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TEACHER'S GUIDES
Print out these guides for classroom discussion. They can also help students doing book reports.


THE AQUANAUTS

AGE LEVEL/GRADE LEVEL:
Ages 12 to 16
Grades 6 to 9

PLOT SUMMARY:
Sixteen-year-old Greta Kovachi embarks on an undersea adventure with her brilliant scientist father to a laboratory habitat on the bottom of the ocean. What is supposed to be a week-long trip turns into a nightmare when a particle accelerator accident spins them billions of years into the future, trapping her father and the other scientists in a particle of time. Greta, along with the three other kids on the habitat, band together as The Aquanauts in a frantic attempt to travel through time and save their parents and themselves.

GENERAL THEMES:
Friendship, teamwork, believing in yourself.
Greta, an uprooted loner, finds herself in a completely strange world where she is tested for her leadership skills.

NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR:
This is a straight forward science fiction in the Arthur C. Clarke tradition but with kids as the protagonists. These days, science fiction gets lumped together with fantasy but I believe that true sci-fi stories stem from a science premise or theory and not dragon worlds and magic spells.
LITERARY CONNECTIONS:
Arthur C. Clarke
Ray Bradbury
H.G. Wells

REFERENCES:
black holes
time travel
particle accelerators
Hydrothermal vents
undersea habitats

PRE-READING PREPARATION:
Discuss the importance of working with others.

Find out how people currently visit the deep sea (at least a mile down). Are there habitats down there now?

What is the nature of time travel?

Discuss any ideas class may have about time travel.
STUDENT DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
What is the theme of this story?

What is the significance of Greta discovering there are 2 nose pins at the end of the story?

Do you believe the sub makes it back to the surface?

Why does Greta set things up to fail?

How does Nicky's fantasy world help him cope?

What emotional/character roles do the four Aquanauts play to support each other?

What do you think Greta saw when she rose above the Earth to look down on the planet?

What kind of world do you think the Aquanauts returned to if the story were to continue?

Do you think the world could handle creating a black hole?

Is there a character that you identify with more than the others? Why?


THE MARINER'S CURSE


AGE LEVEL/GRADE LEVEL:
Ages 9 to 12
Grades 3 to 6

PLOT SUMMARY
The story follows the sleuthing adventures of 12-year-old Rory Dugan, who accompanies his mother and oafish new stepfather on their honeymoon cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. Rory has been depressed for years, ever since the drowning death of his younger brother and his parent's subsequent divorce. But he is fascinated by ships and water and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Titanic history, which is what prompts him to shadow a suspicious passenger on board. The suspect, Mr. Morgan, is an irascible old man who turns out to be the accursed mariner referred to in the book's title, and has a mysterious connection to the Titanic. Morgan, who seems to have a strange power over Rory, is obsessed with the safety of the ship and it leads Rory to believe that their ship may be in grave danger. Rory also meets a girl, Lucy Pritchard, a 13-year-old who befriends him and draws him out with her extroverted, often brash, personality. In his dealings with Lucy and Mr. Morgan, Rory begins to work through his feelings of grief and guilt over his brother's death while they try to solve the mystery of their voyage.

GENERAL THEMES:
Redemption, survival, friendship, tragedy, family breakups.

NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR:
As well as being a mystery/suspense adventure, the Mariner's Curse is a classic redemption tale involving two characters who must learn to deal with their own troubled pasts in order to move on into the future. Morgan carries real guilt from a sin he committed but Rory's guilt is only perceived. Unfortunately, it makes no difference in Rory's mind and he still must redeem himself in order to move forward with his life.

LITERARY CONNECTIONS:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Legend of the Flying Dutchman

HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
The sinking of the Titanic
20th Atlantic Ocean shipwrecks
The Ancient Mariner
The Flying Dutchman
Sea demon legends and their curses

PRE-READING PREPARATION:
This story takes place over a 5 day period while the Sea Lion travels from Southampton to New York. Have the students track the voyage of the Titanic over it's tragic voyage.
Read about the legend of the Flying Dutchman, the doomed ship of Captain Vanderdecken.
Discuss the theme of redemption from classic to modern literature.
STUDENT DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

What is the redemption theme of this story?

What is the significance of exchanging glasses between Rory and Morgan at the beginning and end of the book?

Why does Rory have such guilt over the death of his brother Ian?

If Rory is so afraid of water, why is he fascinated, even obsessed, with the Titanic and other ships?

Does Morgan really know what he is doing to the ships he has sailed on? Does he think he is helping them or destroying them?

Did Morgan pick up the curse on the Titanic? If so, who may have had it before him?

Rory doesn't trust anyone, not even his mother. Why?

What does Rory learn from his relationship with Lucy?

Should Rory trust Lucy even though she lied about what they did together?

Rory and Morgan seem tied together in their emotional struggle. What do their histories have in common?

Is there a character you identified with? What aspects or behavior traits made you feel a connection to this character?