The Wreckers

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There was once a village bred by evil. On the barren coast of Cornwall, England, lived a community who prayed for shipwrecks, a community who lured storm-tossed ships to crash upon the sharp rocks of their shore. They fed and clothed themselves with the loot salvaged from the wreckage; dead sailors' tools and trinkets became decorations for their homes. Most never questioned their murderous way of life. Then, upon that pirates' shore crashed the shipThe Isle of Skye.And the youngest of its crew members, 14-year-old John Spencer, survived the wreck. But would he escape the wreckers? This is his harrowing tale.
Curriculet Details
56 Questions
69 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for middle school students contains interactive videos exploring characters and conflict, as well as annotations describing figurative language, imagery, and nautical terms. Students will explore the themes of good versus evil and greed. 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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1. The Wreck

After reading Iain Lawrence's biography, describe two ways in which water plays an important role in his life. 
The Wreckers is an adventure novel. These types of novels typically have lots of danger, risk, and excitement. As you read, see if you can identify these aspects in the story. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text? 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. For example, you may not know what a brig is so try the define feature to look it up. This is a great tool to help you quickly improve your vocabulary! 
The Wreckers is the first novel in The High Seas Trilogy written by Iain Lawrence. Please visit the author's website and read his biography. (This annotation contains a link)
Below is a picture of a speaking trumpet. What's a more modern word for this item? (This annotation contains an image)
This is a painting of a brig (a two-masted sailing ship). (This annotation contains an image)
This paragraph contains three similes. Watch the video below, then go back to the highlighted text and see if you can identify all three. (This annotation contains a video)
In this simile, what are the two things being compared? 
Look below at the map of the English Channel (the waterway between England and France). Father believes the land they see is Plymouth, but the crew thinks differently. Examine the map closely to see where they might be. (This annotation contains an image)
All of the following are hints from that text that something is wrong EXCEPT 

2. A Drowning

Watch the video below about setting. Based off of what you have read so far, what is the time (when) and place (where)? Why do you think this? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is this area called "The Tombstones"? 
In this chapter, we learn a lot about John. Watch the video below to learn more about characters. (This annotation contains a video)
Read this short response to an eight-year-old girl's question "Why are boats called she"? (This annotation contains a link)
Use the define feature to read the definition for moor. Which geographical feature is an antonym for moor? 
Watch the video below. Reread the highlighted text. What can you clearly "see" because of the author's use of imagery (descriptive language). (This annotation contains a video)
In this chapter, what character trait best describes John? Provide two examples from the text in your response. 

3. The Legless Man

It is obvious that John is lying because 
Look at the chapter title. Notice how the title leads you to a conclusion before you read it in the text. Titles are important text features that help us understand what we are reading. 
Notice how the author builds suspense by including sound. How does this make you feel as you read? What is John's reaction to the sound of horses? 
What do the legless man's words indicate? 
Do you think John is a coward for crying? Why or why not? 
What might this small gesture reveal about Stumps' true feelings? 
Watch the video below about internal and external conflicts. (This annotation contains a video)
All of the following are external conflicts in this chapter EXCEPT 

4. Galilee

This is a metaphor comparing Stratton to a hoop on a barrel. Mawgan and Parson Tweed explain how the other wreckers follow him (they are compared to the staves, or wooden pieces, of the barrel). See the image below of a barrel with hoops and staves. (This annotation contains an image)
At this point in the novel, which character trait best fits Mawgan? 
Use the Table of Contents tab to navigate back to the map. Examine the area being described in this chapter. 
Watch the video below to learn about point of view. What is the point of view of this novel? Who is the narrator? (This annotation contains a video)
What does John's narration reveal? 
Does this description of Eli remind you of any characters from other novels? One possible text-to-text connection is an Avox from The Hunger Games. This is a person who is punished by the Capitol for rebelling by having his or her tongue cut out. This person is forever a mute (he or she cannot talk). What do you think happened to Eli to make him this way? 
These short paragraphs emphasize  
Do you think Magwan believes John? Why or why not? 
As it is used in the text, nonchalance most closely means 

5. A Row of Bodies

Dreams play an important role in stories. They can be used by authors as a technique called foreshadowing (hints or clues about future events) or can reveal a character's deepest thoughts and feelings. Watch the video below. What might John's dream mean? (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted line imply? 
If you remember back to the map, London is to the east. Why might John be conflicted between the west and east? 
John most likely tells Mary the truth about his father because 
In this simile, Mary compares Stumps to a magpie collecting things. See image below. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize in a sentence or two the important information Mary tells John in this chapter. 

6. The Haunted Cove

These false beacons are lanterns that the wreckers are using to make sailors think they are seeing lighthouses. See the image below of a beacon or lighthouse. (This annotation contains an image)
What's the significance of Mary's story? 
Animals are known to have great instincts. Watch this interesting video about animal instincts. Can you think of any examples when animals predicted danger? (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following best describes the overall mood? 
Watch the video about tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think Mary comes up with this plan? Is it a good one? Why or why not? 
Quiz Chapters 1-6 

7. The Evil Eye

Mary's use of tetched most closely means 
Why might John be curious about other survivors? 
Who is Mawgan most likely scolding? 
Notice how quickly Mawgan's mood changes after John makes the prisoner comment. 
What is the most likely reason for Mawgan discrediting Eli and his message to John? 
Pilchards are commonly known as sardines. See image below. Why is Mary so excited about the "starry-gazy," but John thinks it's absolutely disgusting? (This annotation contains an image)
Should John trust Mawgan? Give two details from the text to support your answer. 
Make a prediction: what is actually in the barrels on the Isle of Skye? 

8. The Mystery of the Barrels

All of the following are hints about the Isle of Skye's suspicious activities EXCEPT 
Below is a picture of a gunwale. It's like saying something is "filled to the brim" or filled to the top. (This annotation contains an image)
In this passage, what does John realize? 
This line is italicized because it comes from Chapter 1 and John is remembering what Captain Stafford said. From the start, the captain did not approve of the voyage. 
Watch the video about theme. What themes are developing in the novel? (This annotation contains a video)
These types of comments from Mawgan carry a(n) _______________ tone. 
Does Mary really understand her uncle's true character or does she just make excuses for his bad behavior? 
Visit this website to see examples of dolmens (also known as cromlechs) from around the world. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following pieces of information is the most important from this chapter? 

9. A Ship Embayed

The author's imagery appeals to our sense of hearing. What is the man doing? 
Since the beginning of the novel, how has John changed? Give an example from earlier in the text and compare it to his behavior in this chapter. 
Reread the hymn. What do the people want? 
This is similar to crowds watching gladiators fight in Ancient Rome. Can you think of any other connections? 
What does Mawgan's relationship with the Old Widow suggest? 

10. Wrapped in Chains

Mary visits the graves of her deceased family members and friends and honors them with flowers. 
John's thoughts reinforce 
In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Rue use a whistle as a signal too. Listen to the tune below. (This annotation contains a video)
As John searches for his father, memories of his mother come flooding back. 
Which of the following items would you most likely find in a chandlery (use the define feature to learn its definition)? 
John not being able to swim was also a problem for him when the Isle of Skye was shipwrecked. See how John compensates for his lack of swimming skills. 
What is Stumps planning to do? 
Who is the mysterious man waiting for them? 

11. A Gargoyle Come to Life

What is the most likely reason for John's lie? 
John decides to come up with his own plan and ignores his father's original plan. Do you think he makes the right decision? What would you do in John's situation? 
What do the barnacles indicate? 
See a picture below of the figurehead on a ship. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how this simile is a fitting description of Stumps on the roof. Use your knowledge of his character in the text to answer the question. 

12. A Stone for a Heart

This is Parson Tweed's rationale as to why it was okay to kill Stumps. But is it true? Can you think back to any of Stumps' actions that reveal he did indeed have a heart? 
What is the most convincing reason for Mary to trust the parson? 
The old woman, or widow, brings an element of the supernatural with her. She seems to have an otherworldly quality to her. Her presence creates an even eerier mood. 
What word best captures the villagers' feelings about the ship making it past the Tombstones? 
Quiz Chapters 7-12 

13. Four Together

Notice a change in Mary's mood. Why does she seem disappointed? 
The relationship between Mary's uncles can best be described as 
Watch the video below. This is an example of situational irony because the wreckers lured their own people among the Tombstones and they died. Can you think of any other examples from earlier in the novel? (This annotation contains a video)
This simile displays that Eli is 
Could this simile be a possible example of foreshadowing for Eli? Do you think he'll survive? 
Why won't anyone help Eli? Give two details from the text in your answer. 

14. A Terrifying Decision

The packet is a ship. This means it's a chance for John to go home to London. 
What does John lose if he agrees to go with Mawgan to the pocket? 
The author characterizes both the wind and the sea almost like people. This is a type of figurative language called personification (giving human qualities to inanimate things). 
The origins of the conflict between Simon and Eli seem to center around 
Godspeed is an old saying meaning success or good fortune. 

15. Across the Moor

Why is John making the right decision by rescuing his father? Provide two text-based details in your response. 
Are there hints earlier in the text about the dangers of the moor? 
Why is the loss of the hammer and file so devastating to John? 
Mary was right in telling John to stay away from the road. 
Why is John concerned about the tide? 
John's struggle shows the importance of the tools he lost down the mine shaft. He would have been able to free his father if he kept the tools. What will happen now? 

16. A Dead Man Rises

What does the parson's saying mean? 
Imagine the condition John's father must be in after spending days in a tunnel that is dark, damp, and full of rats. 
What is Parson Tweed's real reason for helping rescue John's father? 
Father's reaction to the parson's demand suggests 
Is this true after what he did to Stumps and Eli? 
Think over the events in this novel. The greed and evil of the people of Pendennis brings terrible consequences (many people have died as a result). Who is mostly to blame for all of this death? 
What is actually in the barrels? 
John's opinion of his father changes throughout the book. What does John's description tell us about his feelings towards his father in this moment? 
Watch the video below about symbolism. There are many symbols throughout the novel. Can you think of any examples? (This annotation contains a video)

17. False Beacons

In these lines, who does John seem to be addressing? 
What are some hints or clues from earlier in the text that came true later? 
In this passage, the scene is set for the conflict between _____________ and _____________ to play out once and for all. 
In literature, light symbolizes many things like life, goodness, love, etc. What does light symbolize in this novel (think about the use of lanterns)? 
What color would the glass be if Simon were trying to attract ships to shore? 
During a wrecking, Simon is mostly motivated by ______________ to show the corpse lights. 
John finally learns the truth about Mawgan. Explain two misunderstandings he believed about Mawgan by citing specific details from the text. 
Stumps may serve as a useful distraction while John tries to stop the wreckers. Keep reading to discover John's plan and to see if it will work. 
The widow's warning is an example of what literary term? 

18. Men of Fire

John is incredibly brave to go against the wreckers. He is outnumbered many to one. 
This is an example of descriptive, yet haunting, imagery. You can picture these events clearly in your mind because of the author's descriptive language. 
John's heroic actions 
Why does Mawgan most likely tell Mary the truth about everything except the Rose of Sharon? 
Read the Author's Note after the final quiz for some fascinating historical background! 
Chapters 13-18