The Fire Chronicle
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The Fire Chronicle is book 2 in the Books of the Beginning series by John Stephens. Here is an audio interview of John discussing this book. (This annotation has embedded rich content)
This prologue was written in italics. This is because it is a dream that one of the main characters is having. Read on to learn more about this character and her dreams and visions.
Chapter One: The Letter in the Tree
Why is Kate putting a letter in a tree stump?
In this chapter John Stephens, the author, is summarizing the first book in the series "The Books of the Beginning". The book is titled "The Emerald Atlas". If you have not read the book, do not worry. He is not giving away all of the details to spoil it for you. He is just giving you enough background information so you will understand the characters in this story.
What information are you gathering about the first book in the series?
Michael has a fascination with dwarves. This comes from the book his father left him about dwarves. This is his only link to his father, who he has not seen in over ten years.
Who is older, Michael or Emma?
When reading it is important to know the genre, or type, of story you are reading. This video explains the different literary genres. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter Two: The Storm
What genre is The Fire Chronicle?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Use the Define feature and read the definition for sodden. Which of the following words is a synonym for sodden?
The Screechers' scream is so thunderous that Emma hears it up in the tower!
What was Michael's promise?
Chapter Three: The Devil of Castel del Monte
Michael and Emma are very fond of Dr. Pym. He has helped them in many situations in the past, and he is helping them now by magically removing them from the Screechers. He transported them from Baltimore, Maryland to Italy by a turn in the wardrobe. This trip takes over ten hours by airplane. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is an excerpt from another story in which children walk through a wardrobe and enter a different world. This story is called "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." See if you can notice any similarities to Michael and Emma's journey. (This annotation contains a link)
How is The Fire Chronicle similar to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe excerpt you read above? Cite evidence from both stories in your answer.
If time travel is confusing to you, here is a video of kids explaining the concept. Remember that this story is about magical time travel, though, so your characters can travel in the future and in the past. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is the wizard making Michael and Emma tell their story before he tells his?
The signora was being so pleasant to Dr. Pym and the children before Dr. Pym's questioning. Since she is so afraid of the man they call the Devil, it would not be surprising if she never lets them back in the cafe.
How does Dr. Pym know it is safe to walk towards the house?
Chapter Four: Dr. Hugo Algernon
All stories are written from a certain point of view. This video will explain the different types. Using the clues from the video see if you can determine from which point of view this story is written. (This annotation contains a video)
From which point of view is The Fire Chronicle written?
Hugo is being sarcastic. Dire Magnus' power may be diminished, but it is still powerful enough to kill at least two men.
Gabriel is a character from the first novel, the Emerald Atlas. Emma is very close to the man. Why is he not reuniting with Emma?
Remember, Michael has not seen either of his parents in over ten years. He was too young when they disappeared to really remember them. Anytime he gets information about them he is very excited and eager for more.
Why is John Stephens including this story about Hugo's trip to Buenos Aires?
With the knowledge that Hugo was the last to see his parents, Michael and Emma have even more questions. Usually Kate's role is to siphon through the information and come up with a plan. With Kate absent, Michael is going to have to become the leader.
Why has Hugo been hiding in the cottage for ten years?
Michael waits until Emma goes to bed before questioning Dr. Pym about Rourke. This shows you how protective Michael is of his little sister and how much knowledge he wants her to have.
Why is the quest for the three books important?
Chapter Five: Rafe
The action moves from Michael, Emma, and Dr. Pym to Kate. The setting changes as well. Look for clues in the paragraphs to determine where Kate is being held.
Kate is remembering events that happened previously in the story. What is the name of this literary device?
Many times a "doctor college" uses corpses for their students to demonstrate medical skills. This college pays five dollars for a body.
How does the current setting differ from the setting Kate was in with her siblings?
The locket is the only thing Kate has from her mother. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain Kate's plan for returning to the present.
Kate is startled to see non-realistic events happening right before her eyes. The man lighting himself on fire and the boys dismissive attitude towards dragons' eggs is making Kate realize she is in a different type of world.
Kate has arrived in a world where magic coexists with the normal world. Describe at least three of the magical things Kate is seeing. Cite evidence from the passage to support your answer.
Kate is asking a random witch for help in getting home. Do you think this is a good idea? If you were lost would you ask a stranger to help you get home?
Why is Kate choosing to trust the witch?
Kate never drank the tea. The smell of it causes Kate to pass out. This shows you the potency of the witch's tea.
From who's perspective are you seeing this scene of Kate being drug down the alley?
Rafe seems to know Kate and does not think she should be in this world with him.
Chapter Six: Malpesa
How is Malpesa similar to the town where Kate is?
Dr. Pym does not divulge much information about the current quest. This could be because of what Hugo mentioned earlier. If the children do not know information and are caught by Dire Magnus they cannot give information to him.
Which word below is a synonym for stratagems? You can use the "Define" feature for help.
Dr. Pym told the children they had to wait until dark because he did not want them to be seen by Dire Magnus' spies. His other reason was the bridge is only available during a small window of time at night.
Why are the children and Dr. Pym on the island?
Michael still wishes that the wizard would share more with him. Finding the symbol and the grave so easily is so exciting, though, Michael does not carry ill feelings towards Dr. Pym.
What did Emma expect to find in the tomb?
Emma and Michael may argue and complain like all siblings, but they do love each other very much.
Chapter Seven: And Three Will Become One
This statement "every breath tasted like a dose of medicine" is an example of a simile. Below is a video explaining similes and metaphors. (This annotation contains a video)
Which sentence below contains a simile that describes the way the sound is moving in the passageway?
This statement is telling you about the third book in the Book of Beginnings. When an author discloses information about events that will happen later in the book, or in the next book of the series, it is known as foreshadowing.
What does the Order of the Guardians' oath tell you about the group?
Michael always complains about his small size. This is a chance for him to use it to his advantage and he is seizing the opportunity.
Why is Emma panicking?
Michael wants to show Dr. Pym that he deserves the respect that Kate gets. Dr. Pym could help him with this riddle, but Michael is insistent on trying it himself.
Think about the clues and the contents of the three jars. Which one would you choose? Why?
Michael is diligent in making sure he always has his pack filled with the things he needs. Hopefully one of his tools, the dwarf book, will help him make the correct decision.
How is Michael solving the riddle?
Michael and Emma learned in Book One that the Screecher's sreams were to induce fear in those who listened. If they ignore the screams they cannot be hurt by them.
Why is Michael fatigued?
Dr. Pym is giving Michael words of encouragement. He knows what Michael is capable of and he needs Michael to see his own strengths.
Why is Emma crying for Dr. Pym?
Chapter Eight: The Savages
Kate is in the year 1899 when the people do not know about the effects of smoking on their bodies. This website explains the harm smoking does to your body. (This annotation contains a link)
What are "The Savages"?
You learn that "The Savages" are a group of thieves. Before Kate knew they were stealing, she sensed that the group was calm and content with their surroundings. While they may be small-time criminals, they are a happy group.
What is Rafe teaching?
Rafe is trying to expose the holes in Kate's plan. This will make Kate want to go see his boss without arugument.
What is Kate's first impression of the woman in the belfry?
Kate's initial impression of Henrietta as a no-nonsense woman is being further solidified with this conversation.
Why must Kate wait two days to return home?
Have you ever missed a family member so much you can feel it with your whole body? If so, you can relate to how Kate is feeling. The connection the reader has with the story is called a text-to-self connection.
Why did Kate's clothes and shoes suddenly fit?
The boy is at the girl's house to get information about Kate. The girl, of course, is of the magical world.
Quiz for Chapters 1-8
Chapter Nine: Ice
John Stephens frequently has the characters retell parts of their stories to new characters. An author does this for two reasons. First, he is reviewing past scenes for you. Second, he is allowing the character to discover something about himself or herself. In this case you see that Michael is not as confident in himself as Dr. Pym is in Michael.
Which animal below would be described as feeble?
Antarctica is the Earth's southernmost continent. The population is made up entirely of scientists and researchers. There are between 1,000 and 5,000 people on the continent depending on the season. This link has some fun facts about this continent. (This annotation contains a link)
How does the pilot know where to fly?
Deja vu is the feeling that an event currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.
How will Gabriel and the children get back to the camp they stayed at last night?
Blizzards are a typical storm in Antarctica. Loose snow is picked up and blown along the surface by the heavy winds. Blinding conditions can result where you cannot see three feet in front of you. Localized blizzards are caused when the surface wind sweeps up any loose snow, even if the skies above are clear and no snow is falling. A severe blizzard may last for a week at a time.
How are the weather conditions impacting the search for the Chronicle?
Here is a picture of an ice cave. (This annotation contains an image)
Compare the picture of the cave (above) to the cave Michael is in.
Chapter Ten: The End of the World
Redwoods are one of the tallest species of trees on Earth. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the group so warm they need to dip in the river?
Gabriel does not seem to think Michael will stay with his sister. Does he suspect Michael does not want to keep her safe? Or does he know what the music does to people?
The ferns are "bending back to open a path." What form of figurative language does this statement represent?
Something in the elves' song is drawing Michael and Emma towards them. They are even concerning themselves with how they are dressed! Michael despises elves, so the magical pull of the song must be very strong.
Why are Michael and Emma suddenly concerned with their appearance?
Sometimes you are asked to write a summary of a chapter or book. Below is a video explaining the parts of a good summary. (This annotation contains a video)
Why did the elves vanish?
Gabriel told Michael not to leave Emma. Whatever reason Michael has for running, it must be very important for him to leave Emma and defy Gabriel.
Summarize the chapter The End of the World.
Chapter Eleven: The Snowball Fight
Kate did not get a chance earlier to discuss the Atlas with Scruggs. He knew this on his own.
What does Kate feel when she hears violin music?
The mood in a novel is the feeling that you get when you read. As the children are preparing for the party, the mood is bustling excitement.
Why does Rafe want Kate to wear the hat?
Kate and Rafe have the "missing parents" issue in common.
Because there was no room at the children's table, Kate and Rafe are sitting together. This is like a date for the two of them.
What is Rafe's point of view on the Separation?
Remember in Rafe's vision Kate helps him, but dies herself. He is beginning to develop feelings for Kate and does not want her to die.
Theme is the underlying message in a novel. What theme is emerging in this chapter?
Remember Beetles and Jake can do magic, but because they are still learning they do not have control over it.
Why is Kate taunting the teenagers?
If you recall, Rourke is the person the Imps were trying to take her to when they bought her from the witch. Rafe saved her from this kidnapping.
Chapter Twelve: To the Fortress
What does the word emanating mean as it is used in this paragraph?
The Chronicle is connected to Michael. That is the invisible force he is feeling.
How did Michael find Emma?
These circles indicate the man could be from the Order.
What is Michael learning about Bert?
If there is no antidote then there is no way to reverse the effects of the potion.
Why is Gabriel growling?
Bert is to keep the Chronicle safe until the Keeper arrives. If Michael is the Keeper Bert will be able to give the book to him.
How will Bert know if Michael is the Keeper?
Chapter Thirteen: Hello, Rabbit
Characters in literature have to deal with conflict throughout the story in order to solve their problem. Below is a video describing literary conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
What conflict is Michael facing?
This is the first time the author is showing Gabriel's point of view. See what you can learn about his character through his thoughts of the events taking place.
Why does the author have Michael stutter the word "St-stay"?
The dragon is still hanging from the ceiling like a bat.
Who is the Rabbit?
Michael is trying to be brave but he is running out of ideas.
Why is Michael making a promise with the dragon?
Does it surprise you that Michael just called the Guardian an idiot?
What is the needle the dragon is referring to?
Michael learned from the dwarf book to think with his head and not with his heart. He uses his brain to release the spell on the elf girl.
Chapter Fourteen: The Hothouse
What did Kate lose?
You can tell from Henrietta and Scruggs' reaction that Rafe does not talk back to them. This is a first for him but he is willing to go against Henrietta's orders to save Kate.
Why are the Imps preparing for a party?
Here is a picture of a dress, similar to the one Kate is wearing. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the room the Dire Magnus is in differ from the rooms downstairs?
This advice Kate may have to remember. Kate should not assume what she sees in someone's appearance to be truthful.
Why did Kate's chest feel heavy?
Kate is figuring out who the ninth Dire Magnus is. Have you figured it out?
How was Rafe able to get into the mansion?
Chapter Fifteen: The Book of Life
Michael is describing the princess in poetic terms, which is very unlike him. That is how he knows she is using magic on him.
Why is the princess insisting that Michael is in love?
Remember that the Chronicle is the book of life. When Wilamena says "fix a person" she means give them life.
What does Michael need to make the book work?
Something happened when Michael wrote Emma's name in the book. For some reason he does not feel comfortable sharing it with Emma or Gabriel.
Why does the Guardian say Michael is not the Keeper?
Michael is afraid to look at the book. He is also fearful when handing it over to Emma. Will he have the courage to be the Keeper?
Chapter Sixteen: For Auld Lang Syne
Why are Kate and Rafe jumping onto a moving train?
Kate is working through several conflcts in her head. The most important decision she needs to make is how much of her knowledge to share with Rafe. You are learning about Kate's character as you read about her inner thoughts. This video will tell you more about character. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the phrase "...all she could hear was the furious pounding of her heart" tell you about Kate's character?
Rafe is explaining about his mother and father. This must be leading to how he knows Kate.
How did Rafe's mother die?
The title of this chapter is Auld Lang Syne, a popular song sung at midnight on New Year's Eve. Here is a version of the song with the lyrics. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz for Chapters 9-16
Chapter Seventeen: The Hostage
In fantasy novels, portals help move characters from place to place and through different time periods. This Rourke is the same character who is chasing Kate, but a portal brought him from the past in New York City to the present in Antarctica.
Why does John Stephens use the three dots to separate these paragraphs in this novel?
The elves are very concerned about their appearance and enjoy complimenting each other. Would you enjoy the focus on appearance and the constant compliments? Or would you find it annoying?
Why is the elf army present?
The group is not sure why the volcano is erupting, but the black smoke can lead to a complete eruption with lava. Here is a video of a volcano emitting black smoke. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Michael's group position an advantage to Rourke's group?
The children thought Rourke had their parents, but now the suspicions are clarified.
Michael is faced with two choices here. Explain the two choices and tell which choice you would make.
Captain Anton is willing to battle for Michael until death. That is why he is giving Michael an attack signal.
What word describes the mood in this scene?
Michael is confused that his father does not remember the quotes and details from the dwarf book. He is trying to buy himself some time to think with his head, not his heart.
Why is this decision of Emma's so important to Michael?
Remember a glamour is a type of spell that makes a person look like someone else. Rafe used a glamour to sneak into Dire Magnus' mansion.
Chapter Eighteen: Henrietta Burke’s Last Wish
How did the church remain invisible until now?
Similar situations involving mobs of people hating others for various reasons are found throughout history. Here is a site about one such groups that were put on trial. Think about the message being told in "The Fire Chronicle" and how it compares to the message in the Salem Witch Trials. (This annotation contains a link)
Compare the message the witches were getting during the Salem Witch Trials to the message the children are receiving from the mob of humans during this scene in the story.
Despite all of the doubts that Kate should have about walking into a burning building, the fact that she does not hesitate tells you something about her character. She is strong-willed and sticks with her friends no matter what the circumstance.
How is it possible for Rafe to have cool air around him when he is in a burning building?
Even though Dire Magnus makes it seem like being the ninth is Rafe's destiny, Henrietta is giving Kate different news. He does not have to become her enemy.
John Stephens is telling parallel stories. One story is Kate and Rafe's and one is Michael and Emma's. How do the events of this chapter compare to the events in Michael's story?
Chapter Nineteen: The Battle of the Volcano
This story is a fantasy. Watch this video to learn the elements of fantasy and see which elements are evident in "The Fire Chronicle". (This annotation contains a video)
What elements of fantasy are found in this novel?
Michael is using his head, not his heart, to come up with a plan. This is the advice he keeps repeating from the dwarf book.
What word does the Princess use to convince Michael he should follow through with his plan?
Michael's heart had a difficult time handling Emma's pain. The Guardian's pain is much more intense. The pain will either be too much and Michael will die, or Michael's strength will come through and he will live.
From whose point of view is Michael seeing the events of the Guardian's life?
Michael notices the difference in the Guardian's eyes. Before the eyes were red and demonic, now they are wise and kind.
Why is Michael not fearful of the dragon?
Disarray and confusion are great distraction techniques. They help the other side get the upper hand.
How has the Guardian's role changed?
This is important advice that Michael must remember.
Chapter Twenty: Into the Fire
Why is this chapter titled Into the Fire?
Wilamena's past, the one that Michael is now seeing, is very beautiful and peaceful. This is in sharp contrast with the Guardian's past.
Which word below is a snyonym for nauseous?
Emma feels it is important to tell Michael that she trusts him. She does not think the book is correct. She wants him to know that she will always trust him. The belief in this trust may be tested in the future.
What happens right after Emma sees Gabriel in trouble?
Gabriel is losing his energy in the fight. Rourke is so strong he is able to hold Gabriel off and continue a one-man dialogue. This talking may distract him, though, and that is Gabriel's hope.
What suprising knowlege about the books did you just learn?
Did you predict that the dragon would save the children? Remember, Michael wrote Wilamena's name in the book before he entered the heart of the volcano. He did not know if the book did it's magic, but he now learns it worked!
What clues did John Stephens write to help you visualize the size of the dragon?
Chapter Twenty-one: Separation
Kate is apologizing to her family for any future problems Rafe may cause them. She is faced with a decision and decides she cannot take someone's life, even if the choice puts her family at risk.
Why is Rafe attacking the villagers?
Kate has another decision to make. She must decide if she should share with Rafe her knowledge of the Dire Magnus or keep Rafe in the dark.
Why does Kate not use her magic to save herself?
Rafe is looking for a wizard or witch who is stronger than Scruggs or Miss B. Do you know where he is heading?
Why is midnight significant?
Chapter Twenty-two: In the Trees
Michael and his siblings need to remember this advice from Dr. Pym.
Where is Michael's bag?
Michael is trying, unsuccessfully, to tell Dr. Pym he does not want to be the Keeper. Dr. Pym keeps interrupting so Michael cannot get his thought verbalized.
Besides Michael's parents, who else was a prisoner at Dire Magnus' New York mansion?
Were you wondering how Dr. Pym always seems to live regardless of the circumstances? You just learned the answer. He has part of the Chronicle inside of him.
Here is a poem titled "Our Universe". While reading it think about how it relates to Michael and the situation he is in presently. (This annotation contains a link)
After reading the poem Our Universe, write about how it relates to Michael and his current situation. Include evidence from The Fire Chronicle and Our Universe in your response.
Michael does not know that his sister has been brought to the elves' world.
How did Kate arrive in Antarctica?
Chapter Twenty-three: The Ghost
Throughout most of this book Michael and Kate's adventures have been told in separate chapters. Now their world's are together again.
Why is Michael unable to use the Chronicle on Kate?
Michael was able to help many people with the Chronicle. The one person he truly needs to help is his sister and he is unable.
Michael is talking to _______________.
An apparition is not indefinite. It has a limited time to keep it's shape.
What advice does Michael's Dad give him?
Chapter Twenty-four: The Rise of the Dire Magnus
Here is a visual of Wilamena's description of the worlds. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Wilamena say "...you are not a rabbit anymore?"
Why did Michael not confide in Emma? Is it because he was trying to protect her? Or was it something else?
Why is the church sentimental to Rafe?
A few chapters back Kate had to make the important decision to save Rafe, even if it meant harm to her family. Now MIchael is faced with an important decision of his own. He must take on the Dire Magnus' darkness to help Kate live.
The phrase "...the Dire Magnus's spirit is attaching itself like a cancer to the boy's soul..." is an example of what type of figurative language?
Michael is showing how much stronger he is becoming. Only a strong, brave individual would be able to fight the pull of the Dire Magnus.
What part of himself is Michael using to help Kate?
If Michael would not have had the strength to run through the tunnel he would have been lost forever. He is gaining knowledge of how to handle the Chronicle's power.
What is the most important event in The Fire Chronicle and why?
Quiz for Chapters 17-24