as a form of black magic. This magic included spells that included brewing harmful or poisonous potions to breeding Dark creatures. The Dark Arts are considered corrupting to those who use them. Albus Dumbledore suggested that engaging in any of the Dark Arts that involve murder was damaging to the soul. Often times, a person's appearance illustrated this corruption. 

4. Up the Spiralwood

Explain how this "fleeting memory" serves as possible foreshadowing for later events. 
The video below discusses foreshadowing. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a picture of a howler monkey. (This annotation contains an image)
What assumption does Aldwyn make as to the reason for the strange looks from the howler monkeys? 
A moth is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following does the highlighted text most likely foreshadow? 

5. Gloom Hills

In Irish folklore, a banshee is a female spirit whose wailing warns of impending death. Keep this in mind as you read on in the novel. 
According to Skylar, why does the stream taste salty? 
The highlighted word means to recite or chant solemnly. This word is being used to illustrate the incantation that Skylar is currently chanting. For what purpose is she chanting? 
The video below discusses homonyms and homophones. 'Hare' is an example of a homophone. It sounds like 'hair,' yet it is spelled differently and has a different meaning. (This annotation contains a video)
Choose the option that is a homophone for the highlighted word. 
According to the Hebrew Bible, Simeon was the second son of Jacob and Leah. Zabulon was the sixth and last son of this pair. As you read on, consider the authors' motive/purpose for choosing these names for these bloodhounds. 

6. The Obsidian Cloud

Why do you think that the authors chose to include real animals (frog, cat, king cobra, etc.) to depict their protagonists and most of the descendants, as opposed to creating their own fictional characters, like they did for the shadowhounds and Army of the Dead? 
The highlighted word means extremely bad or appalling. With that in mind, what might this canyon's name foreshadow for these characters? 
According to the text, what characteristics can be attributed to lightmares? Choose the option that is NOT a part of the text. 
An angler is a person who uses an "angle" (fish hook) method of fishing. The hook is usually attached to a fishing line, and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. (This annotation contains an image)
Obsidian is an igneous rock that forms when molten rock material cools so rapidly that atoms are unable to arrange themselves into a crystalline structure. The result is a volcanic glass with a smooth uniform texture.  (This annotation contains an image)
Using context clues and the "Define" feature, name a synonym for the highlighted word. 
Quiz #1 

7. The Scorch Path

A stallion is a male horse. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the text, what has kept the lightmares from aging? 
The Greek myth of Orion is quite lengthy and often disputed. According to many accounts, he was a giant, strong, and brave huntsman. During a hunt with goddesses Artemis and Leto, Orion threatened to kill every beast on Earth. Mother Earth objected and sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion. The creature succeeded, and after his death, the goddesses asked Zeus to place Orion among the constellations. Zeus agreed and, as a memorial to this hero, he added the Scorpion also. 
Based on what you learned about the Greek mythological figure known as Orion, why do you think that the authors chose to name this lightmare by the same name? 

8. A Cunning Capture

Below is a picture of a wolverine. Wolverines are quite vicious animals. (This annotation contains an image)
In your opinion, is the use of majority rule fair, with relation to how it has been used in this novel? Consider using the information about majority rule, as it is defined by the United States' Bill of Rights, to craft your answer. 
According to International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, the term “majority rule” stands for a rule of decision-making within a specified group. At its simplest, the rule requires that the vote of each member shall be counted as equal to that of every other and that no vote or decision by a minority may override that of a majority. The link below discusses this doctrine, along with places in U.S. history in which it has been utilized. (This annotation contains a link)
A shaman is a faith healer who is believed to heal people using magic. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "they are typically thought to have the ability to heal the sick, to communicate with the otherworld, and often to escort the souls of the dead to that otherworld." The word 'shaman' (of Asian descent) can be defined as "one who knows." 
Whose efforts were the most integral in the animals' escape from the wolverines? 

9. Lothar

The picture below includes a cobblestone street. (This annotation contains an image)
Examine the author's reasons for choosing to include flashbacks and a flash-forward at this point in the novel. What do you think they are trying to help the reader to learn? 
Using the chapter's plot, determine why the authors chose to name this chapter "Lothar." What are some other possible titles for this chapter? 

10. Standoff at Jabal Tur

How is it ironic that Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert are being called "The Prophesized Three"? 
The video below discusses dramatic irony. Currently, the situation in the story is dramatically ironic. As you watch, consider what makes this so. (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think that the authors chose to end the chapter with the highlighted line? What/How does this textual choice add to the story? 

11. Into the Abyss

Breakdown the title, using the annotation above, then determine the connotation (implication or suggestion) behind this title. 
Judging by the way that the narrator describes Urbaugh, it is clear that this wizard is one that garners much respect (even without his powers) from the men around him. The narrator has introduced this fact to us by way of indirect characterization. The video below discusses indirect and direct characterization. (This annotation contains a video)
The word 'abyss' from the title is a hole so deep or a space so great that it cannot be measured. Consider whether the connotation of this word is positive or negative. 
The link below contains an article with pictures of prehistoric cave paintings. While looking at these pictures and reading the captions, consider how they may relate to the cave paintings discussed in the novel. (This annotation contains a link)
Using context clues, choose the option that offers the best synonym for the highlighted word. 

12. Poison Darts and Pocket Dragons

What is Skylar implying about Aldwyn in the highlighted statement? 
The picture below is that of a king cobra snake. (This annotation contains an image)
The New York Times article below discusses the reasons for the King Cobra's imperviousness. Despite this fact, the mongoose is an unlikely foe to this powerful snake. (This annotation contains a link)
According to the New York Times article, what is NOT an aspect of a mongoose's body that makes it possible for this animal to defeat a king cobra? 
Using what you know about the novel's plot, what impending event might this highlighted text foreshadow? 
The highlighted word is a number of bullets, arrows, or other projectiles discharged at one time. Often times, volley includes back and forth shots. With this in mind, this fight is quite action-filled. Picture in your mind the action taking place at this point in the novel. 
Quiz #2 

13. A Stroke of Luck

The picture below is that of a pair of topiaries in the shape of a man and a woman. (This annotation contains an image)
Choose the option that is NOT a way that the text directly characterizes the Baroness. 
The video below discusses the difference between synonyms and antonyms. A synonym for the word 'collected' is 'accumulated.' An antonym for 'collected' is 'give out.' (This annotation contains a link)
Using context clues and the "Define" feature, choose the option that offers the best antonym for the highlighted word. 
The chapter's title signaled to the reader that something good was going to happen. What event made this title true? 

14. Twice Betrayed

Below is a picture of corked vials. (This annotation contains an image)
Using textual evidence to support your conjecture (assumption), choose which character you think is the traitor among the group. Your answer could include an explanation for why you think that no one is traitorous. Either way, make sure that you provide evidence to support your decision. 

15. Sleight of Hand

What is the culprit for this change in Orion? 
The highlighted text contains an idiom. Idioms are a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the words used to construct the phrases. Idiomatic phrases have literal and figurative meanings. For example, the highlighted phrase's literal meaning is that a score needs to be figured out (taken care of). Its figurative meaning is to punish someone for a wrong that he/she has committed. 
What makes this fall so lucky for Galleon? 
The image below contains a scimitar, which is a sabre with a curved blade, originating in the Middle East. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the major event that leads to Galleon getting his powers back? 

16. A Destiny Made

For what reason has Gilbert decided to reveal this vision to Skylar at this point in the novel? 
The highlighted text is an idiom that actually means that Aldwyn is struggling with the difficulty that his destiny presents. His impending failure is haunting him. 
Why is the presence of these birds so surprising? 
An aura is a force that surrounds a creature. Using the description provided by the narrator, picture in your mind what this aura looks like. 

17. Battle at Bronzhaven

Based on the text, what is the main purpose of constrictor vines? 
The picture below is of an elk in a field. (This annotation contains an image)
The video below includes a clip from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The shows the Army of the Dead accompanying Aragorn in a battle against the Orcs. The Army of the Dead, also known as the Dead Men of Dunharrow or Oathbreakers, were the ghosts of deceased Men of the White Mountain. They were cursed to remain in Middle-Earth by Isildur after they abandoned their oath to aid him in the War of the Last Alliance. While watching the clip, consider how these soldiers compare and contrast to Paksahara's Dead Army soldiers. (This annotation contains a video)
The picture below includes a cornerstone, which is the large block that forms the corner of the building. (This annotation contains an image)
What aspects of the plot signal that the climax is near? 

18. The Shifting Fortress

A crystal urn is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
There are many instances in history where people have been oppressed and ostracized based on the fact that they were different from their oppressors. Choose an instance/event, and explore why this type of persecution is so unfair. 
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, necromancy is "communication with the dead, usually in order to obtain insight into the future or to accomplish some otherwise impossible task." It is usually associated with black magic. In this instance in the novel, Paksahara is proposing its use in order for Skylar to reunite with her sister. 
What characteristic of Gilbert made it possible for Aldwyn to identify the true version of this tree frog? 
The picture below includes a vultures. Vultures are known to circle in the air above a place where dead remains are present. (This annotation contains an image)
What was the key factor in the trio's defeat of this hare? 

19. A New Vastia

If you were the author of this novel, which character would you choose to narrate this tale? Be sure to support your answer with evidence and clarification from the text. 
Frogs do not actually possess sweat glands, so they rely on the external environment to regulate their body temperature. 
Using what you know about the relationship between mongooses and king cobras, explain the irony in the current events of the novel. 
Quiz #3