Ross is dead, and Blake, Sim, and Kenny are furious. To make it right, they steal Ross's ashes and set out from their home on the English coast for the tiny village of Ross in southern Scotland, a place their friend had always wanted to go. What follows is an unforgettable journey with illegal train rides, bungee jumping, girls, and high-speed police chasesall with Ross's ashes along for the ride. As events spin wildly out of control, the three friends must take their heads out of the sand long enough to answer the question: What really happened to Ross? Keith Gray is an award-winning author from the United Kingdom, making his U.S. debut with this action-packed and darkly humorous novel about friendship and loss. From the Hardcover edition.
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Typically books begin with an exposition where the author introduces the reader to the setting and characters. This book starts in medias res. Watch this video to learn what that literary term means. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the descriptions and what the characters are saying, explain what they are getting into.
Based on the words, phrases and similes the author uses, the mood is
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? 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. Use this feature to look up the word "thesaurus."
You can tell a lot about characters based on what they say, think, do and how others respond to them. Notice this as you read about the boys' interactions with each other.
Based on what the characters say and do, who is the leader of this group of friends?
Based on the characters' reactions to this conflict, we can tell that
This is an interesting way to end the chapter. This choice made by the author is called a cliffhanger which is employed to leave the reader in suspense. What do you think Sim will do with the spray can?
Based on this paragraph, we can tell that Blake is angry about the funeral. For some reason he finds it disrespectful. Read to find out why he is so upset.
Based on these lines, what can we logically infer about Ross's relationship with Fowler, Munro and Nina?
Based on what has unfolded in the story thus far, it is clear that Ross faced bullying in school. Watch this short film to learn about the effect bullying has on teens. (This annotation contains a video)
In 2-3 sentences, make a prediction about how bullying connects to Ross's funeral. Consider what you watched in the video to form your assertion.
Which line from the text shows that the boys have changed as a result of Ross's untimely death?
The boys plan to take Ross's ashes to Scotland for a proper burial. Scotland is a country in Europe. Do you think they will be successful? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the author use the phrase "drowning in it" to describe the t-shirt?
To "fancy" someone is to find them attractive or to have feelings for them. Notice other words and phrases as you read and figure out what they mean.
Grave robbing, also known as body snatching, is the act of stealing a corpse from its resting place. Peruse this website to learn about the consequences of committing this crime then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on what you've read about grave robbing, do you think the boys are committing a crime by stealing Ross's ashes? Why or why not?
What does the phrase "scratched his nose" reveal about Mr. Fell's current emotional state?
Blake is clearly avoiding telling Mr. Fell that his son was bullied in school. Why might he do that?
Mr. Fell believes Ross's death was a
The fact that Blake pushes Caroline out of the way to take the urn shows how much he wants to bury Ross in a proper way. This is an abrupt action that adds suspense to the story.
Based on the descriptions of clothing and their location, what can we tell about the boys?
This is an open train platform. It will help you get an idea of where the boys are and why they are afraid of getting caught. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this "big breath" reveal about Blake?
SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) police are a special unit used to take out criminals with weapons. Consider what the boys are doing. Why might Blake be thinking about SWAT police? (This annotation contains an image)
What does this action reveal about Blake?
Blake is revisiting the suicide conversation he had with Ross's Dad. The boys seem so close, but they have not discussed this possibility. Could they be in denial?
How does the author structure the narrative in this text?
Good readers notice how an author structures a text. Watch this video then respond to the question. (This annotation contains a video)
Social context is when an author employs words or phrases from a particular culture or part of the world to give the reader hints of the setting and where the characters come from. The fact that the characters use the term "Mum" shows that they are from England. Notice other examples as you read.
The author most likely uses this simile to show
Which line from the text shows that Blake considers this journey an adventure?
As you can see from this map, Doncaster is in the northern part of England. The boys are making progress and are getting close to Scotland. (This annotation contains an image)
This story explores friendship. In a group of friends, there are often different personalities. Based on what Kenny says and does, we can tell that he is the least mature of the bunch. Continue tracking his behavior to see if he changes.
In 2-3 sentences, explain the obstacles the boys have faced on this journey so far. Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Kenny keeps looking for an "out." It seems that he does not really want to be on this trip.
Based on Blake's reaction to Kenny, why is he on this trip?
Based on the way Blake describes Kenny, it is clear that he does not respect him. How do you view Kenny?
Which obstacles are the boys facing on their way to Newcastle?
Newcastle is a city in England. The boys are stopping there for the next leg of the trip, but will they make it on the next train? (This annotation contains an image)
The author made a clear choice to insert Caroline back in the story even though she is not on the journey with the boys. What role do you think she plays in all of this?
Which line from the text shows that the boys are using their power of persuasion to get ahead in line?
The fact that the boys are constantly recalibrating their plan shows that
The word "mates" is another example of social context. People often use this word in England or Australia to describe their friends or close acquaintances. As you read, look for other examples of social context the author has included in the story.
The author introduces new characters to the story. Here we meet Gus and Joe. As you read, think about their purpose, and why the boys have encountered them on this journey.
Based on what Joe is saying, why does he grin in the mirror at the boys?
Why are the boys confused about Joe's question?
This dialogue is interesting. We have learned that even though Kenny appears to be more average than the other boys, he is a whiz at the computer. Watch this video to learn more about how characters develop in a story. Keep track of the boys' development as you read. (This annotation contains a video)
The characters are playing games in the car to keep themselves amused as they head toward their destination. Watch this video to learn why people play road trip games and to learn about some new games. (This annotation contains a video)
In 2-3 sentences, explain why the characters are playing road trip games instead of telling Gus and Joe why they are on this trip.
Which line from the text shows Blake is being cautious?
Despite being on the road for a while, the boys still have no idea what they are doing. This dialogue reveals their cluelessness. Do you think they will be successful?
What have Gus and Joe figured out?
The phrase "weigh me up" most likely means
"Not for ages" is an idiom that means not for years. Notice other forms of figurative language as you read, and figure out what they mean.
The author most likely inserted this anecdote to
Peruse the National Suicide Prevention site to learn about prevention and signs of risk then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on your knowledge of suicide prevention and the dialogue Blake is having with Joe, what mistake did Ross make when he was being bullied?
The author most likely includes the imagery of the amusement park to
The boys have arrived in Blackpool. Pleasure Beach is a real amusement park in this town. Not only does the author include real places, but he incorporates playful settings to brighten the mood of the book. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the phrase "his eyes were hard" reveal about Bacon?
The author places Joe in the story to bring relief to the boys and a sense of comfort. In this dialogue, for example, Joe is acting as a "big brother" to the boys. He looks after them.
Explain what Bacon wants Blake to do for the money.
This is the first time anyone has given the boys validation about their decision to take Ross's ashes to Scotland. This may be the encouragement they need to press on.
What do Blake's actions in this situation reveal about his character?
The author employs ellipses in this narration to show that Kenny is deeply angered by Kenny and resents his thoughtlessness. Notice other punctuation the author uses and determine its purpose. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the author include this anecdote about the other jumper?
Bunjee jumping can be scary and very dangerous. Watch this video to see why the characters engage in tense dialogue about this topic. (This annotation contains a video)
As we venture further into the story, themes are beginning to emerge. Watch this video to learn how to figure out themes then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on Blake's thoughts in this paragraph, which theme is beginning to emerge in the text?
What does this plot event solidify about Blake's role in the story?
Gus serves as Joe's side man. He does not say much, but he always agrees with Joe's comments.
Despite Blake feeling like he had done a "whole week's worth of stuff," the story has happened in
These lines show us how much time has passed since the beginning of the story. Watch this video to learn about pacing. (This annotation contains a video)
The pound, as seen below, is the currency of Great Britain. Most other European countries have adopted the euro. (This annotation contains an image)
Which phrase is an example of social context?
Why do you think the boys agreed to not use their cell phones? Consider what is at stake as you think about this question.
What point of view is the author taking about the negative effects of suicide?
In this dialogue, the boys are "making light" of death and suicide. What does this reveal about them?
By reflecting on what is lost when someone dies, the boys are realizing that death is permanent. How will this dialogue shape their perspective of Ross's suicide?
Use the define feature to learn what "reluctant" means.
Which line from the text shows that this story is about coming of age and growing up?
"Ginger" is a popular term people use to refer to redheads.
This line reveals that Blake is still ________ people around him.
The boys have finally arrived in Scotland. Make a prediction about an obstacle they may face here. Do you think they will successfully bury Ross?
Considering the context, what does the phrase "gave us a lift" most likely mean?
The author has introduced new characters, the girls, into the story. Read to find out what their purpose is.
Sometimes authors bring relief to a story by showing the characters feeling comfortable and safe. However, this is often a sign that another conflict is approaching. This literary device makes a story dynamic and interesting.
In 2-3 sentences, explain what Drake means by, "If we can get to Ross tonight."
In 2-3 sentences, explain what Blake means by, "If we can get to Ross tonight."
When interacting with the girls, how are Blake and Kenny different?
Watch this video on Scottish accents. Can you see why the iPhone has a hard time with them? (This annotation contains a video)
This is an image of Dumfries, Scotland. Is this how you imaged it to look based on Blake's description? (This annotation contains an image)
The author has showed us the meaning of the title "Ostrich Boys" for the first time. What does the title most likely mean?
Which line from the text shows another example of social context?
The boys are having a tremendous amount of fun in this part of the story. This is an example of situational irony. Watch this video to learn more about this literary device then consider why this event is an example of situational irony. (This annotation contains a video)
In 2-3 sentences, explain why the author would choose to include imagery about the cottage.
This is a picture of a decrepit cottage. Is this the image the author painted in your head? (This annotation contains an image)
What purpose do the girls serve in this story?
The girls are prepared with essential human needs such as food and water. This brings a sense of relief to the story since Kenny lost these items when he lost his bag.
Which line from the text shows that Blake might have an attraction to Kayleigh?
The author has infused romance into the story, adding another layer of dynamics. Does this element distract from the tragedy of Ross's death?
The girls are onto the boys. They suspect something fishy is going on.
What is Blake trying to conceal from Kaleigh?
Why does the author make Blake exhibit restraint?
The description of this setting brings an eerie feeling to the story. It shows that something tense or suspenseful might happen next.
The author makes an interesting choice with pacing here. The plot has moved in a different direction, and the emphasis is not on Ross at the moment. What could be the purpose of this?
The author uses the word "undergrowth" to show
Is Kenny asking this question to reveal his desire for comradery or his feeling of fear?
Blake and Sim are putting on a ___________ of bravery.
Use the define feature to learn what "alcove" means in order to get a better image in your head of the setting.
Ross's death has brought an element of mystery to this fictional text. The elements of mystery have been illuminated in recent chapters. Explain why the author made this move. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
According to Blake, the group has been on this journey for sixteen hours. Make sure you keep track of pacing as you read.
The description of the dog reveals that it is
This measurement is another example of social context. Since Blake lives in England, he uses the metric system. It is different from the system we use in the United States. Watch this video to learn the basics of the metric system then figure out the measurement that Blake made. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the context, what does "haste" mean?
A suicide pact is an agreement between two or more people to commit suicide. Is that what the boys were doing?
Why does Sim say that Ross's death was not a suicide?
Use the define feature to learn what "galvanized" means.
This is a cliffhanger which is an ending to an episode of a serial drama that leaves the audience in suspense. The author employs this literary device at the end of almost every chapter. Notice this device as you continue reading.
What does this action reveal about Kenny's feelings?
Kayleigh's words and actions reveal that she is __________ about helping the boys.
Blake is trying to assure Kayleigh that she is not going to get into trouble. This is another example of him taking charge of the situation. He is clearly the leader of the "ostrich pack."
Based on the power dynamics between the boys, it is clear that Sim "pretended not to hear" Kenny because he does not trust that Kenny can execute a task correctly.
Based on this cliffhanger, predict what will happen with the police in the next chapter. Once you've read on, go back and see if your prediction was correct.
A suspension is the system of springs and shock absorbers by which a vehicle is cushioned from road conditions. This scooter is giving the boys an unpleasant ride. The condition of the scooter gives the story suspense. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line from the text reveals that Drake is nervous about this adventure-packed ride?
What do you think has happened to Kenny?
Based on the context, what does "grass us up" most likely mean?
Do you think the boys should have just asked Mr. Fell for permission to bury Ross elsewhere in the beginning of the story?
The word "wilting" in this context most likely means
"Ish" is a suffix that people use to show an approximation. Like it was "quaintish" or "smallish." It is a form of slang.
Which literary device is the author employing in these lines?
Why does Blake apologize to Nina in his head?
Why are the people at home "pissed off and angry"?
It is clear that Sim is concerned because he does not want them to get caught before they complete their mission. Consider how Sim and Blake are different. What are their reactions to the situation they are in?
Blake reveals their secret because he is
What happened to Kenny?
Once again Kenny has proven to be an idiot. His idiocy adds suspense to the story because his character inserts conflict into the narrative. This was a smart move the author made.
In 2-3 sentences, explain what you have learned about Ross's death. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
This is a startling discovery. These rooms are often illegal and propel people into the act of suicide.
What does this paragraph reveal about Sim's attitude toward Ross?
This is the first time we have seen Sim divulge so much information about himself. Why do you think the author has him do that at this point in the story? What value does it add to the narrative?
Here, we see a shift in the setting. The boys are now in a tranquil, beautiful place. This signals that the story is coming to an end and that there will be closure. (This annotation contains an image)
The author most likely uses repetition in this line to show that Blake
These lines reveal that Blake is
Blake is longing for his friends because he needs comfort.
Which central idea is revealed through this dialogue?
This image gives a melancholy feel to the story. (This annotation contains an image)