1. Look at this map from the beginning of the book.
a) What do you notice about the map?
b) What can you see?
c) Do you think it is somewhere real or imagined? Explain your answer.
d) Does it remind you of anything you have seen before? What questions does it raise for you?
2. Using your knowledge of other stories, you have read, or films or television programmes you have seen, answer the following questions:
a) What kind of story this might be?
b) What predictions do you have? Explain your ideas.
c) What do the words and visual details in the map suggest about the likely shape and content of the story?
d) Where do you think the story might take place?
e) Who do you think the characters might be? Why?
3. What are your first impressions of the book? Would you want to read on? Explain your answers.
Read the opening extract to the story. You might want to listen to me reading it to you.
4 a) What is happening in this extract? Who are the central characters?
b) Summarise what you’ve read in a couple of sentences.
c) Talk about how this story opening makes you feel and what you like or dislike about it?
d) Does it remind you of anything you know in stories or real life? How?
5 Now think about how it is written.
a) What parts of this really stick in your mind? Why?
b) Which words and phrases do you like the best? What do you like about them? Do they look or sound interesting? Do they
help you make a picture in your mind?
5. Reread the extract a few times then take a pen or pencil and a bit of scrap paper. You can use the back of an old envelope or cereal packet; whatever is to hand. Draw what you see in your imagination. Maybe other people, your friends or in your family want to draw what they imagine as well. Remember, everyone has their own ideas and imagines things their own way. This is a good thing! To get started, ask yourself: Where does this story begin? What happens? How do you know? How does it make me feel? How can I show this in a drawing?
6. Re-read the opening and write some words and phrases that have helped you make your picture. Share what you have drawn with someone else*: Why have you chosen to draw it this way? Which words and phrases helped you make a picture?
*You could contact a friend to talk about your work or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Re-read the text again and think more deeply about the narrator and the situation they find themselves in.
a) Where are they? What is it like there? How do you know?
b) What does the name of the building ‘Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children’, suggest about the narrator?
Does this come across in their character from what you have read so far?
c) What do the use of the words ‘warden’ and the phrases ‘locked shut with an electronic keypad’ and ‘cameras on the
ceiling’ suggest about this place?
d) Why do you think the narrator might be in this place?
e) What do you understand by the phrase ‘Quarantine Zone’? What might this suggest about the action that might take
place in the story?
f) What name would you give a fictional school if your character was miserable there?
What name might you give a fictional school in which your character was blissfully happy?
8 Think about the scene that you have read.
a) What do we know about the narrator’s room?
b) What do you think twelve and thirteen year olds usually like to do?
c) What feels missing from the room of a regular twelve or thirteen year old?
d) How do you think it might feel for the narrator to be held in this place?
e) Have you ever been in a place where you have felt bored, trapped and unstimulated? What was it like? What
suggestions would you give to the narrator to keep their mind occupied while stuck in this place?
9 Think back to the extract you read.
a) Can you imagine what would happen if the boy in the story managed to break out of his room? What do you think would
happen? Where might he go?
b) What challenges might lie in his path? What adventures might he have?
c) Draw and write your story ideas, trying out different ideas. Remember to use stories you already know and like for ideas. d) You could even publish your story in a handmade book by folding a piece of paper or on the computer, ready to share it
with your me or your friends and family
Did you enjoy this extract? You can download and read Chapter 1 here (for free).