A Faraway Island
Torn from their homeland, two Jewish sisters find refuge in Sweden. It's the summer of 1939. Two Jewish sisters from Vienna12-year-old Stephie Steiner and 8-year-old Nellieare sent to Sweden to escape the Nazis. They expect to stay there six months, until their parents can flee to Amsterdam; then all four will go to America. But as the world war intensifies, the girls remain, each with her own host family, on a rugged island off the western coast of Sweden. Nellie quickly settles in to her new surroundings. She's happy with her foster family and soon favors the Swedish language over her native German. Not so for Stephie, who finds it hard to adapt; she feels stranded at the end of the world, with a foster mother who's as cold and unforgiving as the island itself. Her main worry, though, is her parentsand whether she will ever see them again.
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Watch the book trailer for this story. It will give you a brief introduction to the book. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of locomotive. Which of the following is the BEST description of the word as it is used in the context of the sentence?
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 context clues to determine the most likely definition of dwindle?
Imagery is the use of figurative language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses. In the highlighted text, the author appeals to the sense of sight by saying, "The sun is bright" and the sense of touch by saying "Stephie is all itchy inside her heavy new coat." Watch the video to learn more about imagery and why authors use it in their writing. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the five senses does the author's use of imagery appeal to in the highlighted text?
Point of view is the mode of narration that an author uses to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story. Watch the video for a more in-depth look at point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the annotation above to answer this question. From which point of view is this story written?
"Carry a tune" is an idiom that means 'to be able to sing well.' Here, we learn that Stephie can not sing well.
Why is the world "spinning" to Stephie?
Why do you think Nellie is so excited that they have arrived at their destination?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of "disembark."
What do the details in the paragraph suggest about the people who live in the houses?
Similes and Metaphors: Both simile and metaphor compares two distinct objects and draws similarity between them. The difference is that simile uses “as” or “like” and metaphor does not. Watch the video to learn more about simile and metaphor. Can you identify the comparison made using a simile in the highlighted sentence? (This annotation contains a video)
Stephie and Nellie have been placed in homes. They thought, up until now, that they would be living in the same home.
Explain what each girl's reaction reveal about their age and maturity.
What does this detail reveal about the people who live in this house?
The author's use of imagery helps you "see" the house as if you were walking through it with Stephie.
Make Connections: Have you ever eaten something gross? If so, you can imagine how Stephie feels trying to eat this fish.
Why is Stephie unsure if she should ask for more milk?
"Clatters" is an example of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is defined as a word which imitates the natural sound of a thing. It creates a sound effect that mimics the thing being described, making the description more expressive and interesting. Watch the video to learn more about onomatopoeia. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Stephie stop writing when she is trying to describe Aunt Marta?
Which of the following is an onomatopoeic word?
"She lies awake for ages" is an example of a hyperbole. A hyperbole is a figure of speech, which involves an exaggeration of ideas for the sake of emphasis. The word "ages" is used to show that Stephie stays awake for a really long time.
Do you think Aunt Marta's cooking is similar to Stephie's mother's? Why or why not?
Why do Stephie and Aunt Marta have difficulty communicating with one another?
Why is Nellie afraid to go to the outhouse at night?
What does this detail reveal about Auntie Alma?
Use context clues to determine the most likely definition of disposes.
There seems to be conflict between Stephie and the blond girl. Keep reading to see if the conflict gets worse between them.
"Hisses" is an example of ____________.
What does this detail reveal about how Stephie feels about Aunt Marta?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of gesticulates. Which of the following is a synonym ( word with similar meaning) for gesticulates?
Why is Stephie NOT going to swim? Do you think she will change her mind?
What do you infer Stephie will do at the pump?
Why do you think Stephie chooses NOT to tell Aunt Marta that her swimsuit is dry.
Parallelism (parallel structure) is the use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter. In the highlighted text, each sentence begins with "Every day." This is an example of parallel structure. Watch the video to learn more about parallel structure. (This annotation contains a video)
Describe how Aunt Marta and Auntie Alma differ in how they do housework. Cite textual evidence to support you answer.
Do you think Stephie is drawing herself?
Flashbacks are interruptions that writers use to insert past events in order to provide background or context to the current events of a story. By using flashbacks, writers allow their readers to gain insight into a character’s motivation and provide a background to a current conflict. Dream sequences and memories are methods used to present flashbacks.
Why does Stephie remove the china dog from the cupbard?
Why does Stephie only eat a little at Auntie Alma's house?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of ransacking. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for ransacking?
In what ways do Stephie and Uncle Evert communicate with each other?
If you were to walk into Stephie's classroom, how could you tell the difference between the German children and the Jewish children?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of 'incredulous.'
Evi may not have to leave Austria because ___________________.
Why do you think Stephie tells her parents that everything is fine?
Why are Nellie and Stephie anxious to get to Amsterdam?
What will the girls need in order to get to Amsterdam?
"Ow" is an example of onomatopoeia because it creates a sound effect in the text. Look at the poster for other examples of onomatopoeia. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Stephie say that Nellie can not let their mother know she wants to go home?
Why do you think Stephie and Nellie engage in this fantasy game? Do you think it makes them happy to imagine they are in a better place?
Why do you think Stephie has to nudge Nellie to get her to reply to Vera?
Stephie thinks Aunt Marta is not at home because her bike is not leaning against the house. What evidence from the text reveals that Aunt Marta is at home?
Which literary device is used in this sentence?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of pentecostal. Write the definition below that most closely relates to the context of the sentence.
What effect does the music have on Stephie? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
Do you think Stephie's prayer will be answered?
What does this detail reveal about Vera?
What effect does the Nazi rule have on Jewish schools?
Why do the schoolbooks cause Stephie to cry?
Can you identify the literary device used in this sentence?
Which word might describe Stephie on her first day of school?
Vienna, Austria (This annotation contains an image)
Protagonist vs. Antagonist: The protagonist in a story is the main character. The antagonist is the character in conflict with the main character. Use this information to answer the question below.
Who is the protagonist in the story?
Personification is a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes. The non-human objects are portrayed in such a way that we feel they have the ability to act like human beings. Here, the wind is given the ability to "bite." Watch the video to learn more about personification. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Stephie like going to school? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
If you were Vera, would you stand up for Stephie or act like you do not notice the teasing?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of furtively. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for furtively?
Adolf Hitler (This annotation contains an image)
Svante does not understand that Stephie does not like Hitler. She is a Jew and Hitler is cruel to Jews.
Do you think Stephie is justified in the way she reacts to Svante? Explain your answer.
Why does Stephie tell Britta that "Jesus doesn't exist"? Do you think she feels that Jesus does not care about her because if He did, she would not be in the situation she is in?
Why does Stephie feel like she needs Britta?
What does "wet as a drowned cat" mean?
The highlighted text is an example of ________________.
This detail reveals that ______________.
Why does Stephie think that Aunt Marta and Uncle Evert are not wealthy? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
Do you think Stephie's parents were wealthy? What evidence from the text supports your answer?
Do you think Stephie will tell Aunt Marta the truth about taking the dog from Auntie Alma's house?
Which literary device is used in this sentence?
Do you think Sylvia will be Lucia?
Who might Stephie nominate to be Lucia?
Why is Sylvia mad at Stephie?
Make Connections: Have you ever been distracted by your thoughts? Stephie has a lot on her mind and is unable to focus on school.
Why does Nellie think Stephie might be sent home?
Do you think Stephie will be sent to a new place to live? How will that affect her if she is?
Do you agree with Aunt Marta that names should only be given to living things and boats?
How does Stephie plan to get through singing the song on Lucia Day?
Why does Miss Bergstrom leave the room?
Do you think anyone will notice Stephie's dress?
What does Stephie notice about herself when she looks in the mirror?
How do you think Stephie will react to hearing she has mail?
Why does Stephie hope the letter says more?
Why are Stephie's hands trembling as she opens her Papa's letter?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of 'mane.' Which definition refers to the context of this sentence?
Why is it difficult for Stephie to defend herself with words?
Stephie wants to get reunited with her parents. Every time someone tells her it may be a while, she loses hope.
Why does Stephie want to use the pictures from last summer instead of more recent ones?
Why does Stephie suggest that Nellie give Sonja her coral necklace?
Make Predictions: Do you think Nellie will give the coral necklace to Sonja?
Why do you think Sylvia continues to taunt Stephie?
Why does Stephie lie to Sylvia about getting a new Christmas dress?
How do you think Stephie feels about Aunt Marta liking her gift?
How does Aunt Marta knit the cap and mittens without Stephie noticing?
The author uses imagery to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. As you read, visualize what you are reading.
Identify and state an example of onomatopoeia in the highlighted sentence.
What does this detail reveal about the front room of the house?
Stephie's memory of New Year's Eve in Vienna is an example of flashback. Why might the author have chosen to include this particular memory in the story?
How does Stephie feel about not receiving any letters from her mother or father?
Why does Stephie NOT tell Aunt Marta she needs new boots?
Why is Stephie upset that her mother does not get angry about her cutting her hair?
How would you feel if you thought one of your parents did not care about you?
Which word might describe Stephie after Aunt Marta says "Our destinies are in the hands of the Lord"?
Why does Stephie have a tone with Aunt Marta? Do you think it is because she wants someone to help her parents?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of placates. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for placates?
Why does Stephie cut her finger with the knife? What evidence from the text supports your answer?
Can you identify the literary device in the highlighted text? If you said simile, you are correct!
Do you think it is a good idea for Stephie to travel to Goteborg alone? Explain your answer.
What obstacles does Stephie face as she makes her way to Goteborg?
Do you think Stephie feels hopeful now?
Do you think the Parliament of Sweden will be able to get Stephie and Nellie's parents into Sweden?
How does Stephie's relationship with Uncle Evert differ from her relationship with Aunt Marta? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Which word describes Stephie after she sees Nellie dressed as an Easter witch?
Why do you think Nellie is trying to fit in with the Swedish culture and Stephie is not?
'The Tales of Ensign Stal' is an epic poem written in Swedish by the Finland-Swedish author Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the national poet of Finland. The poem describes the events of the Finnish War (1808–1809) in which Sweden lost its eastern territories; these would become incorporated into the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland. Why do you think the teacher wants the students to read this book?
In what area does Stephie have success?
How do you think Stephie feels hearing that she can not continue to go to school? How would you feel?
What will Stephie learn in the home economics class?
What does Aunt Marta mean by "things have to be spic and span"?
Could this be a letter from the Parliament of Sweden? If so, do you think they will help Stephie's parents get into the country?
What does Aunt Marta do differently when she has guests over to eat?
Why does Stephie think Aunt Marta suggests she take her cake to her room?
Dialogue is conversation between characters in a story. Dialogue is always separated from narration by quotation marks.
"Caw" is an example of _____________.
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of 'brusquely.'
Why are Stephie and Aunt Marta worried?
Do you agree with Stephie? Do you think their parents will recognize them no matter how much time passes?
Why do Nellie and Stephie sleep in the same bed on this particular night?
In what ways does being in a war affect citizens of a country?
What is Stephie still hoping for?
What does Uncle Evert teach Stephie in the boat on this particular day?
What is meant by the saying "Never say never"?
Based on the details in the text, what do you infer is going to happen?
Do you think Vera will laugh at Stephie?
Why is flat ground better for learning to ride a bike than a hill?
How do you think Stephie feels about riding the bike on her own?
Does Aunt Marta's attitude seem to be changing?
Using context clues, what does conspiratorially most likely mean?
The details in the highlighted text suggest that ________________________.
Do you think Sylvia will think the tack was an accident or Stephie's fault?
Why does Stephie still refer to her house as "the house at the end of the world"?
Why does Stephie not hear her name the first time it is called?
Do you think Stephie is pleased with Aunt Marta's reaction or did she expect her to be more excited about her achievements?
Why are Aunt Marta, Uncle Evert, and Stephie moving into the basement of their house for the summer? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
How is Auntie Alma's reaction to Stephie's academic achievements different from Aunt Marta's reaction?
What does Stephie mean by this statement?
Do you think Stephie's attitude toward Aunt Marta will change now that she knows about Anna-Lisa?
Based on the details in the text, what caused Aunt Marta to become the person she is?
How does Putte feel about Stephie? What evidence from the text supports your answer?
In what ways is life on the island different during the summer months?
How does this relate to Stephie?
Pacing is the rate at which a story unfolds. Stephie has been on the island since last August. Therefore, she has been there almost a year. Watch the short video to learn more about pacing. (This annotation contains a video)
This detail suggests that _____________.
What causes Stephie to attack the boy?
Do you think Stephie will be able to catch up with Putte and get him home safely?
Why is Stephie afraid that Putte is dead?
Why do you think Stephie does not want to tell anyone what the freckle-faced boy said about her? Is she ashamed that she is a Jew?
What is the meaning of cloudless in the highlighted sentence?
Suffix -less: The suffix -less means "without." Use this information to answer the question below.
Do you think Vera is a true friend?
This detail reveals that _____________.
Will Aunt Marta make Stephie apologize to the freckle-faced boy?
Use the DEFINE feature to read the definition of impatient. Which of the following is a synonym (word with similar meaning) for impatient?
Do you think the boy's parents know the truth of what happened? Why or why not?
Which word BEST describes the bald man's reaction to Aunt Marta's comment?
Static and Dynamic Characters: Static characters do not change over the course of a book. However, dynamic characters do experience change throughout a story. Watch the video and then answer the question below. (This annotation contains a video)
How has Aunt Marta changed over the course of the book? Is she a static or dynamic character?
Do you suppose the doctor's wife will help Aunt Marta and Uncle Evert send Stephie to school?
How does the doctor's wife offer to help with Stephie's schooling?
Stephie has been in Sweden on the island for a year now. How has she changed over the course of one year?
The barnacle is a hardy animal that is found in or very closely to sea water. (This annotation contains an image)
After you finish Quiz 3, continue reading to find out more about the author. The author’s note also includes information about the 500 children who were rescued from Nazi Germany and relocated to Sweden, biographic information about Thor, and the methods used to gather firsthand accounts from some of the refugees.