Book-Based Skill Builders
Words of Wisdom
based on The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp
by Rick Yancey
View and print the student activity sheet (PDF)
About the Book
This is an exciting story about a fifteen-year-old boy, Alfred Kropp. He is too large, clumsy and very shy. He is uncoordinated, unpopular and unlucky. His father left before he was born and his mother died of cancer when he was twelve. He came to live with his uncle Farrell in Tennessee, after being shuffled around between foster homes. There was really nothing special about him. He didn’t have any friends and spent most of his time after school listening to music and reading. Uncle Farrell worked as a night watchman in an office building downtown called Samson Towers. They didn’t have much money and lived a fairly ordinary life.
One night, a visitor came to their home with a deal they couldn’t refuse. The visitor, Arthur Myers, asked Uncle Farrell to take something from Samson Towers. Myers was willing to give $500,000 that night and after receiving the stolen item, he would give another $500,000. Farrell found it tempting but needed Alfred’s help. Alfred knew that Myers was a crook and the deal was shady, but reluctantly agreed. What he didn’t know was that Myers was an evil man. From the moment he accepted the deal, Alfred Kropp’s life changed forever.
Set the Stage
Use the following to get the students ready to read:
- The title has the word “extraordinary” in it. Ask students for the definition.
- Ask students what would make an adventure extraordinary? What would make a person extraordinary?
- Read the first page together to find out a little more. Ask students for their predictions after discussing the title and the first page.
After reading the book, discuss the following:
- Alfred had to make the decision to help get the sword from Samson Towers or not. What do you think he should have done and why?
- There are several clues throughout the book that Bernard Samson was Alfred’s father. What were they?
- Bennacio taught Alfred some important life lessons. Give an example of something Bennacio taught Alfred.
- This book is an action-packed story from start to finish. In your opinion, what is the most exciting part and why?
- The Knights of the Order are all descendents of one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Alfred was the last in line from which knight?
- Alfred took the oath to defend the Sword. Why did he agree to do this? Was he considered a knight after he took the oath? Why or why not?
- Did Alfred find out what OIPEP stood for? If so, what did the acronym stand for?
Students will figure out the meaning of quotes from Bennacio and then put them in their own words.
To extend the students’ comprehension of the book, try these:
- Right or Wrong: Alfred had a moral dilemma. He knew what Mr. Myers asked Uncle Farrell to do was wrong. Uncle Farrell needed his help to steal the sword. They would receive a great sum of money for the job, which would change their lives. He struggled with doing nothing and letting his uncle down, which was right or steal the sword, which he knew was the wrong thing to do. Think about other stories you have read where the main character had to make a very hard choice between right and wrong. Compare the problems and outcomes with a Multi-flow map or similar graphic organizer. Share your maps with the class.
- Who’s A Hero?: The hero in this book was Alfred. The characteristics he possessed in the beginning of the story made it unlikely he would end up as the hero. The idea of a hero can be different from one person to another. Think about what a hero is to you. Record the characteristics of a hero. Talk about these characteristics in a small group. Compare your results. Think about someone you see as a hero. Do they possess those characteristics? Write about him/her and tell what you feel makes him/her a hero.
- Making the News: Imagine you are a writer for a famous news magazine. Your assignment is to contact Alfred Kropp and interview him for a feature story in an upcoming issue. Write your article making it so the public will believe the unbelievable events that took place.
- Legendary Tales: Many characters mentioned in the story were descendents of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Historians have studied poetry and artwork of the time period to understand how the legend came to be. Ask students to research the legend to gain background information. Divide them into three groups to study the symbolism of the Round Table, the Holy Grail and the Excalibur. They can use the Internet, books and articles. Each group should record what they learned and share with the class in a way of their choice. Possibilities can include poster, graphic organizer, rap, poem, news report, etc. Each student will choose one of the knights to study in-depth. They will report their findings to the class. They will also choose a method to replicate and display their knight’s armor.
- Seats of Honor: King Arthur’s table was round for a reason. It was a symbol of equity. Each time a new knight joined the king’s court, his name was written on the back of one of the seats around the table. Figure out what the diameter of the table would have to be to accommodate 12, 25, and 150 knights.
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