The 39 Clues: One False Note Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
After finding the first of the 39 Clues in Paris, Amy and Dan Cahill board a train to Vienna, Austria—the home of their illustrious relative, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Along the way, they encounter several nefarious relatives—all of them determined to thwart Amy and Dan from finding the next Clue.
Dan uses his photographic memory and Amy uses her powers of deduction to track down the diary of Mozart’s sister, Nannerl. Unfortunately, three key pages from the diary are missing, and Amy and Dan hurry to Salzburg, Mozart’s place of birth. When they arrive, Amy and Dan catch a glimpse of their uncle Alistair Oh and follow him into the Salzburg Catacombs.
A dark journey through the catacombs almost leads to a real dead end for Amy and Dan, but they survive to discover the missing diary pages. Writing on the pages sends them off to Venice, where they venture into an underground art collection belonging to the Janus branch of the Cahill family.
After a narrow escape, Amy and Dan jump into a boat for a high-speed chase through the canals of Venice and survive an attempt on their lives by the evil Kabras. The second installment in the series ends with another Clue revealed, and the young Cahills, accompanied by Nellie, and their cat, Saladin, board a plane for Japan to continue their quest.
Teaching the Book
One False Note continues the adventures of Amy and Dan Cahill as they crisscross Europe in their quest to discover the 39 Clues needed to find the source of their family’s power. The book provides an opportunity to discuss the conflicts that move the plot forward as well as the author’s use of figurative language. Students will engage in activities ranging from listening to Mozart to writing an adventure scene set in their community.
Theme Focus: Adventure
Comprehension Focus: Analyze Conflict
Language Focus: Figurative Language
Get Ready to Read
A Map of the Journey
Many students will have already read The Maze of Bones, Book One of The 39 Clues. Discuss the quest Amy and Dan Cahill are on . . . to be the first of the Cahill family to discover the 39 Clues that will give them incredible wealth and power.
Draw a simple plot map of the journey Amy and Dan Cahill have been on so far. Ask students to briefly describe some of the conflicts or adventures that Amy and Dan encountered in each of these places.
Cahill mansion ➜ Boston ➜ Philadelphia ➜ Paris
Ask students to continue to map the journey as they read and think about the conflicts that move the action of the story forward.
Gordon Korman peppers his story with figurative language that brings the action to life. Remind students that a metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things. A simile is a comparison between two unlike things using “like” or “as.” Both figures of speech create a surprising or distinct picture in readers’ minds.
Distribute copies of Resource #1: Language Cards to students. Ask students what is being compared in the first metaphor on page 3 of the book. How does the metaphor help describe Amy and Dan’s experiences?
“Grace was the one who had started them on this dangerous roller coaster.”
Words to Know
Ask students to refer to their language resource cards and the pages in the book as you discuss the meanings of the metaphors and similes. Read each metaphor from Resource #1. Then ask students the following questions:
- Is the figure of speech a metaphor or a simile?
- What two things are being compared?
- Do you think it is an effective metaphor or simile? Why or why not?
- Encourage students to share other examples of figurative language that they recorded while reading the book.
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud pages 1-4 from the first chapter of the book, asking students to follow along. Then prompt them to ask and answer questions about what you just read; for example: How would you describe Amy and Dan’s feelings toward each other? What is Nellie’s role in the book? Who is Mozart? Where are Amy, Dan, Nellie, and Saladin heading and why?
Assign students One False Note to read independently. Encourage them to partner with another student to share questions and reactions to the book.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students record it in their reading journals. How are Dan and Amy changing as a result of their quest for the 39 Clues?
The plot of One False Note rockets along as the two protagonists travel from one place to another encounter conflicts, and resolve them. Explain to students that a conflict is a clash of actions, ideas, or goals. A physical conflict can be between two or more characters, or between a character and nature. A mental conflict can be between a character and a hard-to-understand puzzle. An emotional conflict is often between a character and him or herself; for example, fear. A moral conflict is between a character and what he or she believes is right.
Use the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Analyze Conflict to model for students how to analyze the conflicts in the book. Project the page on a whiteboard or pass out copies to students.
What was a major conflict that Amy and Dan faced on the train from Paris to Austria? Well, a big part of the action was when the Holts chased them. So, I’ll write Amy and Dan vs. the Holts. It was definitely a physical conflict. The resolution was when Saladin shredded the lead and the Holts were caught by the conductor and jumped off the train.
Have students fill in the rest of the organizer for conflicts in each of the next five places on the conflict chart. Explain that each place may have several different conflicts and answers. Encourage students to share their answers and discuss them.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
What are some examples of codes that Dan and Amy must unravel to find the Clues? How do they manage to figure out the codes? (Answers will vary.)
2. Analyze Conflict
What is an example of a moral conflict in the story? How do Amy or Dan resolve this conflict? What does it tell you about their characters?
(Sample answer: They decide to steal the diary to fulfill Grace Cahill’s quest, but they worry about whether it is the right thing to do.)
3. Figurative Language
Choose one of Amy and Dan’s relatives to describe by using an animal metaphor or simile. Write a sentence about the character using figurative language. What characteristics are you comparing? (Sample answer: Natalie Kabra hissed like a venomous snake.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
Imagine that you are Amy and Dan’s brother or sister and joining them on their quest. How would you react in the situations they are in? Would you want to continue on the quest?
2. Text to World
The story of The 39 Clues takes place in the real world, but do you think what happens is realistic? Choose an action in the plot that you think could not occur in the real world.
3. Text to Text
Different authors write each of the books in The 39 Clues series. How did Gordon Korman inject his sense of humor into this book? Compare it to Book One of the series.
Content Area Connections
Kilometers and Miles
Remind students that Europe uses the metric system of measurements. Distance, for instance, is measured in kilometers, not miles. 1 kilometer equals 0.621371 miles. 1 mile equals 1.60934 kilometers. Have partners write word problems for each other to solve using kilometer and mile equivalents.
Artists of the Janus Branch
In Venice, Amy and Dan fall into an underground museum of art done by famous artists from the Janus branch of the Cahill family. Encourage partners to research several of the artists mentioned: Rembrandt, Gilbert Stuart, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, etc. and find out when they lived and how they painted.
Travel the Canals of Venice
Amy and Dan have an exciting boat chase through the canals of Venice; students will enjoy taking a virtual trip through the canals by visiting this site, sponsored by the city of Venice, which provides interactive tools to explore the museums, sights, and canals of the city.
Most of the action in One False Note takes place where Mozart himself lived and worked. After reading the book, some students may be curious to hear Mozart’s music, especially his pieces for the harpsichord. Download free recordings of his music from the web to play for students. Ask them to record their impressions of the music by using metaphors or similes.
The Cahills Come to Town
Read aloud Gordon Korman’s quote about how he writes: “I always start off with something real, but then I unleash my imagination to make it more exciting.” Challenge students to write a scene in which Amy and Dan Cahill arrive in the city or town where they live. Ask students to start with a real place in their community and then unleash their imaginations about what would happen there. Remind them to include a conflict that builds suspense and excitement. Encourage students to share their adventure scenes.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Remind them that there is no one right answer. How are Dan and Amy changing as a result of their quest for the 39 Clues?
My Famous Family Gallery
Amy and Dan Cahill learn that they are related to some of the most famous and talented people who ever lived. Ask students to imagine that they are members of a secret, famous family. What people—living or dead—would they want to be related to? Encourage students to think about the traits and talents that are most important to them. Make copies of the Big Activity Worksheet and distribute to students. Encourage them to share their galleries when they are completed.
This Storia e-book has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Word Twister (2)
- Word Scramble (2)
- Who Said It?
- Do You Know?
- About You
- Collectible Cards
About the Author
Gordon Korman wrote his first book when he was in seventh grade. His language arts teacher told the students to work on whatever they wanted, so Gordon wrote a novel. He sent his manuscript to Scholastic and it was published as This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall when Gordon was just fourteen. He now has more than 65 novels to his credit.
During his writing career, Korman has written humor, suspense, and action/adventure novels. What is the secret to his success? “It’s a combination between real life and pure imagination,” he says. “I always start off with something real, but then I unleash my imagination to make it more exciting.”
Korman lives with his wife and children on Long Island, NY.
For more about Gordon Korman, visit his website.
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