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Gold Collected So Far
Treasures Collected So Far

The Comic Book Kid
by Adam Osterweil
illustrations by Craig Smith

Teacher’s Guide

Elements of Fiction

The definition of SETTING is the time and location in which a story takes place. The Comic Book Kid is entirely set in Springs, a small town on the East End of Long Island. There are six time periods in which the action takes place: 75 million B.C., approx. 10,500 B.C, 1939 A.D., 2001 A.D., 2499 A.D., and 99,999 A.D.
Class Activity:
make a chart of the different time periods in the novel, along with some attributes of each period.
Possible Responses:

1. 75 Million B.C Long Island did not exist
Giant prehistoric sea creatures existed
The ocean was warm
10,500 B.C.

Mastodons, Giant Sloths, and Dire Wolves existed
Parson’s pond was occupied with a primitive village
Prehistoric humans occupied Long Island.
Historical note: The archaeological evidence shows the first humans arrived in North America about 10,500 B.C. They walked here from Asia across Beringia, a land bridge which existed in the modern day Bering Strait. Beringia was exposed because the ice age kept significantly more amount of water frozen at the Earth’s poles than is there today.

1939 A.D.

The Wizard of Oz was released that year
Superman #1 was released that year
There was a hurricane on Long Island in 1938
Television was just being invented
Teachers were stricter back then/corporal punishment was legal
Outlaw activity existed in the back woods of Springs
Historical note: Springs has a history of this type of activity. Captain Kidd buried part of his treasure in Springs in 1699, shortly before being arrested and hanged. From 1920-1933, during the prohibition era, the remote location of Springs was popular among bootleggers and rumrunners, who hid their illegal wares there.

2001 A.D. (Describe modern day Springs) — See chapter 2, page 15
The school has no cafeteria, auditorium, dismissal bells, or locks on the lockers
There are no bad people in Springs
2499 A.D. The buildings are all shiny black rectangles
Cyberweb technology links all devices/buildings
Electronic ducks waddle around Parson’s Pond
Aliens have come down to Earth and had a war with humans
Programmable clothing exists
True virtual reality video games exist
Students enter school using a remote control
Hover beds exist
99,999 A.D. People now live underground
The surface of the Earth is violent and dangerous
Teleportation Zones exist all around the world
Humans have colonized other planets
Time Travel has been invented
Some humans can read minds
Programmable candy exists
Springs is ruled by an Emperor
Springs follows the Dranex-2 calendar
HargleBeasts exist
Money is now brightly colored coins

Another activity might be to pick two time periods and focus on comparing and contrasting them using a Venn Diagram. See additional possibilities in the activities section.

A CONFLICT is a problem in the story, and a RESOLUTION is the solution to a problem. There are major and minor conflicts. Generally, major conflicts span the whole book or multiple chapters, whereas minor conflicts are resolved within one chapter or scene. However, the designation could also have to do with the significance of the events.
Class Activity:
make a chart of the major conflicts and their resolutions and/or the minor conflicts and their resolutions.
Possible Responses:

Brian thinks his father hates him During the four days in which he mistakenly thinks that he has replaced his dad’s comic, Brian learns that his father does not hate him
Brian destroyed his dad’s comic Brian altered the past so that there was no destroyed comic
Brian destroyed his dad’s baseball card No resolution
Brian’s dad is disappearing Mattie is returned to her normal time
The kids are kidnapped by an outlaw The kids warp away to prehistoric times
The ring does not work —the kids are stuck in prehistoric times Mattie fixes the ring by beating it against a rock
Mattie is stuck out of her time period The kids get another TimeQuest comic in the far future and Mattie uses it to warp home

Brian and Paul get in trouble in school


pg. 32 throwing the note

Mr. O uses the incident as an example of how to create a minor conflict in a story

pg. 48 passing a note

Mr. Miller punishes Brian

pg. 108 disturbing the class

Kelley convinces the principal to let them go with a warning
Brian is kidnapped by aliens The aliens convert back to their normal smallish form, and Brian overpowers them and escapes
Brian and Paul are not trusted by Mattie’s mom The kids prove that they are really bad liars (juggling scene, p. 44), so Mattie’s mom thinks they can’t be related to outlaws.
The kids don’t have enough money
for more TimeQuest comics
They sell Kelley’s yo-yo and Brian’s pants
Brian and Paul worry about their time traveling activities being detected by
Brian’s parents
They wait until Brian’s parents are out of the house to warp —in addition, no matter how long the kids are in a different time period, when they warp home it is only a few seconds after they left.
Brian is caught between a mastodon and a pack of dire wolves While the dire wolves attack the mastodon, Brian takes the opportunity to escape. He realizes his health is more important than the comic
Brian has a secret that he refuses
to tell Paul
Paul asks about the secret, and Brian finally tells him that night

An additional activity could be to determine whether or not the characters involved in the conflict had control over its outcome, or whether or not it was just luck or circumstance that solved the problem. For example, in minor conflict 1A, it is circumstance that gets the kids out of trouble, but in 1C it is Kelley’s efforts that gets the kids out of trouble. Often, this is not a black and white issue, and there might be some degree of luck and control involved (as in minor conflict 2,6). See activities section for additional possibilities.

CHARACTERS are the people, animals, etc. that populate the novel.
Class Activity:
make a chart of the characters and what the students learned about that character from the novel (either physical attributes or personality).
Possible Responses:

Brian Orange wavy hair, sensitive, determined, stubborn, caring, imaginative, slacks his jeans, misunderstands his mom, never gets in trouble in Mr. O’s class, but gets in trouble in every other class, likes to skateboard, likes to have sleepovers
Paul Straight hair that falls over his eyes, jokes around, loyal, sneezes a lot, likes to slack and be "cool." Wears braces, weighs 90 pounds
Mattie Excitable, short, curious, mop of hair, big eyes, straightforward, loves her family
Kelley High energy, blond hair, doesn’t like school, likes video games, persuasive charm
Mikey Likes his pet lizard, doesn’t approve of Madwoman’s actions, brown messy hair, likes to hunt, has a temper
Mr. O Has a brown car with bullet holes, gives out sour candy, you can’t get in trouble in his class
Mr. Miller Strict!
Nathan Smart, can read minds, concerned about the world

An additional or alternative activity might be to make a chart of the characters and their main role in the story. As well, a compare and contrast Venn diagram can be made to compare Brian and Paul’s characters. See the activities section for additional possibilities.

A CLIMAX is a high point/peak of action in the story. There can be more than one, and they usually occur between the middle and end of the story. However, a climax can technically be any high point that occurs anywhere in the story.
Class Activity:
identify the three biggest climaxes in the story.
Possible Responses:
1. When Brian finally realized that his dad didn’t hate him
2. When the Superman comic was revealed in the archaeological exhibit (and the resulting destruction)
3. When the Earth was collapsing in 99,999
4. When Brian is being pushed off the cliff by the madwoman
5. When Brian is being kidnapped by Aliens
6. When the kids are almost vaporized in the classroom in 2499 A.D.

The MORAL is the lesson learned from the story.
Class Activity:
What lessons did Brian learn from his experiences?
Possible Responses:
1. You can’t change the past no matter how hard you try
2. Sometimes things you worry about are just in your head
3. No material objects can or should affect the love that family members have for each other
4. Adventure is fun to read about, but your family and friends are the most important things
5. You might have made mistakes, but things could have been worse


This part contains a list of words that kids in the intended age range (8-12) might find challenging.
It is not an exhaustive list, nor is it broken down by age level.
It is organized by page levels to aid in teaching the definition from context.

page 7 develop, particular, imported
page 8 illustrates, specialized
page 9 investment
page 10 shrugged, diabolical
page 11 glinting
page 13 legible
page 14 investment
page 16 frantically
page 20 vacantly
page 22 supervision, bewilderment, insured
page 23 astonishment, activation
page 24 cosmic, alteration
page 28 devoured, appealing
page 29 unsuspecting
page 32 orthodontist, spiraled
page 35 refrain
page 37 deranged, villainous, non-biodegradable, programmable
page 39 stammered
page 40 socialize, awkward
page 41 lopsided, worrisome
page 46 mutation, scholarly
page 47 disinfectant
page 50 voiceover, indestructible, mannequins
page 51 holograms
page 53 counterfeiting
page 56 primary, processor, rerouting
page 57 rickety
page 60 fashioned
page 62 wispy
page 63 protective, extinct
page 69 amid, unfamiliar
page 71 pendulum, plummeting
page 73 radioactive, thunderous
page 75 adrenaline, newfound
page 77 captions
page 81 incorporated, corduroys
page 82 continuum, pondered
page 86 teetered, exception
page 87 tyrannical, scornfully
page 88 grieved, ruthless
page 89 scrawled, posse
page 90 homesick
page 93 materialized, residing
page 95 spherical, adjusting
page 98 jester, defensive, scythe
page 99 scoffed, slithering, feeble
page 102 officially
page 104 simultaneously
page 105 computerized
page 106 reprimanded, detention, orb
page 107 terminated, menacing
page 108 registering, suspension
page 109 offense, suspiciously
page 110 archaeological, sponsored, unauthorized, identification
page 111 fossilized
page 112 frenzied, algorithm, protagonist, commencing, predator
page 114 cryptic, technology
page 115 encrustation, artifact
page 116 geological, supernatural, engineering
page 117 stampeding, confiscated
page 118 indefatigable, ennui, circulating, oppressive, noonday, characterized, incessant, lapping, forsooth (archaic: in truth, no doubt) (note: this page has a large number of complicated words because it is purposely poking fun at old-fashioned literature)
page 119 intrigues, incredulously
page 120 chortled
page 121 pinging
page 122 incomprehensible, statistics, materialized, forged
page 123 momentarily, transformation, retractable
page 124 atmosphere
page 126 descended
page 127 primitive
page 128 monstrous, mathematical
page 129 unpredictably
page 130 physicists
page 133 teleportation, accessible
page 135 halfheartedly
page 136 responsibility
page 137 monstrosity, disheartened
page 138 coincidence, vintage
page 140 swooned, remarkably
page 142 unreliable 144 pacifiers
page 145 prehistoric, vaporized
page 146 ultimate
page 147 scurrying, groggy
page 148 cringed

Elements of Writing

When characters in novels speak, it is useful to alternate the dialogue words used to illustrate what they say to avoid repetition (alternatives to "said.")
Class Activity:
In pairs, students should find as many different dialogue words as they can in the novel within a given amount of time.
Possible Responses:
page 7 lectured, whispered
page 8 replied, snapped
page 9 said, suggested
page 10 asked
page 11 grunted
page 13 moaned
page 15 shrieked
page 16 added, announced
page 19 gasped, mumbled
page 21 howled, confessed
page 25 answered, screamed
page 27 returned
page 31 snorted
page 35 offered
page 36 reassured
page 37 warned
page 39 told, squealed, stuttered, stammered
page 41 explained
page 42 whispered
page 43 sang, uttered, screeched
page 47 cackled
page 48 bellowed
page 51 begged
page 53 ordered, commanded, accused
page 57 grumbled, muttered
page 58 insisted
page 60 observed
page 62 whined
page 63 marveled
page 64 yelled
page 71 cried
page 75 urged
page 78 exclaimed
page 84 teased
page 86 argued, praised, yapped
page 87 sneered
page 92 proclaimed
page 94 interrupted
page 95 continued
page 98 cheered
page 99 demanded, reminded
page 101 inquired
page 104 complained
page 106 reprimanded, boomed
page 109 bragged, directed, signaled
page 111 blared
page 118 assured
page 119 shouted
page 123 squeaked
page 132 wailed
page 140 rumbled

A more advanced activity might be to find adverbs that describe the more traditional "said." Example: said gloomily (page 16), said impatiently (page 18). These allow for more variety while conveying emotion. After identifying and discussing the above, follow this up with practice creating a dialogue between two or more people that uses a certain number of these dialogue words.
Class Lesson: Examine the structure of sentences containing dialogue. For example, some sentences have only quoted dialogue with no dialogue words: "Excellent!" (pg. 8). "You got it!" (pg. 51). Some sentences have one sentence or phrase of dialogue followed by the dialogue word and who said it: "We’re from the future," Paul answered (pg. 39). "’Sup Mr. S?" Paul asked (pg.19). Some sentences have an added action after the dialogue word: "Not again," he moaned, dropping the ball. (pg. 31). "Hit the button," Paul said nervously, staring at the wolf pack. (pg. 76) Finally, some sentences have interrupted dialogue, where the dialogue continues after the dialogue word and who said it: "We’re from the year 2001," Paul explained. "We came to get a comic book." (pg. 41) "But if we get another TimeQuest comic, we can warp to before we warped back to Mr. Somerset," Paul explained. "Then we can get a whole bunch of Superman #1’s." (pg. 103) The class should be introduced to between two and four different structures and asked to find additional examples of these from the novel. Finally, they should create a page of dialogue of their own using these structures. Add a variety of dialogue words from above if you really want to get challenging.

When choosing a narrator it is important to decide what type of narration will be used (first, second, third limited, third omniscient, etc.) It is also important to decide where the narrator is in time and space. TYPE: The Comic Book Kid is narrated in first person, with Brian as the "I," the only change being when Paul takes over the narration on page 138-141. TIME/LOCATION: In The Comic Book Kid, the action ended a few weeks before Brian began narrating. He is narrating from his room, where he is typing the whole story on his computer.
Class Activity:
ask the students for evidence that the action of the story is already over when Brian is narrating.
Possible Responses:
1. The beginning: "It all started on a Friday a couple of weeks ago."
2. Pg. 138-141 —when Paul takes over the narration and Brian hits him with a pillow for writing the wrong stuff. This makes it clear that they’re narrating from the safety of their home.
3. Pg. 151 —Brian mentions that he’s going to hand this "big book" to Mr. O, showing that he was physically writing it out all along.
4. In general, past tense is used
5. Pg. 118 —Brian makes fun of old, confusing narration. This shows that he is narrating at his leisure, and not during the events.
Historical note: When novels were serialized in magazines, authors would often get paid by the word, and some would pad their text to pay the bills. Brian is making fun of this type of text, as well as old fashioned flowery language.

Writing never comes out correctly the first time, and it is important to revise, and revise, and revise. Here is a scene from the first draft of the Comic Book Kid. (The Outlaw Traps us in his Hideout) (pg. 57-61).
Class Activity:
compare this original scene with the one used in the final book and find the similarities and differences. The students should then calmly be informed of how lucky the author is to have the greatest editor in the world. Note: In the original draft, Mattie was a boy named Nic.

Before the outlaw led us out of the General Store, he grabbed a handful of honey sticks and gave one to each of us. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have taken candy from a stranger. But I already knew that this stranger wanted to kill me, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to have a honey stick first. Let this be a lesson to you, innocent reader. So far, half of the people who gave me candy in this story have wanted to kill me.

"These’ll keep your mouth shut for awhile," the man said in a slow voice. He pushed us onto a woodsy path which quickly darkened only a few steps into it. The man stood behind us as we walked, holding the gun the whole time. He kept Nic close by, but he made me and Paul walk ahead of him. I don’t think he trusted us, so he wanted to keep us in full view. He was mostly quiet, except when he put one of the honey sticks in his crooked mouth and said, "Doggone sugar’ll rot your teeth, but am I, your mama?"

"I’m word to the game," Paul said, slobbering his honey stick.

"Shut yer trap up there," the man growled.

"Word," Paul said. I forgot to tell you that he can get pretty rebellious sometimes, especially when someone’s being mean to him.

"Shut it, I said." The man clicked the hammer on his gun.

Paul stopped walking, and without turning around said, "My bad."

Paul has the power to make adults really happy or really mad, depending on his mood. In this case, he made the man really mad. The outlaw fired a shot at Paul, which missed wide and hit my protective comic case, zinging it over to a nearby tree.

"One more word out of you and I’ll use you as bait for the fish. That was a warning."

The sound of the gunshot sent creatures scuttling through the undergrowth, and birds fluttering through the trees. Nic looked like he had just seen a ghost. The bandit yelled for us to keep moving, and when we were on our way again, I picked up the comic case. The outside was dented slightly, but Superman was unharmed. I told you, the protective case could have survived a war. It was also non-biodegradable.

As we were crunching through the forest, I noticed that Paul was trying to talk to me under his breath.

"Warp … already … press … the … button." he grunted.

"Can’t … Nic … needs … TimeQuest … coin." I grunted back.

We couldn’t just abandon Nic. If Paul and I disappeared all of the sudden, then the man would surely shoot Nic in a panic.

"Throw … .him … a … TimeQuest … coin," Paul grunted quietly as we walked.

"Ring’s broken … I … think," I mumbled.

Pretty soon we came to a rickety old cabin in the woods. We were probably a mile from the nearest house, so nobody would hear the gunshots if the man did decide to kill us. The insides of the cabin were rotting. Bugs crawled everywhere. The man mumbled something about his partner returning soon, and he didn’t waste any time tying us up. The comic book fell at my feet, but the man didn’t seem to care about it. I wondered if he could even read.

"What are you into, mister," Nic said. "Is it something grand like bank robbery?"

"You three’s like little peeping birds," The man shouted. "When you shut one up, the others start peeping. This’ll fix you." He took dirty rags and shoved them into each one of our mouths.

He took some of the food out of the sack that Mr. Somerset had given him. "This sack’s slimy on the inside," He said. He grumbled about how the storekeeper probably spit in it when he wasn’t looking. Then he started talking a lot, mumbling mostly, about how he wanted to get back onto the open seas where it’s safe, about how you couldn’t make a dishonest living on land anymore, and about how his boat had been damaged from a reef the week before. I guessed that he was a pirate from the way he started talking about the South Seas and the good takes from the yachts there. It was obvious that he had stopped in Springs for some repairs

Like I said, Springs has plenty of secluded coves for hiding out. Even real pirates once hung out here way back in the 1700’s. Would you believe that Captain Kidd buried his treasure in 1699 less than then miles from Springs school? There’s even a piece of pirate treasure in the collection at the East Hampton Library. The very cabin we were tied up in might have been built by the hands of pirates from the olden days.

"You three are my insurance," the man said, munching on a piece of bread. "Anybody comes after me, I shoot you one by one. When Pete comes back with the news of the boat being fixed, I’ll burn the cabin down. That way I won’t waste a bullet."

"Mmmmf," Paul said.

It was an unhappy moment for the three of us, but I used it wisely by working my hand slowly towards my pocket, where the TimeQuest coins were. I moved my hand so slowly that the man didn’t even noticed while he gulped down his beans. He just went on and on about he had a wife and a kid in South Africa, and how he wanted to steal a big yacht on the trip home to replace his old one.

"I’m gonna put the ’78 on the Victrola and swing to Benny Goodman when I get back home," the man said. "Yep, the king of the South Seas and the King of Swing, what partners we make."

I inched my hand into my pocket while the man babbled. Nic and Paul were really interested in what I was doing, even though they pretended badly not to be. I snagged a coin between two of my fingers and eased it out of my pocket. If I got it to Nic somehow, I could easily press the "Home" button on my TimeQuest ring. The ring still sputtered all sorts of colors. I didn’t know if it would work, but it was the only chance we had.

"They don’t make coffee like this in the Atlantic," the man said, sniffing a tin. "No sirreee, you ho ho and bottle of boiling water." He plunked some dishes around and set up a small burner to boil water. When he walked out of the cabin to get water for his kettle, the three of us all tried to have a conversation at once. Unfortunately, with the rags in our mouth it just sounded like nonsense. Paul shook his head towards my hands, and I waved the TimeQuest coin back and forth, as if I was about to fling it. Nic spotted the coin and then looked at me in a confused way.

Just as I was about to flick the coin to him, the man walked back in with his kettle of water.

"Still here?" He said. "You must really like my company. Aw shucks, gee whilickers. That makes me kinda wish you were my own three little boys." Then he yelled "Hah!" as he lit a match.

"Fire is the mystery of the ages," he said, holding the flame near my nose. "It lets us live, or it could make us die. It knows no enemy. It’s neutral, like Switzerland." Then he lit his little burner.

My hand started sweating, and I thought I was going to drop the coin. I needed a distraction of some sort, because the man would surely notice a coin rolling across the floor, even if he was singing over his coffee.

Leave it to Paul to make a commotion. He kicked the man’s kettle over and said "Mmmff fmmmf. Mmmmffff fmmmf."

"What are you doing, you little punk!" the outlaw yelled, raising his hand as if to slap Paul.

"Mmmmf fmmf," Paul said again, shaking his head towards the open window.

The man suddenly got worried, probably because he had spent so little time minding to bandit business while brewing coffee. He hopped up to look out the window, and then he asked Paul what he was saying. When Paul just said, "Mfff fmmf" again, he got mad and ripped the rag out of Paul’s mouth.

"What are you saying to me, you little rat?" the man yelled.

"I was saying, My Bad," Paul answered, and he smiled all his braces at the man.

I’ve been telling you since page one that Paul has strange powers over adults, right? Well, the commotion that followed was one for the record books. The man threw pots and pans and food all over the cabin. During his fury, I rolled the TimeQuest coin over towards Nic. It stopped about halfway between us.

"It’s over for you," the man said, picking up his gun. "Two hostages is enough for me." He pointed his gun. Paul didn’t look so good all of the sudden.

A voice came from outside and joined the chaos in the cabin. "They’re coming. They’re after us." It was a deep, loud voice.

"Pete!" The outlaw cried. "He’s back. I’ll deal with you in a moment." He backed away from Paul and ran out to talk to Pete.

I heard barking dogs in the distance, and the sounds of shouting. Paul kicked the TimeQuest coin towards Nic while Pete and the outlaw argued about whether to stay in the cabin with us as hostages, or make a run for the boat. Nic stretched his tied hand towards the coin, but he couldn’t quite reach it. Pete yelled that they should just shoot us and make a run for the boat. That way we couldn’t identify them. Meanwhile, the barking dogs became louder, and Pete’s gruff voice yelled, "Hurry!"

The outlaw stormed back into the cabin and said, "That store owner blabbed, so now I have to keep my end of the bargain." He pointed the gun at Paul and said, "You’re first, punk!"

"Bring it on!" Paul yelled. The barking dogs sounded very close now.

A lot of things happened in the next three seconds. In the first second, Nic grabbed the TimeQuest coin and said, "Mmmmf." In the second second, I pressed the "Home" button on my TimeQuest ring, and the ring sparked and gave out a strange dinging noise. In the third second, Video came flying through the window in a brown ball and clamped onto Paul’s face. There was a gunshot, a scream, a lot of commotion, and then, as

I clutched the Superman comic between my feet, the cabin, the men, and the forest disappeared around

1. Kids kidnapped by an outlaw
2. They escape using the ring and coins
3. Outlaw gives them honey sticks
4. They are taken to a rotting cabin
5. The outlaw mentions that he has kids
6. Video comes and joins them at the end of the chapter

1. The outlaw has a gun
2. The outlaw does not have anything written on his head
3. The outlaw does not make a snot sandwich
4. The kids have gags in their mouth
5. Mattie is Nic
6. The kids do not warp because they feel bad about leaving Nic, not because the ring failed
7. The outlaw has a partner
8. The scene is much longer, and the outlaw says more
9. The pacing is slower
10. The scene is more serious, with less humor

Finally, here is a revision of this scene from about midway through the work on the novel. Comparisons can be made with either the original version or the final version of the scene.

Before the outlaw led us out of the General Store, he grabbed a handful of honey sticks, gave one to each of us, and put the rest in the sack. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have taken candy from a stranger. But I already knew that this stranger wanted to kill me, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to have a honey stick first.

"Those’ll keep your mouths shut for awhile," the man grumbled, holding the gun close behind Mattie. He pushed us onto a woodsy path which quickly darkened only a few steps into it. "Doggone sugar’ll rot your teeth, but what am I, your mama."

As we crunched through the forest, Paul tried to tell me something.

"Warp … already … press … the … button." He grunted.

"Can’t....Mattie … needs … TimeQuest … coin." I mumbled back. We couldn’t just abandon Mattie. Who knows what the outlaw would have done then.

"Throw … her … a … TimeQuest … coin."

"She’s … too close … to him," I stuttered.

A loud gunshot sent creatures scuttling through the undergrowth. My comic case zinged over to a nearby tree. Fortunately, the outlaw’s aim was as bad as mine.

"Shut yer traps and get moving," he demanded as I snatched the comic up. "Or next time I don’t miss."

Soon we came to a rickety old cabin in a clearing, a mile from the nearest house. An open window peered through each wall, revealing armies of bugs crawling on the rotting floor. The outlaw sat each of us down in a different corner of the room.

"My name’s Joe," he said, tying our wrists and feet together. "But my friends call me Ugly Joe on accounts of my temper."

He plopped himself down next to Paul and took off his hat, revealing a big forehead.

"Of course, I don’t have many friends no more," he continued.

Ugly Joe reached into the sack to get some food.

"There’s slime inside this sack," he said, scraping something out and holding it to his nose. "Oh, it’s just honey."

We all cringed as he licked his finger clean.

"Nature makes good candy," Ugly Joe declared, retrieving the rest with a knife. "Who else wants some?"

We shook our heads back and forth as he made it into a sandwich.

"I tell you it’s GOOD, now who wants some!"

We shook our heads even faster as the sandwich dripped.

"Stay skin and bones then," he said, leaning back. "Throw me that comic. I’m gonner relax a bit."

"I’ll … I’ll … try it," I sputtered, clutching the comic.

Ugly Joe scrambled over to me, held the sandwich to my face, and said, "Here."

Now THIS was definitely not part of our plans: 1. Get Superman #1 2. Get kidnapped by outlaw 3. Eat Paul’s snot

"Yum," I gagged nervously. Paul looked at me with only the white part of his eyes.

"See, it’s TASTY, now who else wants some?" Ugly Joe grabbed my comic and began to fiddle with the flap.

"I … I want some too," Paul said, eyeing the comic worriedly.

"Bah, a flying man," Ugly Joe complained, snapping the case shut and dropping the comic at my feet. "Couldn’t you have gotten one with them talking ducks."

After stuffing the rest of the sandwich into Paul’s mouth, Ugly Joe blabbered on about how he couldn’t wait to get back onto the ocean where it’s safe. I knew he was a sea pirate when he started talking about the South Seas and the good treasure from the yachts there. Springs has always had plenty of secluded coves for hiding pirates. Would you believe that Captain Kidd buried his treasure only five miles from Springs School?

I began working my hands slowly towards my pocket. I had only one chance to flick a TimeQuest coin across the room to Mattie and press the "Home" button on my sputtering ring.

"I’m gonna put the ’78 on the Victrola and swing to Benny Goodman when I get back home," Ugly Joe said. "Yep, the King of the South Seas and the King of Swing, what partners we make."

Finally, I snagged a coin between two fingers and eased it out of my pocket.

When Ugly Joe walked outside to get water for his kettle, I said, "Mattie, take this coin and hold it tight."

Before I could flick the coin, he walked back in singing, "Yo ho ho and bottle of water."

"My kids would’ve escaped from this mess by now," Ugly Joe said proudly, lighting a match. "I taught them everything. Sure wish I had more of that honey for my tea."

My hand started sweating, and I thought I was going to drop the coin.

"WaaaaaaCHOOOOF!" Paul sneezed into Joe’s water pot. Then he looked up at Ugly Joe, gave a braces smile, and said, "My bad."

The commotion that followed was one for the record books. Ugly Joe threw pots and pans all over the cabin, screaming at Paul. During his fury, I flung the TimeQuest coin to Mattie. It landed a short distance away from her.

Just then, I heard barking dogs and shouting in the distance. Ugly Joe ran out to take a look, and Mattie began to slide towards the coin.

"We’re caught!" Ugly Joe announced, storming into the cabin and pointing the gun at Paul.

A lot of things happened in the next three seconds. In the first second, Mattie grabbed the TimeQuest coin and blurted, "Got it!" In the second second, I pressed the "Home" button on my TimeQuest ring, and the ring sparked and gave out a strange dinging noise. In the third second, Video came flying through a window and clamped onto Paul’s face. There was a gunshot, a scream, and then, as I clutched the Superman comic between my feet, the cabin, Ugly Joe, and the forest around us disappeared.

1. Nic is now Mattie, like in the final version
2. The outlaw still has the gun, whereas he has no weapon at all in the final version
3. The snot sandwich is in the scene now
4. A commotion is still needed to pass Mattie a coin, whereas in the final version Mattie already has the coin, and the kids are waiting for the backup processor to kick in
5. The outlaw does not read the comic because he is bored by it, not because Brian distracts him
6. The scene is much shorter than the original version, but not as short as the final version
7. The part about the writing on the outlaw’s bald head is not in the scene yet

Comprehension Questions

Here are some comprehension questions to ask, which might be useful during a read-aloud to see if the class is following the story.

Chapter 1 —I tell you about Me, Paul, and My Deep, Dark Secret
What is Brian’s deep, dark secret?
What have you learned so far about Brian and Paul?
Why is Superman #1 so valuable?
What have you learned about Mr. O and his class?

Chapter 2 —We Get Something Very Strange at the General Store
What have you learned about the town of Springs?
What year does the novel take place in?
How does Brian’s father act towards Brian?
What have you learned about Mr. Somerset?
Why does Mr. Somerset give the boys the TimeQuest comic?
What have you learned about the TimeQuest comic?

Chapter 3 —We Discover the Dangerous Truth About the TimeQuest Comic
What powers does the TimeQuest comic have?
What rules does the TimeQuest comic have?
Why do the boys think Mr. Somerset gave them the TimeQuest comic?
What do they plan to use the TimeQuest comic for?

Chapter 4 —We Plan Our Journey
Have you learned anything more about the TimeQuest comic?
How does Brian’s dad feel about the Superman #1 disaster?
Have you learned anything more about Mr. O and his class?

Chapter 5 —We set out to 1939
Describe the case that Brian is using to store Superman #1
What do you learn about Mattie?
Have you learned anything more about the TimeQuest comic?
What did the kids do in preparation for the journey?

Chapter 6 —Our Plans go terribly wrong
What have you learned about Video?
What have you learned about Mattie’s mom?
Why does Mattie’s mom want the boys to quit the circus?
Why does Mattie’s mom no longer think that the boys are with the outlaws?

Chapter 7 —We go after Superman #1
What kind of punishments did teachers give in the old days?
What do you learn about Mr. Miller?
Why would it be bad if Paul sneezed on the Superman comic?
Why does Mr. Somerset think the kids are outlaws?
Why does the outlaw kidnap the kids?
Why can’t Brian warp everyone to safety?
What have you learned about what 1939 was like?

Chapter 8 —The Outlaw Traps Us in His Hideout
What do you learn about the outlaw?
The outlaw’s son?
Describe the place where the outlaw takes the kids
Why is there snot in the sack?
Why does Brian eat a snot sandwich?
How are the kids able to warp away at the end when they couldn’t before?

Chapter 9 —????????????
What have you learned about the mystery time period?
What have you learned about Mikey?
Why is the madwoman so interested in the comic?
What is going to happen to Brian in the morning?

Chapter 10 —I Get Caught in a Great Battle
Why does Brian give the ring to Paul?
What do the kids have in common with Mattie?
What is different about their lives?
Why does Mikey get so upset at the madwoman?
Why does Mattie know what the prehistoric creatures are called?
Why do the Mastodon and Dire Wolves leave Brian alone?
How does Mattie fix the ring?

Chapter 11 —Home Again
What interests Mattie about the future? Why?
Why does Mattie want to return home?
Why can’t Mattie return home?
What memory does Brian have about his father?
What do the kids decide to do next in their journey? Why?

Chapter 12 —We Make a Terrible Discovery
How do the kids decide what year to warp to?
Why don’t the kids get in trouble in Mr. O’s class for not doing homework?
What do the kids learn has changed about the past in Mr. King’s class?
Why is Brian’s dad disappearing?

Chapter 13 —We Meet Kelley
What do you learn about Kelley?
What is the year 2499 like?
What is the Cyberweb?
Describe what the Virtua Pod is like?
What do the kids learn about the TimeQuest comics from Kelley?
What have you learned about Kelley’s mom?
What have the kids learned about the war?

Chapter 14 —We Go to School
Why do the kids get in trouble in school?
What have you learned about the principal?
Why does the principal let the kids off with a warning?
What is school like in 2499?

Chapter 15 —We go on a very, very interesting field trip
How do the kids get into the archaeological exhibit?
Why is Brian flickering?
Why does the flickering slow down?
How did the comic survive underground for 12,000 years?
How did the archaeologist recreate a picture of Brian’s face?
Why does the audience panic and destroy the exhibit?

Chapter 16 —We Meet the Professor, and Then...
What do you learn about the professor?
Why does the professor have the kids untied?
Why does the meeting hall turn into a spaceship?
What do you learn about Mrs. Q and the principal?
Why do the aliens think Brian is also an alien?
How does Brian escape from the ship?
Why do the aliens empty the junk from the ship?
Why is the war back on?

Chapter 17 —We Meet Nathan
What do you learn about Nathan?
What is the world like in 99,999 A.D.?
What have you learned about all the ads in the TimeQuest Comic?
Why does Brian start flickering again?
Why is Nathan worried about the world being destroyed?

Chapter 18 —Nathan takes us shopping
Why is the storekeeper so gruff to Nathan and the kids?
How do the kids get enough money to buy two TimeQuest comics?
Why do the kids have to bring Brian to a certain spot before warping?
What do you learn about why Mr. Somerset gave the comic to Brian?
What is different about the way Paul narrates?

Chapter 19 —I Tell You About the Resolution
Why doesn’t Brian’s Dad realize the Superman comic is valuable?
How does Brian learn that his dad doesn’t secretly resent him?
How did Mr. Somerset get rich?
Why is Brian not worried about not doing his homework or paying attention in class?

Interpretive Questions

The following questions don’t necessarily have a single correct answer, and require some evidence from the text to support any arguments.

1. Why does Brian think his dad hates him even when he acts so friendly towards Brian?
2. In what ways does the TimeQuest technology need improving?
3. Why did Nathan plant comics in the past instead of changing the past himself?
4. Compare and contrast Brian’s relationship to his mom and dad.
5. What did Brian learn during the course of his adventure? (see moral above)
6. Are the prehistoric Springs residents good or bad people?
7. Why have the aliens come to Earth?
8. Is the outlaw a good or bad person?
9. Can you get in trouble in Mr. O’s class?
10. Does better technology improve society?
11. Why does Mattie’s Mom trust two strangers in her house?
12. Did Nathan succeed in saving the world?
13. How come Mr. Somerset isn’t rich when the novel begins? If he received a price guide in 1939, wouldn’t he have it in 2001? (see science fiction elements below)

Science Fiction Elements

A. Grandfather Paradox (advanced activity)
Einstein coined this phrase, which refers to an illogical time loop. For example, if you went back in time and killed your grandfather before your father was born, then you and your father never would have been born. However, if you didn’t exist when time reached the present, how would you go back in time to kill your grandfather? These sort of illogical loops are impossible to avoid in sci-fi writing.
Class Activity:
Discuss what illogical loops could exist in The Comic Book Kid due to time travel paradoxes.
Possible Responsess:
1. If Brian brought a price guide back into the past, wouldn’t Mr. Somerset have it in 2001? (also in part 5, question 13)
2. If Mattie was brought out of the past, wouldn’t Brian and his father instantly disappear? The good old mysterious TimeQuest technology, which somehow has a command of physics that we cannot yet grasp, saves the day here by slowing down this effect as much as its power supply can handle.
3. If Brian’s book becomes published, won’t the world learn about what’s going to happen in 99,999 and change its ways? (possible answer to section 5 number 12) However, if they do change their ways, won’t Nathan have no reason to deposit ten TimeQuest comics in the past, thereby not allowing Brian to learn enough to write the book in the first place?
4. If Mr. Somerset shows the Price Guide to too many people in 1939, won’t everybody save their comics, thereby reducing their value to nothing in the future? But if this happens, won’t Brian have no reason...blah...blah...
5. If Brian deposited a comic in prehistoric times, and then retrieved it in the future, shouldn’t it be buried in Springs when the novel begins?

B. The future and the past (advanced activity)
When creating the past it is important to be accurate (see section 7E for an activity). When creating the future, it is impossible to be accurate. However, future technology can be created based on what we know about present technology and trends.
Class Activity:
Why did the author create the specific technologies used in 2499 and 99,999 A.D. What were they based on?
Possible Responses:
1. The cyberweb, which links every device and building in the future, is an advanced form of the world wide web. The way networking is going, even toilets and toasters will be on the network eventually so manufacturers can know if they’re working properly.
2. Virtua Pod is an advanced video game. Video games will eventually all be virtual reality —as seen in places like DisneyWorld, and other modern theme parks. There are already virtual reality helmets for certain pc games. Various console companies have tried to make VR only consoles, but the technology is not advanced enough yet.
3. Nathan can read minds. Some researchers say that humans only use a small percentage of their brain’s power. What would happen if we could tap into all of our brain’s power?
4. Other planets are populated in Nathan’s time. According to NASA, Mars could have a human colony by the year 2050. Where will space travel lead us by the year 99,999?
5. The classroom of the future —electronic bulletin boards and desks that read thumbprints. These technologies already exist, but are too expensive now for schools. Maybe prices will come down by


A. What would you change if you could go back in time? What problems could that cause back in your home time?

B. What do you think the world will be like in the year 2499? In the year 99,999?

C. What are the definition of the nine words in the prehistoric language that Mikey and the villagers use? Possible answers:
Soota —food
Kooma —kill
Hutty —hunt
Foo —spoiled
Bana —come
Kalu —villagers
Dinta —sleep
Weni —fly
Tani —look

D. As a class, decide which are the "good" and "bad" characters in the novel. Discuss why they are either good or bad, and discuss any differences in opinion on the matter.

E. What was the place you live in like 12,000 years ago? In 1939? Research to find out.

F. As a class, create a time capsule that you think will not be discovered until the year 99,999 A.D. Each student should write a letter that will be read in 99,999. As well, decide as a class what else should be put in the capsule. Then bury it in a secret location.

discuss any differences in opinion on the matter.

E. What was the place you live in like 12,000 years ago? In 1939? Research to find out.

F. As a class, create a time capsule that you think will not be discovered until the year 99,999 A.D. Each student should write a letter that will be read in 99,999. As well, decide as a class what else should be put in the capsule. Then bury it in a secret location.

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