The Black Stallion Challenged
The Black Stallion is the fastest horse in America and he and his jockey, Alec Ramsay, are training for a big race. Suddenly there comes a new challenger: Flame! An unproven racer, the Island Stallion can run like the wind and his jockey, Steve Duncan, knows that Flame will give the Black the race of his life. But what neither Steve nor Alec know, is that these two stallions have met before, and they hate each other.
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1. Fan Mail
The first book in the series, published in 1941, is titled "The Black Stallion." Along with the Black, the series introduces a second stallion that is considered the Black's only equal - The Island Stallion, Flame. This is a separate storyline until Flame and the Black meet in two books - "The Black Stallion and Flame," and "The Black Stallion Challenged," the book you are reading now.
Why does Alec receive many requests for help?
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 "soundness"? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Alec do for a living?
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. In this book, some words are unique to the subject of horse racing and will not be defined in the dictionary. You will have to rely on the words and sentences around the unfamiliar word to figure out the meaning. Try it right now to look up the word "fractious."
In what state does this book take place?
What makes Steve Duncan's letter different from most letters that Alec receives?
2. The Visitor
Here is a picture of Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida. Horse races are still held there throughout the year. (This annotation contains an image)
Which quote from the text proves that Alec and the Black have a mutual bond?
Here is a video from the movie version of the first book showing Alec learning how to ride the Black. Can you see how he would compare this to flying? (This annotation contains a video)
Every story is organized in a pattern called plot. The plot is the series of events that make up the story. Think of the plot as a roller coaster. Strapping yourself into the seat is the first part of the plot, the exposition. This part of the story introduces the characters, setting, and the major conflict. Learn more about the exposition in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
List the details that you have discovered about the setting, characters, and possible conflict as you read the exposition.
You can infer that Steve is serious about racing his horse at Hialeah because he acts confident and determined. Learn more about how to make an inference from the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Alec feel about Steve's chances of winning a race at Hialeah?
Steve demonstrates the character traits of determination and confidence from his conversation with Alec. Learn more about character traits in this video. (This annotation contains a video)
Alec can be described as _____ since he has decided to help Steve.
3. Misty Morning
Use the define function to look up the word "tack." Do any of the definitions match the context of this sentence? This word has a specific meaning related to the subject of horses. A tack room is a room used for storage of supplies for horses: bridles, saddles, tools and feed. Learn more about words with multiple meaning in this video. (This annotation contains a video)
Which details from the text let you know that Alec is a skilled groomer?
What does Henry mean in the highlighted sentence?
The Black has won many races and is exciting to watch so he is compared to Babe Ruth, a famous baseball player who won many games.
The reporter notices that Bolero is a slow runner in the morning. How does Henry's view of Bolero differ from the reporter's view? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Here is a picture of stirrup irons. Riders use stirrups to help them balance on a horse. (This annotation contains an image)
The point of view in a book refers to who is telling the story. The three types of point of view are described in the poster below. Which point of view do you think this story is told from? (This annotation contains an image)
Which word does the author use to indicate that Alec feels embarrassed by not being able to control the Black's speed?
4. The Roll of Thunder …
Conflict is an important part of every story. It is what moves the story along as events continue to happen. In this scene, Alec and Henry are engaging in external conflict; Henry is angry Alec did not follow his directions and Alec is trying to defend himself. As you continue to read, pay attention to the types of conflicts that keep the story moving. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the setting impact the events of the story?
Use the define function to determine the meaning of the word "flogging." Of course, the use of this term is an exaggeration. Explain why the author would use such a term to describe how the maestro could get the band to play.
Click on the words Bugle Calls below, then click "Assemble the Buglers" to hear the "Boots and Saddles" anthem that calls riders to their starting position. (This annotation contains a link)
Which statement makes the best comparison of Alec and Manny as riders?
This sentence contains a simile that compares the way that the horse's legs look walking in the mud to a tall bird. View this video to learn more about similes and metaphors. (This annotation contains a video)
5. … And Hoofs
Good readers adjust the pace of their reading to match the emotion of the text. In this scene the rain has made the horse track dangerous and some of the jockeys are having a difficult time controlling the horses. Are you finding that you are reading faster to find out what will happen in the race?
Which type of figurative language is contained in the highlighted sentence?
The selected sentence lets you know that Alec understands that being a jockey is dangerous. This is called text evidence. In the video below you will learn more about identifying text evidence. (This annotation contains a video)
In the selected paragraph, the narrator tells you what Henry is thinking and uses the pronoun he. From which point of view is the narrator telling the story?
6. Bitter Sweet
A good reader can summarize main points in a story. The race could be summarized this way: Due to the muddy track, several horses and jockeys were injured. View the following video to learn more about summarizing. (This annotation contains a video)
Which statement summarizes Henry's evaluation of Manny's ride in the race?
Use the define function to look up the word "coddled." Which word below is the best synonym for "coddled" as it is used in the sentence?
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 may happen, and suspense is built. As you continue reading, notice events that move the story along and build suspense.
The narrator tells the selected paragraph from the point of view of the surgeon. When the reader is told the thoughts of several characters in the story, the story is being told in the third person omniscient point of view.
How long will the screws remain in Bitter Sweet's leg?
The genre, or category, of this story is realistic fiction. Everything that happens in this story could actually happen in real life. In the video below you will learn more about the characteristics of this genre. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz Chapters 1-6
7. First Start
What does Henry do that lets Alec know the Black will race soon?
In horse racing terms, a "blow out" is a short, timed workout, usually a day or two before a race, designed to sharpen a horse's speed.
When Alec pulls the reins shorter, he shows that he is
What is the difference between a "fast" race and a "blistering" one?
The idea of weight allowances, or assignment of weights to handicap a horse, is to try to even things out by making the better horses carry more weight and giving the less-successful horses a chance by giving them a lighter weight. The weight assignment includes the weight of the jockey, the equipment on the horse and any additional weight required. Does this sound fair to you?
The author's description of the moments waiting for the race to begin increases the tension of the scene. The horses are acting nervous as they are confined in the stalls. The purpose of tension is to increase the mood of the scene. Are you feeling the tension as the horses rear and fidget?
What does the narrator mean in the highlighted sentence?
8. On Camera
Write a sentence summarizing the reporter's evaluation of the race.
Authors use foreshadowing to give a 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 to keep the reader wanting to know more about what will happen. In this paragraph the author foreshadows a race between Flame and the Black.
Explain what Willy means about a jockey's life in the highlighted sentence.
Jockeys have to remain small in order to continue to ride. The average jockey is the weight of an average 14-15 year old boy, about 116 pounds.
Why do the jockeys feel uncomfortable?
9. Men Without Horses
From the descriptions of the jockeys, you can infer that being a jockey is hard on the body.
What is Nick's advice to young riders?
Here is a picture of jockeys weighing in before a race. Notice their weight includes all the equipment that will be placed on the horse. (This annotation contains an image)
Each jockey has different views on the qualities of a successful rider. Do you think one quality is more important than the others?
Use the define feature to look up the meaning of the words "incongruous" and "fortitude." Summarize the reporter's thoughts about Pete's character.
Through the interview with Cornwell, you learn Alec has other horses he is breeding and training for racing. This shows that Alec has a passion for all aspects of horse racing.
What is the danger in putting too much weight on a horse?
What does Willy mean by the highlighted sentence?
Good readers focus on important ideas, ask questions as they read, and predict what will happen next. You have learned so far that the Black is a champion race horse, that horse racing involves strategy, training, and courage, and that Henry is against Alec helping Steve get Flame into the race at Hialeah. Will this cause more conflict between Henry and Alec? Will Flame and the Black race each other? How will strategy and experience affect the race? What predictions can you make about what will happen in the rest of the book?
Steve's small size is ideal for being a jockey.
What surprises Alec as he meets Steve, Pitch, and Flame?
The theme of a story is the overall message that the author wants to convey to the reader. In this book, the theme of love and friendship is developing the plot of the book. Alec has a special bond with the Black. Now, Alec learns Steve has this same kind of bond with Flame. Pay attention to how this theme is developed throughout the rest of the book.
Make a prediction about what you think will happen when Flame and the Black race each other. Will there be "trouble"? Will experience make a difference? Who do you think will win?
11. Red and Black
Alec's experience riding the Black and studying strategies of horse racing has helped him stay out of trouble when racing. Which do you think is more important, experience of the rider or a fast horse?
Compare the video clip of the Black's first race to how Alec remembers it in the text. How are they similar? How are they different?
View the video clip of the Black's first race and answer the question below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which definition of optimism correctly matches the word based on how it is used in the text?
Henry's method of working the Black carefully so he will be sound for a race shows that his character is both cautious and wise.
Flame grew up in the wild, just like the Black. Stallions are not the leader of a herd of horses, but defend and protect their herds. Their instinct to protect makes their behavior aggressive, especially toward other stallions. Do you think Alec and Steve will be able to control their horses enough so they won’t fight?
Why is Alec uneasy?
The author narrates this scene with many details to increase the tension and suspense of the interaction between the horses. As the Black and Flame are running even, did your reading speed increase?
12. News and Sympathy
The spectators' opinions of Flame changed from ___ to ____ with the outcome of the workout.
An idiom is an expression having a special meaning different from the literal meanings of the words. For example, “up a creek without a paddle” refers to a situation involving trouble without any help. The idiom "whistling in the dark" means showing confidence that nothing bad will happen.
Describe the conflict that Alec is having in the selected paragraph. Refer to the annotation about conflict on the first page of chapter 4 if you need help.
Whenever a horse is scratched it means that the horse was entered to run in a race but for some reason will not be able to. This can happen for a number of reasons. It can be from injury, track conditions, or even after they have loaded in the starting gate. It is not unusual for a horse to act up in the gate, and track officials making the decision that is too dangerous for the horse to reload, or the risk of injury is too great. Why has the Black been scratched from the race?
Which word is the best synonym for sore as it is used in the sentence?
Quiz Chapters 7-12
How do you know Alec has resolved his internal conflict?
13. Turf Splendor
Here is a picture of a rider's silks. The colors worn by jockeys in races are the registered "colors" of the owner or trainer who employs them. (This annotation contains an image)
A "Hand" is a unit of measurement equal to 4 inches, used to measure the height of a horse at the highest point of the withers. (This annotation contains an image)
From Henry's comments about the jockeys in the race, you can infer
The narrator is telling the story from the point of view of
"Bide their time" means to be patient.
Read the following fable from Aesop and answer the question below:A young fellow, who was very popular among his companions as a good spender, quickly wasted his fortune trying to live up to his reputation. Then one fine day in early spring he found himself with not a penny left, and no property except the clothes he wore. He was to meet some jolly young men that morning, and he was at his wits' end how to get enough money to keep up appearances. Just then a Swallow flew by, twittering merrily, and the young man, thinking summer had come, hastened off to a clothes dealer, to whom he sold all the clothes he wore down to his very tunic. A few days later a change in weather brought a severe frost; and the poor swallow and that foolish young man in his light tunic, and with his arms and knees bare, could scarcely keep life in their shivering bodies. One swallow does not make a summer.How does this fable relate to the story?
14. The "Big Two"
Good readers make connections to the text. Horse racing tracks are either made of grass or dirt. Some horses run better on one type of track rather than the other. This can compare to other sports, like tennis. Some players perform better on clay courts than grass courts. In this story, the Black runs well on either track. Do you think Flame will run just as well on dirt?
The fact that Flame has won the race increases the tension of the story. Now he has proven that he is a strong match for the Black. This event is part of the rising action of the story leading up to the climax.
What makes Steve decide to race in the Widener?
Henry is content with the weight assigned to the Black because he has raced with that weight before and is confident it won't hurt him.
Explain why the assigned handicaps makes the reporter question the handicapper.
Which word is an antonym for illustrious?
All the press coverage of this race has heightened the anticipation of seeing two evenly matched horses race each other. Which horse are you rooting for?
Henry's comments to the reporter indicate that he is not nervous about the race. Do you think he really is as calm as he says? Do you have butterflies about the race?
What do Henry and Alec do to prepare for the race?
16. Scale Up, Scale Down
What do the jockeys do to relax before the race?
The highlighted idiom means because one good thing has happened, you cannot be certain that more good things will happen.
The narrator tells the story from ____ point of view.
The highlighted text supports the theme of love and friendship. Alec becomes one with the Black when racing; a bond that has developed over time.
Why is Steve angry?
17. The Widener Handicap
Why is being nonchalant a disadvantage?
The top of the roller coaster is the point where you can’t go up any higher, the point of highest tension. In a plot, this is the climax. We, the readers, have anticipated the race between Flame and the Black since Steve first met Alec, so the race is the climax of this story.
The backstretch is the straightway on the farther side of an oval racecourse that is usually opposite the finish line.
What does the narrator mean by the word "dead"?
The horses were too close together to see clearly who won the race, so the photographs will have to be examined to declare a winner. Write your prediction of which horse won the race. How do you think each rider will react?
18. Another Day, Another Story
Even though the jockeys are fierce competitors on the track, they are friendly and respectful toward each other afterwards. Do you think Steve will have the same attitude?
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. The Black has won the race and will enter the winner's circle.
Explain why Steve is upset about losing the race.
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. Alec and Steve have parted as friends and Steve will go to his island as Alec remains in the horse world. Do you think Steve will write his book?
Quiz Chapters 13-18