The Diary of Melanie Martin: Or How I Survived Matt the Brat, Michelangelo, and the Leaning Tower of Pizza

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Dear Diary, You will never in a million years guess where I'm going....Italy! In Europe!! Across the ocean!!! I even have a passport. It's really cool, except I'm squinting my eyes in the photo, so I look like a dork. At least that's what my brother said. I call him Matt the Brat. You would too. Trust me.... When Melanie Martin heads to Italy on a family vacation with her art-obsessed mom, her grumpy dad, and her little brother, she has no idea what she's in for. As she discovers Michelangelo, Italian ice cream, and poetry, she also realizes how much her family means to her. Maybe she won't trade them in after all.
Curriculet Details
33 Questions
36 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for elementary school students contains interactive videos exploring character traits and making inferences, as well as annotations describing figurative language and asking questions. Students will explore the themes of self-discovery and family bonds. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - March 1 - Home in Bed

This story is part of Melanie Martin's diary. A diary is written like a letter with the date, greeting, body, and closing. The difference between a diary and a letter is a diary is a person's thoughts or feelings and is meant to be secret. Do you have a diary? If not, you may be inspired to start one after reading this novel. 
Why is the family going to Italy? 

Chapter 2 - March 12 - At my Desk

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 to determine the meaning of the word utter. Which word below is the best meaning of utter as it is used in this passage? 

Chapter 4 - March 18 - Bedtime

Determining the point of view of a novel will help you understand the story. This video explains point of view.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 5 - Macrh 19 - On Board!!!

From which point of view is this novel told? 
Jet-lag happens when people fly through a different time zone. The map below shows the time zones around the world. Melanie's family is flying out of New York, which is indicated in light green. Italy is blue. When it is 2pm in New York it is 8pm in Italy, so there is a six hour time difference, which is several time zones.  (This annotation contains an image)
During this stressful situation, Melanie helps Matt by distracting him. What does this tell you about Melanie? 
To "wolf something down" is an expression that means she ate the pastry quickly. 
Why does Melanie keep coming up with poems? 
This is a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a famous Italian landmark. (This annotation contains an image)
If you could talk to Melanie what advice would you give her? Should she stay in the car or get out with her family? Include reasons why you think she should follow your advice. 
The site below has more information about the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the facts you read on the website above, are the Italians trying to correct some of the tower's tilt? 
Even though this story is fiction, the landmarks Melanie is describing are real. Here is a bell tower in Florence similar to the one described in this section.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the author, Carol Weston, including the information about the paintings in the museum? 
Here is a close-up of the statue of David.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Melanie think her Dad "...can't believe they are related?" 
This paragraph shows Melanie's jealousy towards her brother. Do you ever feel jealous when someone else is treated differently than you? 
Quiz for Section 1 

Chapter 6 - March 22 - On Board a Train

"Being observant" is a character trait. When reading a novel, you should think about a character's traits to help you understand the character and her actions. This video explains character traits.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which statement below lets you know that Melanie is an observant person? 
You can tell from Dad's conversation that he is frustrated. He probably did not expect to be talking about "tushes" and "tails" during the picnic. 
This video gives a little more information about birth order. Are you the oldest, youngest, or an only child? Do you agree with what the video says about you?  (This annotation contains a video)
Think about what the above video says about your birth order. Do you agree or disagree with the video? Give reasons to support your answer. 

Chapter 7 - March 23 - Afternoon at the Pensione

On the website below, click on the play button and you will get a panoramic view of Puccini's house and courtyard. (This annotation contains a link)
How does the website above help you understand this novel? 
Sometimes Melanie writes her diary entries in smaller font. It usually indicates that her mood is changing. In this case she just got hollered at by her father, so she is feeling upset. 
Why is Melanie feeling homesick? 
Melanie is comparing her poetry assignment to a "lavender-gray rain cloud". When an object or person is compared using 'like' or 'as' it is a form of figurative language called a simile. Look for other similes in this novel. 
Why does Melanine use the words next and then when describing her cooking lesson? 
Have you ever decided to never speak again because you are so angry over a situation? If you've done that, you can connect to Melanie. Readers connect to the characters in a story so they can better understand them. 
Why does Melanie decide to share her poem with Matt? 
Sometmes you have to determine the meaning of a word by using context clues, or the other words around it. "Parco" is an Italian word so you may not know what it means. You can read that people do many things at a parco like rollerblade and jog. Also the article 'a' lets you know that the word is a noun. From these clues you would be correct in deciding that "parco" means park. 

Chapter 8 - March 25 - Janiculum Hill

Reread this paragraph. Which statement below best describes why Melanie wrote this paragraph? 
You can infer from these sentences that the sculptures Mom is taking the family to are in or near churches. This video explains how to make inferences when reading.  (This annotation contains a video)
After Melanie is done sharing her poem, her parents did not comment on it immediately. What can you infer from this? 
This is a very common expression. It is often used to mean it takes time to make great things. 
Why do Melanie and her Mom go to the emergency room? 
The Vatican is a city within Rome. The Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church, lives here.  (This annotation contains an image)
The Sistine Chapel is a famous church in Rome. It has many paintings on the ceiling and all around for people to view.  (This annotation contains an image)
After viewing the photograph of the Sistine Chapel, why do you think Melanie's Mom left her to wait there? 
Matt confuses Madonna the singer with Madonna, the Virgin Mary. Did you know there was a difference? 
Using context clues, what do you think a "must-see" is? 
Here is a photo of The Last Judgment.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Melanie signing her name (above) with flowers, swirls, and no 'e' on the end? 
Matt and Melanie are having an honest conversation about their relationship. Do you think this would have happened if Matt had not gotten lost? 
Matt's mouth is "...flopped open like a fish..." This is an example of which type of figurative language? 
This trip to Italy is helping Melanie think about how she treats others at home. 
Why is it written that Matt's tongue was "...poking out of his mouth"? 
Since Sophia gives Dad a big hug and Mom appears to not be pleased, you can infer that Sophia is probably Dad's ex-girlfriend. 
Why does Melanie think her Mom wants to "slug" her Dad? 
Matt seems to enjoy the new guests. 
Which definition below best describes how flirting is used in the passage? 
Quiz for Section 2 

Chapter 9 - March 28 - Afternoon in the Car

Do you have a parent or older person who corrects your grammar? Do you think they should do this, or just let you speak whichever way you want? 
Why does Mom suggest the children look for their postcards in the museum like a "treasure hunt"? 
Sometimes you are asked to write a summary of a chapter or a novel. This video explains summaries.  (This annotation contains a video)
Write a summary of Chapter 9. Be sure to include all of the important events. 

Chapter 10 - March 29 - Morning

Calling Melanie a writer is a very nice thing for Matt to say. Those kind words may help her write her poem before she gets home. 
Why does Melanie sign her diary "Mixed-up Mel"? 
Novels have themes, or underlying messages. This video explains themes. What are some themes in this story?  (This annotation contains a video)
To see if you learned about art from reading this book, answer Mom's questions below. Be sure to answer all three! 
This statement from Dad is a change from what Melanie has been hearing the whole trip. She is being used as a positive example. 
Why does Melanie want to play Hangman? 
What do you think of Melanie's poem? Do you think her parents will like it? Read on to find out. 
How is Melanie feeling when she "rolls her eyes and mumbles"? 
While Melanie's feelings about Norbert may have changed, it appears the rest of the class is still teasing him. 
Based on the highlighted sentence, what can you infer about Melanie? 
To compare this poem to the first poem. you can reread the first poem by going to your checkpoints. Find the first poem's annotation. It is in Chapter 10. 
How is this poem different from Melanie's first poem? Include details from both poems in your response.  

Chapter 11 - March 31 - Bedtime

Quiz for Section 3