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Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to be pretty . . .

Aza's singing is the fairest in all the land, and the most unusual. She can "throw" her voice so it seems to come from anywhere. But singing is only one of the two qualities prized in the Kingdom of Ayortha. Aza doesn't possess the other: beauty. Not even close. She's hidden in the shadows in her parents' inn, but when she becomes lady-in-waiting to the new queen, she has to step into the light—especially when the queen demands a dangerous favor. A magic mirror, a charming prince, a jealous queen, palace intrigue, and an injured king twine into a maze that Aza must penetrate to save herself and her beloved kingdom.

Curriculet Details
58 Questions
58 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in sixth grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining theme, character traits, and plot. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about making inferences, and context clues. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of textual evidence, genre, and conflict. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

Authors use foreshadowing to give an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. It may appear in the form of dialogue between characters, an event in the story which hints at a later event, or even the title may give clues about what is to come. Foreshadowing creates suspense, which keeps the reader wanting to know more about what will happen. The mention of the velvet blanket that is edged in gold thread is an example of foreshadowing. It hints that Aza may have been born to a wealthy family and that sometime later in the book the truth about her birth family may be revealed.  
Aza tries all these methods to become pretty EXCEPT 

Chapter Two

Theme is a main idea of a book that is repeatedly addressed as the plot progresses. In this book, the theme of beauty on the inside is more important than beauty on the outside is a major theme. Pay attention to how this theme is developed as the book continues.  
What concerns Aza more than the danger the gnome predicts? 
The character of the duchess can be described as each of these traits EXCEPT 

Chapter Three

The genre of this story is fantasy. Did you notice the mention of a fairy godmother and gnomes that can tell the future? These are characteristics of a fantasy story. View this video to learn other characteristics of the fantasy genre.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain how Sir Peter's character as a scoundrel contributed to Aza's discovery about her voice.  
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. Try it right now to look up the word flushed.  
Explain how the parents' wish for Aza to sing at the next village meeting relates to the theme of beauty.  

Chapter Four

Every story is organized in a pattern called plot. The plot is the series of events that make up the story. The first part of the plot, the exposition, introduces the characters, setting, and the major conflict. You know Aza and her family own an inn and that her internal conflict is the struggle to accept her appearance.  
Aza feels all these emotions about going to the castle for the king's wedding EXCEPT  

Chapter Five

Personification is when human qualities are given to objects or animals. Look at the sentence, My flowers were begging for water. The flowers are begging for water like people would beg if they were thirsty. Writers use personification to make what they are describing easier to understand or more interesting. The paragraph in this story describes towers that have eyes and feeling friendly or hostile. This gives you a clearer understanding of the feeling Aza has as she nears the towers.  
Use the Define function to learn the definition of the word bodice. From the 16th to the 18th century, European women wore them as the upper portion of a dress. Look at the image of a bodice below. Does it look comfortable to you? (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Six

How is figurative language is used in the highlighted sentence? 
The Three Tree symbolizes  
Several characters are introduced in this scene. The king, queen and prince show actions that are loving and cheerful, but Aza notices that the queen's smile is "lacking warmth." These are character traits that are important to understanding a character's motivations for actions in the story. Learn more about character traits in the following video.  (This annotation contains a video)
Lady Arona shows grace to Ivi even though she was expected to marry the king, which shows that her character is  

Chapter Seven

The singer's lyrics mean that singing is the way to make you feel better when life gets tough to handle. What do you do when life gets hard? 
Good readers make a picture in their mind of what is happening in the text. Can you envision the servants, muffins, men carrying the ox, and the size of the potato? 

Chapter Eight

Why is Aza surprised at the kindness shown by the maid and Lady Arona? 
Which word is a synonym for pray? 
Good readers focus on important ideas, ask questions as they read, and predict what will happen next. For example, Aza is so overwhelmed with the thought of singing with the prince that her vision is blurred and her throat is paralyzed. Will she be able to sing well, or will she embarrass herself in front of everyone? 

Chapter Nine

As a ride on a roller coaster begins, the tension builds as you are slowly taken up to the highest point. In a story, this part of the plot is called the rising action. This is usually the longest part of the story when actions occur to develop the story, minor conflicts happen, and suspense is built. At this point in this book, Aza has arrived in the castle and been treated kindly by the prince. As you continue reading, notice events that move the story along and build suspense. 

Chapter Ten

Who is the queen avoiding? 
The details in the highlighted sentences show Ivi is jealous of Lady Arona's voice. A detail in the text that proves a point is text based evidence. Learn more about this concept in the following video.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which words from the paragraph help you to understand the meaning of the word peremptory? 

Chapter Eleven

Aza's remembrance of the king's description of Ivi in the Wedding Song is an example of  
Some words have more than one meaning. In this story a list is an arena, but you probably know the definition as a series of words or numbers. Learn more about multiple meanings of words in this video.  (This annotation contains a video)
Using the details in the highlighted sentences, what can you infer the king shouted? 

Chapter Twelve

We learn about characters in the text from what they say, what they do and what other people say about them. In this passage, you can tell Ivi is self-centered from her dialogue in the text. Learn more about using text-based evidence in the following video.  (This annotation contains a video)
All of these statements are possible inferences about the meaning of Ivi's touch of Ijori's cheek EXCEPT  
This event in the rising action of the plot introduces a conflict between Ivi and Aza. What do you think Aza should do?  
All of these events are clues the author gives to foreshadow Ivi's potential for cruelty EXCEPT 
Quiz Chapters 1-12 

Chapter Thirteen

Every story uses conflict to move the plot along. External conflict can appear in several forms: man vs man, man vs nature, man vs supernatural, man vs machine, or man vs society. Internal conflict is a character’s struggle to make a decision or deal with a strong emotion. At this point in the book, Aza's internal conflict is the decision to sing the song Ivi composed or revise it to help the king.  
Explain how Ijori's comment is not a compliment.  
Authors choose words carefully to set the mood so the reader will feel a specific emotion. Mood can be developed through setting, tone, word choice, or theme. In the beginning this song evokes a depressed mood through the use of the description of the food: cream curdles, milk sours, eggs break, onions rot. However, the mood becomes hopeful by the end with the description of the actions of the inanimate objects: cakes would bake themselves, mares shoe themselves, roads pave themselves. Notice the feelings you have as you continue reading.  

Chapter Fourteen

The crowd laughed at Aza because 
Similes and metaphors are used when comparing two unlike things to explain content, express emotion, and make writing more clear. Similes use the words like or as to make the connection, but metaphors use the word is to compare. In this song, the king's face is compared to a type of rock because he is as still as a rock.  
A good reader can summarize main points in a story. To summarize the songs presented for the king's healing, you could say the Ayorthaians' songs reflect the true love and care they have for the king, while Ivi's song shows not care for the king, but her intention to rule sternly. View the following video to learn more about summarizing.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Fifteen

Which word is the best synonym for the word duplicity? 
Good readers think about information they already know and apply it to a new situation. This is called accessing prior knowledge. In this scene, Aza uses what she knows about angry people from her experience at the inn to deal with Ivi's anger. How do you respond when someone blames you for their mistake? 

Chapter Sixteen

What does Aza mean when she says the gift of Dame Ethele's gowns could be punishment? 
Good readers use details in the story in order to fully understand the meaning. This is called making an inference. Watch the video below to learn more about making inferences. Use the details in the story to infer Aza’s true feelings about forgiving Ivi.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which word is the best antonym for prodigious? 

Chapter Seventeen

Good readers use clues from the text to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words. These clues may appear in the sentences before or after the unknown word. View this video to learn more about context clues. What clues from the text help you decipher the meaning of the word embellishments?  (This annotation contains a video)
The description of the man in the library contains this type of figurative language.  
Based on the information you already know about Aza and what the library keeper says about the mirror, make a prediction about what will happen in the story.  

Chapter Eighteen

Authors work hard to choose just the right word to give the reader a clear understanding of exactly what they mean. The words bead and gob give you a clear picture of the size of the porridge.  
The author uses personification to make the description of the stars more vivid.  
The highlighted sentence indicates that Aza is feeling 
Aza's struggle to keep the secret of her deception is an example of  

Chapter Nineteen

Remember in the first chapter the author used foreshadowing at the mention of the velvet and gold blanket? Now, Aza knows she had wealthy birth parents. This relates to the theme of her quest for identity and belonging.  
The author uses imagery and figurative language to express how ridiculous the gown looks. This description is much more interesting than just saying the gown had too much fabric in the sleeves and the hat covered her ears.  
Why does Frying Pan serve the remains from the food? 
This scene continues to develop the theme of appearance as Aza tries a spell to make her beautiful without knowing what the cost will be.  

Chapter Twenty

Sometimes the dictionary definitions of a word do not match the way a word in used in a sentence. What is the definition of the word guttered as used in this sentence? 
Use the Define function and context clues to choose the the best definition for the word entreat as used in this sentence. 

Chapter Twenty-One

The events in this chapter are told in chronological order. View this video to learn more about sequence of events.  (This annotation contains a video)
Aza feels all of these emotions about her new wardrobe EXCEPT 
The tailor of Ayortha feels Aza has placed her loyalty with the queen, so he treats her as badly as he would like to treat the queen. Have you ever treated someone badly when they were friends with someone they didn't like? 

Chapter Twenty-Two

With confidence gained by Ijori's kiss, Aza handles the situation with the tailor in a calm, honorable manner so no one will be punished by the queen. She sums it up by thinking that "kisses are better than potions." Do you think she has given up on changing her appearance? 
Summarize Aza's feelings about beauty from her song.  
Why do you think the birds are not singing? 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Good readers often pause during reading to reflect on the accuracy of previous predictions and clear up any confusion about the story. Your reflection could be like this: Aza has a good heart, but her appearance keeps many people from treating her nicely. Ijori recognizes her inner beauty and they have become more than friends. Ivi is beautiful on the outside, but has a cruel and selfish heart.  
The author uses foreshadowing here to hint that there may be a battle between Ivi and Aza over Ijori.  
Explain how the author uses the sing to express the mood of the town. Remember to indicate the words that show the mood as your textual evidence.  
In most texts you read, several tensions probably exist. They serve to intensify the mood of the story. Tension and conflict often go hand in hand. A police chase and an argument between two characters in a movie are examples of tension. Tension can be felt by the reader as an emotion. In this scene tension is built with the calamity that happens as Aza is singing and Ivi is shouting. You care about Aza so you feel nervous, on the edge of your seat and tense. Pay attention to the ways the author conveys tension in this text. And also pay attention to how you feel during the other tense moments in the book.  

Chapter Twenty-Four

The mood of the crowd has changed from depressed to  
Now that Ivi is confronted by several people, she is powerless and quickly appears defeated. How do you think she will explain the illusion? 
Ijori knows that Aza has been tricking him all along and feels all these emotions EXCEPT  
Quiz Chapters 13-24 

Chapter Twenty-Five

Why does Aza say she hates Ijori? 
Aza's secret has been revealed to Ayortha and she will be imprisoned. View this clip from Frozen where Elsa's secret has been revealed. How are the two scenes similar and different?  (This annotation contains a video)
The events in this chapter serve to heighten the tension in the book. Are you feeling tense? Are you wondering how Aza will solve this conflict?  

Chapter Twenty-Six

Aza being declared an ogre and thrown in prison are events that add to the ____ of the book.  
Explain what Aza means by the highlighted sentences.  
Aza uses the power of song to lull the guard to sleep. She feels like an ogre using this tactic. Do you think she is an ogre? Make a connection to your own life. Has anyone ever sung you to sleep with a lullaby? 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Aza is surprised that Uju, Ivi's favorite guard has rescued her from the prison. She brainstorms possible motives for the rescue. When she learns the queen sent him, she thinks she may be in danger as evidenced the statement, "I retreated to my spot against the ravine wall." What do you think Uju's intentions are for Aza? 
All the lines from Aza's song are textual evidence of the mood of despair EXCEPT 
Aza is wondering if the ogres would accept her as one of their own. Read the quote below. How are the speaker's feelings similar to Aza's? Sometimes we fight who we are, struggling against ourselves and our natures. But we must learn to accept who we are and appreciate who we become. We must love ourselves for what and who we are, and believe in our talents. Harley King  

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Aza and Uju's battle with the ogres in an example of  
An allusion is a reference to a character or event in a widely known text, image or event that helps the reader to visualize or imagine more about the text. The reader must already know about the reference in order to understand what it means in the current story. Allusions are commonly made to the Bible, nursery rhymes, myths, famous fictional or historical characters or events, and Shakespeare. In this story, the allusion is to Snow White. Uju is ordered by the queen to kill Aza but doesn't, just as the huntsman is ordered to kill Snow White, but doesn't.  
What is the most likely reason why the author decided to tell the story from Aza's point of view? Is it effective? Use examples from the story in your explanation.  

Chapter Twenty-Nine

All of the phrases contribute to the mood of this passage EXCEPT 
Alliteration is the repeated consonant sound in a series of words. It adds to the rhythm of the text and makes it more fun to read. Which consonant provides the alliteration in this poem? 
From the description of the bedroom, you can infer that Aza feels ___ in the Gnome Caverns.  
Aza has found a friend in zhamM who accepts her with any appearance. He is generous, kind, and accepts her feelings about the events at the castle. Do you have someone in your life who accepts you no matter what you have done? 

Chapter Thirty

How does the author use the way zhamM responds to Aza's request to develop the theme of the story? 
Another theme in the book is the longing for acceptance and identity. Aza expresses in her song that she has found acceptance and identity with the gnomes. Which lines from her song illustrate this theme? 
Which statement best summarizes Aza's song for the little girl? 
Good readers use details from the text to make inferences. Based on the details you know about the main characters, who do you think will show remorse and gloating at the same time? 

Chapter Thirty-One

Aza's internal conflict regarding her feelings for Ijori have been resolved by his acceptance of her true appearance.  
How do the phrases "light as snow" and "velvet fingers" rather than "gently" and "softly" impact the image the author is creating of how Ijori treats others? 
Aza has a hard time accepting zhamM's judgment of the thief even though he explains both are better off with no punishment. How do you feel about the grace he extends to the thief? 

Chapter Thirty-Two

zhamM's statement is an example of  
The reference to the poisoned apple is an example of  

Chapter Thirty-Three

Aza is experiencing an external conflict of man vs supernatural with Skulni. How do you predict she will escape? 
This statement is textual evidence that Aza still cannot accept her appearance even after she knows Ijori loves her with her natural look.  
The scene Aza sees in the mirror with Ivi and Lucinda is an example of  

Chapter Thirty-Four

Which answer choice is an antonym for the word dissuade? 
Aza pauses and reflects about the events in the book that have lead her to this brink of disaster. How do her thoughts relate to the theme of the book? 

Chapter Thirty-Five

The structure of this sequence of events of Aza's time trapped in the mirror is  
This point in the book is nearing the end of the rising action. Aza is using her illusing to contact Ivi to warn her of Skulni's trickery and find a way out of the mirror. What textual evidence can you find that indicate her plan may actually succeed? 
Aza focuses on goodness and love to give her the strength to break the mirror. Do you think Ivi is saved? 

Chapter Thirty-Six

Which dictionary definition for wiles is appropriate as it is used in this sentence? 
The top of the roller coaster is the point where you can’t go up any higher. In a plot, this is the climax. As this point, the character knows he must make a major decision to resolve the conflict. The action then starts to move in a different direction. In this book, Aza has resolved her internal conflict by deciding to accept her appearance. Read the poem below by clicking the link in the title of the poem. How are the speaker's discoveries about beauty similar to Aza's?  (This annotation contains a link)
Aza's insistence to accompany Ijori to the castle despite the danger shows that she is NOT 
After the roller coaster hits the highest point, it quickly goes downhill toward the end of the ride. In a plot, this is the falling action. The conflicts are resolving and any loose ends are tied up. As you continue to read, notice how the rest of the problems will be quickly solved in the falling action.  

Chapter Thirty-Seven

How do the events on the first two pages of this chapter contribute to the falling action of the book? Use text evidence to support your analysis. 
What does Aza mean when she says, "It was far better to be me than to be Ivi"? 

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Oxymoron is a figure of speech used to create an effect by joining two opposite ideas. An adjective is usually preceded by a noun to create the oxymoron. Look at these examples: jumbo shrimp, seriously funny, awfully pretty. Sometimes the opposing words or phrases are not always right beside each other, as illustrated by this example: in order to lead, you must walk behind. In the highlighted sentence, Aza pairs the opposites of a prison and a merry place. 
Why doesn't the king execute Ivi? 
Once the roller coaster ride is over, the cart pulls back into the station. In a plot, this is the resolution. The main character may have changed over the course of the story, any conflicts are completely solved, and the story ends. What text evidence on this page proves that Aza has changed from the start of the book? 
Read this excerpt of Ivi's first song. I will ruleAyortha for you, so you must not worry.I will be a powerful queen. I shall expect obedience, loyalty, and respect from my subjects. The hallmarks of my rule will be a firmhand and a stern heart. I will rely on the governing principles of my native Kyrria. Which words are evidence that the mood of Ivi's song has changed from her first song after the king's injury to her final song? 
At several points in the story, zhamM tells Aza she is at a crossroad. A crossroad is a time in life where one must make a major decision. Each choice leads to a different result. Aza must now decide whether or not to marry the prince and hope Ayortha accepts her or go back to Featherbed to be with her family. What major crossroads do you think you will have in your life? 
Quiz Chapters 25-38 
How do you know Ayortha accepts Aza? 


An epilogue is a section at the end of a book that gives more information about what happens to the characters after the story has ended. In this book, you learn what happens to Aza's family, the king, Dame Ethele, and Aza and Ijori's life together. Of course, they live happily ever after.