Never Fall Down

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This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.

Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author's note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.

When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.

Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.

This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

Curriculet Details
28 Questions
28 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring Cambodian history and culture and American pop culture, as well as annotations describing the Khmer Rouge, illnesses suffered by people in the story, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Students will explore the themes of the horror of war and survival. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Homework #4

Watch the video below to review point of view. The video is referring to literature, not informational text, which this book is most like. However, point of view is significant in this book. The story is written by Patricia McCormick, but you will see that the story is written in first person, from Arn's point of view. Why would the author write someone else's story using first-person? (This annotation contains a video)


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? 
The text is written in dialect, which is when language is written using the sounds, grammar, and pronunciation reflecting the group of people being represented. Why would the author choose to write using dialect? 
The story Arn is going to tell will span the four years of the Khmer Rouge. However, there were effects that lasted for decades after; in fact, in 2014, there were trials for Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity. Review this timeline of the Khmer Rouge and as you read, look for references to items in the timeline. (This annotation contains a link)
What likely happened with all the soldiers in the green uniforms? 


This is a photograph taken in Cambodia of the city of Phnom Penh. Looking at this picture, can you see why it as so easy for Arn to get lost in the crowd and become separated from his family? (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Arn is able to speak of the horrible things he sees so matter-of-factly? Include details from the text in your explanation. 
The picture below shows a young Cambodian girl whose hair was cut by the Khmer Rouge. Why do you think this would be so upsetting to young girls? (This annotation contains an image)
Arn and the rest of the villagers are told they all live as equals. Which of the following proves that there really isn't equality among all of them? 
The site below explains more about the concept of Angka. Review it and then determine the reason why Angka was never really explained to Arn or any of the other Cambodian citizens. (This annotation contains a link)
What is the reason Arn's aunt doesn't want the children to visibly cry? 


Watch the video below that explains what happens to your body when you are in a state of starvation. How is Arn being truthful when he says, " stomach it eat itself...?" (This annotation contains a video)
Arn very simply states, "Death is just my daily life now." He seems unfazed by the death and brutality he sees every day. Re-read the highlighted passage then explain how the way this incident is written reflects Arn's matter-of-fact attitude toward death. 
The video below shows a young girl playing a khim. How challenging must it be to learn to play this instrument in so short a time? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Arn take the girl's bowl of rice? 


Buddha is at the center of Buddhism. Read more about Buddha and Buddhism below. How might praying to Buddha help the man find peace? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following words would NOT describe Arn as you see him at this point in his story? 
Cardamom is a fairly rare spice. Read more about it at the site below. Look for other uses of cardamom beyond cooking. (This annotation contains a link)
It is apparent that the will to live is very strong, even in the face of all the horror around Arn. Summarize some of the ways Arn has demonstrated a will to survive. Be sure to use specific examples from the text. 


Malaria causes flu-like symptoms that can be fatal. It is caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquito bites. The site below has an interactive map of malaria cases around the world. Bring up a map of Cambodia. How prevalent is malaria in that country today? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is NOT a way the Khmer Rouge inspires fear in the prisoners? 
Do you think Arn should use his power to his advantage and to help others? Why or why not? Use details from the text to explain your position. 


Below is a recipe for a Cambodian dessert that might be similar to the sugar balls Arn gives to Mek. Read over the recipe. Does this sound like a treat you might want to make or try? (This annotation contains a link)
What is Arn saying when he uses the metaphor of calling himself a ghost? 
The picture below is a sliced and peeled Cambodian mango. Mangoes are usually sweet, somewhere between a peach and a cantaloupe. Arn never mentions eating mangoes, though. Why do you think this is? (This annotation contains an image)
Below, you can see a tamarind. This can be eaten as a fruit, added to desserts, or dried and ground into a powder as a spice. How do you think Arn feels getting to eat a tamarind, even though he had to steal it to have it? (This annotation contains an image)
Sombo tells Arn that the other Khmer Rouge only kill people to keep themselves alive. Do you think this is a good reason for them to be so cruel to the prisoners? Why or why not? Use details from the text to elaborate on your position. 
Quiz Chapters 1 - 6 


The Voice of America is a government sponsored international multimedia broadcast. Read more about Voice of America and see some of their programming at the link below. Why would the punishment be death for Arn if he were caught listening to this radio station? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is NOT an advantage of Arn's fame? 


Why is Arn so afraid of the Vietnamese? 
Below is a link to a news briefing from the day Vietnam entered Cambodia. After reading it, can you understand a little better why this would be so terrifying to the Khmer Rouge as well as Arn? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following is NOT a clue that the Khmer Rouge were using the Little Fish as bait? 
The short article below discusses the effects of war on children. After reading it, do you see any of the effects in Arn? Do you think the impact will be different for Arn since he's not just witnessing the war but actually participating in it? (This annotation contains a link)


Arn is afraid Sombo doesn't like him anymore, but clearly he does since he saved Arn's life. Why do you think he is acting like he doesn't like Arn anymore? Use details from the text to explain your ideas. 


If Arn decides to go to Cambodia, he will not be alone as many Cambodian refugees sought shelter in Thailand. The picture below shows some refugees arriving in Thailand. What would Arn's life be like in a refugee camp -- better or worse? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Arn shoot this woman when she clearly is going to die anyway? 
Having a bottle of Coke to drink would be exciting not just because it is so different from the meager food Arn is surviving on, but because Coke was seen throughout the world as quintessentially American. The video below is one of the most famous Coca Cola commercials ever. Watch it and see if you can tell how Coke is trying to have global appeal. (This annotation contains a video)
Arn has conflicted feelings about Sombo. Based on what you have read, how do you think Arn should feel about Sombo? Be sure to explain your ideas, supporting them with details from the text. 


The picture below shows a banyan tree, which is the kind of tree Arn would sleep in to be safe from tigers. After looking at this tree, decide what would make this kind of tree better to try to sleep in than a tree we would see in the United States, like an oak or maple tree. (This annotation contains an image)
What was happening with Arn in the last part of this chapter? 


It is quite possible the singer Arn is referencing is Sinn Sisamouth, arguably the most famous singer from Cambodia. Read a little about him at the site below. Arn compared him to Elvis. How is Sinn Sisamouth similar to Elvis? (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz Chapters 7 - 12 


Why does Arn say death is an old friend? 
Scroll to the bottom of the page on the site below and read about Loung Ung, a Cambodian refugee who escaped the Khmer Rouge in Thailand. How does her story compare and contrast with Arn's? (This annotation contains a link)
What is the danger Arn might face on the other side of the fence? 
The picture below is of Arn and Mr. Pond in 1983. Do they look like what you have imagined them to look like? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Misster Pond mean when he says that Arn, Sojeat, and Ravi are his three wishes? 


Jabba the Hut and the Wookie are from the movie Star Wars. The original movie trailer is below. While learning about Star Wars isn't considered regular American school curriculum, why would it still be important for Arn to learn about Star Wars and other American pop culture? (This annotation contains a video)
Arn told Runty that he would come back for him. He made a silent promise to himself that he would come back for as many of the boys as he could. Do you think this is something Arn will actually do? What makes you think this? Be sure to back up your opinion with information from the text. 


The picture below shows an eight-track cassette player in a car with an eight-track tape in it. At the time, this was considered a state-of-the-art car audio system. What has the eight-track evolved into in cars today? (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize some of the new experiences Arn has now that he is in the United States. Which experience will be the most meaningful for him, in your opinion? Explain why, using what you know of Arn from the book. 


Watch the video below, which contains the opening and closing credits for the television show The Dukes of Hazzard. Like Star Wars, this show was part of American pop culture. What might Arn learn about America from watching this show? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is NOT a struggle Arn has adjusting to life in the United States? 
It sounds as if Arn might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Read more about this at the website below then compare what you learned to Arn's behaviors. (This annotation contains a link)


Why is Arn having such a difficult time adjusting to his new life? 


After reading this story, how do you think the author wants you to feel about Arn? 
The site below contains Arn's own retelling of his experience in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge, growing up in America, and speaking at St. John the Divine. Read his account on the site and compare it to the account in this book. What things are in both tellings? What new things did you learn from the website? (This annotation contains a link)


Quiz Chapter 13 - Epilogue