I Am the Messenger
Meet Ed Kennedy-underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he's hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first Ace arrives. That's when Ed becomes the messenger. . . . Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission? Winner of the 2003 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love. From the Hardcover edition.
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It is important to understand the tone and mood of this story from the beginning. (This annotation contains a video)
Even though the situation of a bank robbery is very serious, the tone and mood of the story so far seems to be
Below is a light-blue Ford Falcon similar to Marvin's. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you have read so far, who is telling the story?
Think about what Marv's priorities might be, as you read on.
Australian card games are somewhat different than American games. The story makes references to cards and card games throughout. As you look through the list, are there any card games that you have heard of before? (This annotation contains a link)
The narrator is comparing his life to famous people, in order to convey that he believes he is a
What does Ed mean by anti-achievement?
Which of the following describes Ed's family life?
Norsca spray is an Australian deodorant brand. (This annotation contains an image)
You might recognize Cindy Crawford from this TV commercial. (This annotation contains an image)
In three or four sentences, describe Ed in terms of how he thinks of himself and what you think about his character so far.
Some insight from a blogger on Australian eating. As you read, consider your thoughts about this odd (to Americans) combination. (This annotation contains a link)
This is the first of several cards Ed will receive with messages written on them.
The emergence of the card adds an element of _________ to the story.
What does "It sparkles in my hand" imply?
Ed's mother is
Here, "bloody" is a type of profanity, common in the U.K. and Australia. You will see it used throughout the book.
The picture below is of a betting shop, similar to where Ritchie hangs out. They are similar to casinos in the U.S. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Ed's description of Marv's character tell you about their relationship?
Think about Ed's internal conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Ed use the metaphor of a cheap suit to describe the bank robber?
Again, think about Ed's internal conflict as you read the book.
How do you think Ed feels about his encounter with the gunman?
Think about Ed's character and the life he has chosen for himself, thus far.
What is the author telling us in this description of the woman sitting on the porch?
The author's witty mood is portrayed, as Ed drinks coffee with the Doorman. According to Nescafe, this blend of coffee is Australia's favorite. (This annotation contains an image)
As you read this short summary of James Joyce's "Ulysses," think about how it might be similar in theme and plot to "I am the Messenger." Also, since this is not an easy book to read, the author is conveying that James is a very intelligent person. (This annotation contains a link)
Describe, in a few sentences, Ed's love for Audrey and his feelings of being rejected. Compare his feelings to how you would feel, if you were hopelessly in love with someone.
Mud cake is a heavy, rich cake that resembles the appearance of mud. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the description of this scene allow us to assume about Milla?
How is Ed enjoying his new role as a "true messenger"?
Here is a metric conversion site that might be helpful throughout the course of the story. (This annotation contains a link)
What does "the irony of it" refer to?
Wuthering Heights is a classic English tale published in 1847. Several times, it has been adapted into a film version. (This annotation contains an image)
Even though the Doorman is old and smells terrible, why does Ed love him?
The link below provides you with a short list of Australian slang words. As you peruse the list, are there any words that you recognize? (This annotation contains a link)
Notice that spring is in October because the story takes place south of the Equator.
As the messenger, Ed feels compelled to
Melanie Griffith is an American actress who made many movies in the eighties and nineties. (This annotation contains an image)
In a few sentences, write what you think the beautiful runner needs that Ed the Messenger can help her with.
Watch this short video on foreshadowing. It will help you understand the author's craft. (This annotation contains a video)
A Lamington is an Australian dessert that is made of sponge cake coated with chocolate sauce and coconut. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Sophie's dad remind Ed of his own father?
It appears that Sophie's father is somewhat ____________ by Ed's gesture of giving her the empty shoebox.
The scene in the movie Ed is referring to... (This annotation contains a link)
Reflecting back on what you know about Ed, cite some examples that prove he is not "just another stupid human."
Who lives at 45 Edgar Street?
Below is a picture of the cast of The Dukes of Hazard, which was popular in the 1980's. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this sentence infer?
What is the success that Ed feels he has needed?
Ed is feeling
"Five Hundred Miles" is a popular Aussie song created by the Proclaimers in the late eighties. (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Ed want to borrow the cab?
Here is a scene similar to the bushland past Edgar Street. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Ed is capable of killing the man? Why or why not?
This scene is very tense. Watch this video clip to discover how tension fits into a story's plot and theme. (This annotation contains a video)
Pets can be such a great source of comfort in trying times. Ed needs the Doorman right now.
Who or what is the "guilty party" the author is referring to?
As you read on, pay attention to the chapter titles and think about why Ed is so worried about the card faces.
Quiz, Part One
A balaclava is a type of headgear that exposes only part of the face. (This annotation contains an image)
Even when Ed is in a dire situation, he continues to be
This strange pair seem to come out of nowhere to abuse Ed and eat his food.
Why do you think Ed is telling the men he wants a pie, of all things?
The author portrays the two men as being both abusive and
The theme of the story emerges, as Ed reads the card and receives encouragement from the sender.
How does Audrey add to Ed's feelings of hopelessness?
The author is telling us figuratively that Ed is feeling hopeless because he believes Audrey does not really understand all that he has gone through.
By sharing this description of the people he has met, Ed is showing
Do you see the parallel between the robbery and all that has happened to Ed since it happened? (This annotation contains a video)
A famous waterway in Sydney, Australia (This annotation contains an image)
Ed is a daydreamer with a lot of
Suddently, Ed's emotions have changed from feeling hopeless to feeling
It seems a little out of character for Marv to be such a responsible money saver, doesn't it?
How do you think that meeting Alice has changed Ed's attitude about finding the stones of home?
If you were to guess who the mysterious person is behind this, who would it be?
How does the author use this chase scene to tell about Ed's relationship with Tommy?
What does this passage tell you about Ed?
Ed's conversation with Tommy on the phone tells us that they have
Fibro is a house building material that is made of asbestos and cement. (This annotation contains an image)
Who knows Ed well?
What sense might the reader get, while reading the dialogue between Ed and Father O'Reilly?
Think about why this might be Ritchie's favorite group. (This annotation contains a link)
What story theme do you see emerging here?
Why is Father O'Reilly so likeable?
Here, the tone of the narrative is
The culture in Australia is known for alcohol consumption. Here is a little information. (This annotation contains a link)
According to the article in the previous annotation, how does alcohol consumption by Indigenous Australian men compare to that of non-Indigenous Australian men?
How would you describe George O'Reilly's household?
Write a few sentences to tell what you think about Ed's mother and her relationship with Ed.
How does Ed fulfill his mission as the messenger in the case of Father O'Reilly?
Why is Ed saddened when Angie walks by?
Here we see that Ed is feeling less guilty about the incident with the father on Edgar Street.
Think about what this might mean in terms of Ed and his job as the messenger.
How can something as simple as an ice cream cone make someone happy?
In comparing and contrasting the Rose brothers with Angie, what do we observe about Ed's job as the messenger?
In Australia, an all-night chemist is a pharmacy, similar to this one. (This annotation contains an image)
As badly hurt as Ed is, why would he attempt to smile?
Marcus Zusack's sense of humor and dry wit creates an entertaining and amusing story, as serious as the theme may be.
How would you describe Marv's side of the conversation with the waitress?
Below is a little information about the seasonal flow of Australia. How might knowing this information help you to better understand this novel? (This annotation contains a link)
Merv Hughes is a former Australian cricket player. (This annotation contains a link)
Mimi is pictured in the middle. (This annotation contains a link)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape? includes a character named Mama Grape. This is who Ed is referring to in the text. (This annotation contains a link)
Write a few sentences to describe why Ed feels so guilty.
Why does the word "bore" make them both laugh?
Reading books and poetry is wonderful because often times, you make a connection to something without expecting this to happen.
What does this statement tell you that Ed believes?
What does this interaction between Ed and Audrey tell you about Audrey?
Graham Green, a writer who suffered from depression, was suicidal. He died in 1991. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you suppose the author chose titles of books by authors who suffered from emotional distress, instead of more upbeat authors?
Comparing the ditched books to losers of a dramatic race is an example of
The link below provides a short summary of The Bell Jar. As you read, consider why the narrator might find merit in this novel. (This annotation contains a link)
After Ed went to Glory Road and saw the people living in the home, he was probably
Why does Ed tell the man he used to live in his house?
What was another situation in Ed's journey in which "big things were small things that were noticed"?
Take note of the title of the chapter and think about the author. (This annotation contains an image)
How did the author use "the power and the glory" to illustrate what transpired?
What does the author mean by the highlighted statement?
If you haven't tried hot chips with salt and vinegar, you are in for a treat. (This annotation contains an image)
Using Ed as an example, write a paragraph to explain why life is more purposeful when we take the time to help others.
Ed is reflecting on how his life has changed, since he became the messenger.
What does Ed have to think about?
What does this statement mean?
Ed does not know whether or not he is placing himself in danger as he accepts another mission.
Can you imagine Ed's surprise, when he sees his mother at the restaurant with a gentleman, only six months after her husband has passed away?
Ed is like his father in that he has
Quiz, Part Two
The pain his mother has inflicted upon him is causing Ed unbearable grief that is worse than what he has endured, as he performs his messenger duties.
"It takes a lot of love to hate you like this" is Ed's mother's way of saying
Ed is saying that where they live is no excuse for what has happened.
This is a turning point in the story. Think about Ed's life and how the messages have made a difference in people's lives.
How is this messenger 's journey a little different than the others?
Do you think Marv will show up?
Why does Ed feel a special fondness for Milla?
Audrey is a lovely person. No wonder Ed is in love with her.
What is Audrey beginning to realize?
How is Ed feeling as he sees the Ace of Hearts?
To Ed, the color of red and black music in his head means that he is
Marcus Zusak is a talented writer who uses imagery to create a visual image of thoughts and feelings. (This annotation contains a video)
Think about this paragraph and what it means to your own life.
The empty shoe box is a message telling Sophie that
What is the lesson that Ed has learned?
Think about Ritchie's personality in contrast to Marv's.
Can you imagine what the Doorman is wondering?
Think about Ritchie's life and why he might have made this comment.
Ed is beginning to figure things out about his life, in comparison to his father's.
Ed senses that something in his life is causing Ritchie to be
Ed makes a fairly accurate observation here.
The author uses figurative language to paint a picture to show how ______________ Ed feels.
If Ed and Tommy do have a chance to talk someday, what do you think Ed will want to talk about?
Ed's fondness for Milla gives us a picture of what a kindhearted person he is.
Why does Ed feel like Milla did him the favor of spending Christmas with him?
Audrey's boyfriend seems like a decent person.
What does the conversation between Ed and Simon reveal?
The link below offers a brief description of Boxing Day. As you read, think about the aspect of this day that you find most intriguing. (This annotation contains a link)
Audrey Hepburn is the beautiful girl on the front of the motorcycle. (This annotation contains a link)
Think about the character traits of Ritchie, Marv, and Audrey ,and write a few sentences describing how you think Ed will help them.
This website will give you a visual of the meat pies described when Keith and Daryl show up. (This annotation contains a link)
The Doorman brings an element of _______to the story, as Ed continually defends him.
How will Ed find the answer of what to do?
Think about what the author is trying to say here.
Ed is discovering that Ritchie's life is _______ because he doesn't put any effort into living.
Ed's imaginary conversations with the Doorman are endearing.
What message is Ed trying to deliver to Ritchie?
What is the "truth" the author is referring to?
Whingeing is the same a whining. Here is a pronunciation. (This annotation contains a link)
What could Marv possibly need from Ed?
What do Ed's tactics for pursuing a conversation with Marv reveal about their relationship?
What is Ed thinking?
Knowing Ed's personality, do you think he is really that afraid?
Ed's message to Ritchie has made an impact. What do you think Ritchie will do?
Asking Marv for money is a very brave thing to do.
What was their usual trivial friendship like?
Remember earlier in the story when Ed asked Marv about his old girlfriend?
Marv's message will have more than one good outcome. Think about what they might be.
How does this revelation change your point of view toward Marv's character?
In the most stressful situations, Ed always manages to have a sense of humor.
Since the beginning of the book, we have noticed that Ed has always been assertive, but we now see that he
It appears that it won't be long before Melinda is calling Marvin "Daddy."
One of the underlying themes in this book is friendship. How has the friendship between Marv and Ed emerged since the beginning of the book?
Why do you suppose the author chooses hearts as the last card?
The author is using a metaphor to describe Ed's
The Joker card is for Ed. What do you suppose this means?
A Kombi is a type of Volkswagen bus. (This annotation contains an image)
Write a few sentences to reflect on the valid points Daryl and Keith make about Ed's life in comparison to his father's.
The gunman is helping Ed realize that he has finally started to live his life.
Here, what message do you think the author is relaying?
Think about your own life and how you can live beyond what you are capable of.
Quiz, Part Three
About the Author
A recent interview with Markus Zusak from School Library Journal... (This annotation contains a link)
Here is a link to Marcus Zusak's website. Read the biography and think about what might have inspired him to write a book with a setting in Australia. (This annotation contains a link)