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A Tale of Two Castles

Last updated Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Author: Gail Carson Levine
Illustrator: Greg Call
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 9780061229657
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2011

Synopsis: Elodie leaves her family in pursuit of her dreams of becoming a masioner. But her best laid plans change instantly upon arrival in the town of Two Castles. There are no apprenticeships, and Elodies copper is stolen so she has no money. She meets the dragon, Meenore, in town and finds herself agreeing to be ITs assistant. Meenore is no ordinary dragon. She is a mystery solving dragon, brilliant in the game of observation and deductive reasoning. Elodies first case with Meenore involves the Ogre that lives in one of the two castles in town. Count Jonty Um is a giant, shape shifting Ogre whos greatest desire is to be liked and respected by the townspeople who clearly do not like him. Count Jonty Um seeks out the help of Meenore when his dog is stolen. Elodie soon finds that this mystery is much more than finding a missing dog. Its about saving the Ogres life and maybe even her own.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Start by asking what they think the book is about after looking at the title and cover. Then, read aloud the inside cover for a quick overview of the book (which will hopefully intrigue and set up the kids for the story). Also, stop and share the drawing of the kingdom before Ch.1.

(You will often find words in this book that the kids may not know, but it can take them out of the story if you stop and define them all- so keep an eye out if the kids seem confused and be prepared to define only those words that are necessary to enjoy the story)

Vocabulary Selection:
•  MANSION -- act
•  TROUPE -- group of actors
•  GUILD -- group of people with the same job

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  p.3: Elodie is going away from home and her parents for at least 10 years. Would you be willing to do that? How would you feel about leaving?
•  p.4: Elodie's parents want her to become a weaver's apprentice to learn how to weave the cloth. What does Elodie want to become instead? Is she planning to disobey her parents? Do you think she should become a weavor or actor? Why?
•  pp.6-7: Have you ever been on a boat? Did you or anyone else on the boad get sick?
•  p.10: How old is Elodie really? If you had to become an apprentice for 10 years, what apprentice job would you want? How much does an apprentice get paid? (Trick question, because apprentices actually pay to learn the job!)
•  p.12: Elodie watches and listens to people to remember how they look and sound so she can act like those characters when she is on stage. Do you think that is what actors should do to get good at acting? Do you ever watch or notice people? Do you try to act or sound like them?
•  pp. 14-15: Do you share your lunch when at school or away from home?
•  p. 25: Have you ever seen a cat do a trick? Do you think it would be possible to train a cat to do tricks?

Craft ideas:
•  Except for the cover and the map before Ch. 1, this book doesnt have any pictures or drawings of the characters, just descriptions of them and their clothing. Draw how you picture any of them, or draw any scene you enjoyed from the book.
•  Make your own pop up castle. Using a piece of stiff construction paper, draw the front of your castle. Cut the sides and top (towers)of the castle, tracing your personal design. You may cut out windows and door but Do Not cut the bottom of the castle. After cutting the sides and top, fold the bottom of the castle up. Decorate your castle with ivy, stones, jewels, gargoyles or soldiers.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!