The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener

Book Category: Science fiction
Author: Jonathan Auxier
Illustrator: Patrick Arrasmith
Copyright: (2014) New York, NY
Publisher: Amuelt Books
Suggested Grade Level: 5
Lexile Level: 690L
Accelerated Reader: 4.9
Suggested Delivery: Independent Read
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3: Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Summary: This book is a spooky and mysterious ghost story, fable, and science fiction book for kids. The two main characters, Molly and Kip, are siblings who had been separated from their parents during the Great Famine in Ireland and left home to search for a new and better life in England. In their new home, an old woman warns them that there is something dark and dreary there that has kept many people away from the house and the surrounding woods for years, a creature called the Night Man. Molly and Kip’s curiosity and hope for a better life as both siblings and caretakers for each other gives them the courage to stay in this so-called haunted house, at least for a little while.
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Spooky, Mysterious, Victorian, Magical, Imaginative
Electronic Resources:
1. This website provides a list of books other than The Night Gardener that have been nominated for the Texas Bluebonnet Award in the years 2015-2015. It also provides a biography and podcast interviews with the book’s author and related activities and resources: https://texasbluebonnetaward2016.wordpress.com/the-night-gardener/
2. This website provides an interactive game on the Irish Potato Famine, which was the time period that this story took place: http://www.irishpotatofamine.org/
3.  This website provides a list of links of many other American folklore spooky stories, such as The Night Gardener: http://www.americanfolklore.net/spooky-stories.html
Key Vocabulary:
  • Fable: a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.
  • Irish Potato Famine: a famine in Ireland in the nineteenth century caused by the failure of successive potato crops in the 1840s; many people in Ireland starved and many left the country.
  • Disobedience: failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority.
  • Curse: a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.
  • Paranormal: denoting events or phenomena that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.
  • Science Fiction: fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes.
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
  • Before: Students will use a chart to make predictions about the book based on the title, cover, and title page. They will write down various predictions that they might have in one column. In the other column, they will explain why they made those predictions based on specific evidence from either the title, cover, or title page. An example of this chart can be found here:  http://thisreadingmama.com/activities-for-making-predictions/

T Chart for Making Predictions

  • During: Students will use post-it notes to keep track of the different characters that are in the book and how they are similar and different. Every couple of pages, students should be prepared to write on a post-it note either a similarity or difference between two or more characters that they had just read about.
  • After: Students will go home and research an age-appropriate ghost story, science fiction book, or story-telling fable that they may want to share with the rest of the class. This should be a book that is appropriate to share, that they have read before, and that they will be prepared to share and talk about with the rest of the class.
  1. Writing Activity- Students will write either a ghost story or a science fiction story of their own, about 1-2 pages. They are encouraged to be as creative and imaginative as possible, but keep it appropriate. After writing, the students are expected to know what the components and characteristics of a science fiction book or a spooky ghost story are.
Teacher’s Guide: https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ilfonline.org/resource/resmgr/2016-2017_YHBA_Middle_Grade_Resources/NightGardenerBookEval.pdf
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