By Chris Grabenstein

Copyright Date: 2013

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Lexile Reading Level: 720

Grade Level Recommendation: 4th Grade

Common Core State Standard: (From the teachers’ guide linked here and below)

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

Suggested Delivery: Aloud, in small groups, or independent

Key Vocabulary:

  • obsolete: no longer in general use; fallen into disuse
  • bizarre: markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd
  • demolition: the act or state of being destructive
  • sly: stealthy, insidious, or secret
  • athenaeum: an institution for the promotion of literary or scientific learning.
  • transcontinental: passing or extending across a continent
  • locomotive: a self-propelled, vehicular engine, powered by steam, a diesel, or electricity, for pulling or , sometimes, pushing a train or individual railroad cars.
  • undoubtedly: without a doubt
  • memorandum: a short note designating something to be remembered, especially something to be done or acted upon in the future; reminder

Reading Strategies:

  • Before: Have a discussion about what students know about a library.  If the students seem to not know much about how a library works, take them to the school library.  If possible it could make a fun field trip to go to the town library with the students.
  • During: Ask the students to make predictions about who they think will escape form the library first.  Tell the students to write what they predict the clues will say when they are all put together.
  • After:  Give the students a chance to create their own code to crack.  Have them write vocabulary words in the code and give them to other students to solve.

Electronic Resources:

  • Teacher’s Guide – This is an AWESOME teachers’ guide.  It has activities, discussion questions, connections to the common core state standards, and more.

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