Three Black Swans

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Lives are in the balance in bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney's newest young adult thriller, Three Black Swans. Missy and her cousin Claire are best friends who finish each other's sentences and practically read each other's minds. It's an eerie connection-so eerie that Missy has questions she wants to put to her parents. But she's afraid to ask. So when Missy hears an expert discussing newborn babies on the radio, it makes her wonder about her family. Missy just can't let go of those nagging questions, and decides to use a school project about scientific hoaxes to try to uncover the answers. She enlists Claire to help. As part of the project the girls perform a dramatic scene that is captured on video at school. After the video is posted on YouTube, Missy and Claire realize that they've opened Pandora's box and much more than they ever imagined has come out. Not only are their identities called into question, but so is the future of everyone involved. In this riveting, heartrending story by thriller author Caroline B. Cooney, the truth changes the lives of three families-as the bonds of blood must withstand the strains of long-hidden secrets that are at last revealed. From the Hardcover edition.
Curriculet Details
57 Questions
62 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9th and 10th grades, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining setting, figurative language and reading strategies. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about theme and plot details. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of characterization, diction, and structure. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter I

The video below discusses similes and metaphors. After you watch, consider where the simile is located in the highlighted text. (This annotation contains a video)
Like the video about similes, the video below discusses a similar literary device. This time, the video is about personification. As you watch, consider how the highlighted text uses this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text includes both personification and a simile. Explain the ways in which these devices are used here. What kind of effect do they create? 
Below is an image of a pterodactyl. (This annotation contains an image)
Using context clues to form an inference, choose the option that offers the best possible setting for this novel. 
Did you make the correct inference? Were you able to deduce that Missy lives in a state in the Northeast where there are distinct seasons? 
The metaphor in the highlighted text offers a telling characterization of Missy. Choose the option that reveals this trait of Missy's. 
The interesting video below discusses the differences between the types of twins, which are currently being discussed in the novel. (This annotation contains a link)
How close are you to your cousins? Is your relationship like the "normal" one that the narrator describes, or is it more like Missy and Claire's relationship? 
Choose the word that best describes the relationship between Claire and Missy. 
What information does the narrator use to insinuate the fact that Claire's dad would drive her all the way to Missy's school? 
According to Missy's teacher, hoaxes are about more than clever answers; they are about using research to support the findings, in order to make people believe in this hoax. Has Missy satisfied the requirements of this assignment, or is she being a bit hasty? 
The emotions that each of these girls are feeling about the hoax reveal a lot about their characters. How do these girls differ, with relation to this plan? 
Cashmere is a type of luxurious fiber that has been highly sought after for many, many years. Its origins help to clarify its expense and popularity. Sabrina Azadi, writer for the Los Angeles Times, clarifies this in her article "Cashmere's soft and warm appeal." According to Azadi, "Cashmere. Just the sound of it conjures images of sophistication. Like caviar and pearls, the fiber has humble beginnings. Who would think that the hair on the underbelly of the Mongolian goat would be in such high demand? But it has been for centuries, and because there is relatively little of it and because processing costs are high, it has traditionally been an expensive indulgence." (This annotation contains an image)
What is amiss with this statement? 
What portions of this story could point to the fact that these girls are in fact twins? What do you think? Are they or aren't they twins? 

Chapter II

The video below discusses direct and indirect characterization. As you watch, consider the ways in which each of the characters have been characterized, thus far. (This annotation contains a video)
From the highlighted text, we learn that Claire pays very close attention to the small details of things. What type of characterization reveals this fact to the reader? 
Reread the highlighted text, then decide if it is an example of situational irony or coincidence. Once you have decided, explain your answer. 
The video below discusses the difference between situational irony and coincidence. (This annotation contains a video)
Hyperbole is used quite often in everyday speech. This device is defined as extreme exaggeration, in order to add emphasis. What point is the narrator attempting to make in adding the hyperbole in the highlighted text? 
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? 
The highlighted text contains hyperbole. Using context clues from the text, craft a definition for this type of figurative language. 
The author of this novel seems to really like using figurative language. In the highlighted text, the author uses anaphora (repetition of words at the beginning of successive sentences) to make the point more clear. 
What does this statement reveal about Missy's experience with boys? 
How does Missy attempt to justify to her peers and teacher the actions that led to their anger toward her? 
The highlighted text includes information that forces the reader to make inferences about Missy's house. Choose the inference that cannot be made using this paragraph. 
According to, first cousins are 12.5% genetically related. That is quite a bit different from sharing 50% of the same genes. 
Often authors choose to title their chapters. This novel does not include this feature. How does adding titles to chapters add to or take away from a novel? Which option do you prefer? 

Chapter III

Robinson Crusoe is a classic adventure novel by Daniel Defoe.  (This annotation contains an image)
What does the narrator use to juxtapose Missy's normal practices with her current search for the truth? 
The short video below describes foreshadowing. This device is used often throughout this novel, as well as many other pieces of writing, in order to give hints about events to come later in the plot. (This annotation contains a video)
What might the addition of this information foreshadow? Why do you think that the author has chosen to include these thoughts of Claire's? 
According to the speaker on the radio, what variable can lead to a parent mistaking his/her twins as fraternal, as opposed to identical? 
Did you know that in extreme circumstances, twin to twin transfusion syndrome can occur in an identical twin pregnancy? The American Pregnancy Association sums up this syndrome best by explaining that it "occurs when there is a connection in the two babies’ blood vessels of their shared placenta. This results in one baby (this twin is referred to as the recipient) receiving more blood flow, while the other baby (this twin is referred to as the donor) receives too little." (This annotation contains an image)
Reread the highlighted statement. What does it mean to you? How do you interpret this statement? 
The highlighted text contains one of the first references to black swans, which relates to the title of this novel. Make a conjecture as to the way in which Missy's father's explanation pertains to the novel. When crafting your answer, consider plot, theme, and structure. 

Chapter IV

The highlighted text contains a great example of imagery. Reread the opening lines of these chapters; all the while, try to picture the setting. If it's easy, that is because the author did such a great job using imagery to set the scene. (This annotation contains an image)
Using the description of Genevieve's relationship with her parents, choose the word that best describes the relationship among this girl and her parents. 
Based upon the ways in which Genevieve and her parents are characterized, it is clear that her family is well-to-do. Why do you think that this family, which is different from the others that we have encountered thus far, have been introduced in the novel? What role will they play? 
Use the Define feature to determine the meaning of the highlighted word. Next, choose the sentence that offers the best use of this word. 
A Treo is a smartphone that was originally sold around 2002. This type of smartphone was discontinued in 2008. (This annotation contains an image)
Make a prediction as to the reason why Jimmy thinks that "the weird part was standing in from of [him]." 
The map below illustrates the border between New York and Connecticut, so you have a visual of the closeness of the two settings of the novel thus far. (This annotation contains an image)
Salvador Dali was a 20th century artist best known for his surreal paintings, like the one below. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the most likely reason that the highlighted text is italicized? 
Quiz #1 

Chapter V

The highlighted text contains personification. With that in mind, choose the option below that also uses this type of figurative language. 
Swan Lake is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. This ballet tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason do people around Genevieve's parents envy this couple? 
The video below includes three mean singing tenor. (This annotation contains a link)
A decree of adoption serves to finalize an adoption. In this document, the new parents are named, along with the adoption date and the child's name. 
What does the story that Genevieve has created about her biological mother say about her personality? 
The highlighted text contains an example of antithesis. In order to better understand this type of figurative language, watch the short video below. (This annotation contains a link)
What do you think? Does learning that you have two identical siblings serve to make up for the fact that the people that raised you are not your biological parents? 
Doctors determine the lettering of babies, while they are in the womb, by determining their placements in the womb. For instance, the baby closest to the birth canal is often called Baby A. 
What type of mother is Genevieve's? 

Chapter VI

The term 'mind's eye' refers to the ability of a human to visualize images in one's mind. Did you know that this term was coined by William Shakespeare, when he used it in Hamlet? (This annotation contains an image)
Currently, Genevieve is depending on _________________ to unite her with her sisters. 
Based on Claire's reaction, what can be inferred about what Claire has seen on her phone? 
What does the narrator mean by these questions? How could twins be "ghosts of each other"? 
It's become clear that Missy's and Claire's parents do not have a clue as to the true identities of their children. Does this answer any questions that you have had up to this point? 
The highlighted text contains ___________________. 
In using a simile to compare the message to a fire, what point is the narrator trying to make? 
Have you noticed that the author uses quite a bit of figurative language in order to make her points more clear? In the highlighted text, hyperbole is used to exaggerate the idea that Missy has the ability to greatly affect the lives of her friends and family. 
Choose the option that offers the figurative meaning of the idiom 'cold turkey.' 

Chapter VII

It's interesting to note the fact that Claire believes these girls' parents have known this secret that is unfolding and have kept it from them for years. How does that compare to Genevieve's understanding? 
Using what you know about Missy and Claire, make an inference as to the reason why Claire would be so resistant to believing that there is a third person (sister) involved in this scenario. 
Triplets are a group of notes that are played in the time of two. (This annotation contains an image)
Grand Central Terminal is a commuter railroad terminal that is located in New York City. (This annotation contains an image)
What information presented in this chapter reveals that Claire does not like change? 
According to the text, why does Missy believe that Genevieve is the oldest of the three girls? 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a well-known museum in New York City. It is the largest museum in the United States. (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason does the author include the repetition of 'cute little' in the highlighted sentence? 

Chapter VIII

Based on the information provided in the highlighted paragraph, what quality is revealed about Ned? 
The Wall Street Journal is an international newspaper that focuses on business and economic news. It was founded in the 1889. (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason has the author chosen to base this portion of the chapter on Ned Candler? He is a smaller character, so what does his presence add? 
Could the narrator be talking about 19 Kids and Counting? This reality television show on TLC follows the lives of the Duggar parents and their 19 kids. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the narrator, what type of baby (in the womb) was Missy? 
Stamford Station is a metro train station in Stamford, CT. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the narrator use to prove that there is a truth that exists for Kitty? 
Based on the information presented in the paragraph above, what can be inferred as to the time of year in which the current events are taking place? 
The map below exhibits the location of Manhattan in relation to other well-known areas of New York City. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz #2 

Chapter IX

Do you agree with this statement? Why might Genevieve feel this way? 
For what reason does Genevieve assume that her parents adopted her? 
Based on the information presented in the text, what colors does Claire usually wear? 
Is the meeting of these girls really life or death? Why might this have been added to the novel? How does it add suspense to the events? 
What do you think? Do you believe in the idea that multiples have the ability to have the same thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc. as one another? 
The video below includes a little snippet of a Jazzercise routine. (This annotation contains a link)
Make a prediction as to the reason for Claire's mother's thoughts. Why might she feel the way that she does about the events that are unfolding? 
What is the impact of the author's use of real technological tools like YouTube, Google, etc.? How would the story change, if the author were to provide fictional names for these well-known pieces of technology? (This annotation contains an image)
Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted text? 
Does this mean that these people have Missy unlawfully? Why don't they have a birth certificate? 
Did you know that a Certificate of Live Birth is different from a Birth Certificate? The Certificate of Live Birth is the first unofficial draft of the fact that a mother gave birth to a child. The Birth Certificate is the official record declaring the birth, the place in which it took place, etc. (This annotation contains an image)
Why doesn't Missy's father want to hire a lawyer? 
What inferences can be made as to the meaning of these words spoken by Genevieve's mother? 

Chapter X

Summarize the meaning of this hyperbole. What is the narrator trying to get across to the reader? 
For what reason does the narrator include this detail into the text? 
Is it at all ironic that this man is making a statement like this to his daughter? Does he have the right to make a request like this of her? 
You may remember that the narrator chose earlier to discuss the fact that these girls prefer colorful clothing, not drab colors. 
What conclusion does the narrator allude to, as to the reason why Genevieve has decided not to meet the girls in New York? 
The highlighted text includes a creepy example of personification. Can you picture the fear (a non-human thing) filling (a human-like quality) Vivi's head? 
Into what stage of the plot does this chapter fall? 

Chapter XI

What story did Ned and Allegra provide to their friends to cover-up the decision that they had made regarding their triplets? 
Below is a picture of what the narrator is referring to. Early cell phones looked nothing like what they have evolved into. (This annotation contains an image)
Using the Define feature, as well as context clues, choose the option below that correctly uses the highlighted word. 
Keep in mind that these details reveal a trait that has not truly been revealed in Ned's character. He is a loving father. 
In making this statement, Genevieve is comparing her limbs to... 
Are you at all surprised by these statements? Why might Allegra feel this way? 

Chapter XII

The highlighted text contains a simile. In it, the narrator is comparing the act of Claire staring to the act of performing laser surgery. Does this word choice help you to picture the scene more easily? (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason are these details included in the novel? 
Think carefully. What type of figurative language is employed in the highlighted text? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you know from the story, what would you do, if you were in Claire's position? Would you go home to the parents that you have known during your entire life, or would you start a new life with your biological parents and sisters? 
Why didn't Ned and Allegra hold Missy and Claire? 
Interstate 495 is a highway on Long Island. The route extends for 71 miles starting in the western portal of the Queens–Midtown Tunnel in the New York City borough of Manhattan. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the paragraph above, how do Claire and Genevieve compare to one another? 
Yet again, the author references swans. This time she references the swimming of these creatures in a lake. Break down the meaning attached to these statements. What point is the author trying to get across to the reader about these "swans"? 
A baby swan is a cygnet. (This annotation contains an image)
The video discusses theme. As you watch, consider a theme or themes that are present within this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Consider a theme that could be attributed to this novel. What is it? Is there another novel that you have read or a movie that you have watched that shares the same theme? 
Quiz #3