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Find That Word - Or Else!

Find That Word — Or Else!
based on A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Carnivorous Carnival
Written by Lemony Snicket
Grades: 3–6

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About the Book
Hold on to those backpacks! Your students are in for the ride of their lives!

In this ninth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, the three Baudelaire children arrive at The Caligari Carnival, hiding in the trunk of Count Olaf's car. Fearing discovery, they disguise themselves as freaks (Violet and Klaus as a two-headed person and Sunny as Chabo the Wolf Baby) in order to get work at the carnival.

Declaring that the new freaks will be excellent attractions, Madame Lulu, a fortune-teller (actually, Olivia, in disguise), hires the children for the House of Freaks. Count Olaf, convinced that the freaks are actually the Baudelaire sibs, concocts a plan to throw at least one of them into a pit of starving lions. In the commotion created by the excited crowd, Madame Lulu/Olivia and a bald man are thrown into the pit instead, finding themselves in the belly of at least one beast. En route to the Mortmain Mountains, Violet and Kraus leave the carnival grounds in a caravan attached to Count Olaf's automobile, while poor Sunny is trapped in the front seat of the car with the villainous Count Olaf.

Set the Stage
Show students the cover of the book and use the picture of the lions to talk about the meaning of carnivorous (meat-eater).

Talk, too, about events and shows that happened at carnivals of the past ("freak" shows) and those that may occur at carnivals of today (rides, contests, "fortune telling"). Let students who have been to a carnival describe one thing they saw there.

Read Chapter 1 aloud to the class. Ask students to tell about some of the troubles the Baudelaire children have as the chapter ends.

Review the Book

• What mechanical device were the Baudelaire children planning to use to escape from the carnival grounds?
• How did they actually leave?
• Which questions that the Baudelaire siblings had about their family were never answered in the story?
• Do you agree or disagree with Madame Lulu's philosophy, "Give people what they want"? Explain your answer.

Student Activity
Students will build their reading vocabularies with this fun word search.

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Related Activities

  • Author, Author!: Find out more about author Lemony Snicket in the Authors & Books section of this site.
  • "We'll Stuff Our Pockets": Do students have a favorite passage or dialogue from the story? Have them read aloud the description or act out an amusing exchange between two characters.
  • Read All About It!: Write an article for The Daily Punctilio that captures the most exciting (or least exciting) event in the story.
  • This Way, Please!: Ask students to make a map of the carnival grounds, showing the entrance, the freak's caravan, the pit, and other important spots.

Lesson Developed by Dr. Susan Shafer
Dr. Susan Shafer is a former elementary school teacher with more than twenty years of classroom experience and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. While teaching she received special recognition for her innovative, theme-based teaching methods. The author of two books for children and numerous articles for adults, Susan is presently a freelance writer, editor, and educational consultant.