(The Magic Misfits, Neil Patrick Harris.)
Soon enough, Carter was doing all of Uncle Sly’s tricks – only better. Carter had a special talent. His fingers were long and his tendons were taut, which gave him fast hands and expert card-shuffling skills. He could make coins vanish and reappear across the room. He could materialize playing cards out of thin air. He even revised Uncle Sly’s sneeze trick, using ice cubes instead of coins (which was rather impressive, given the size of the average human nostril).
Now, Uncle Sly wasn’t the type of man to celebrate his young nephew’s ability to change up his oldest and best illusion, but he was smart enough to notice an opportunity when it was sneezing ice cubes right in front of him. So on Carter’s birthday, instead of throwing him a party, Uncle Sly decided to test him. He sent the boy up to a random couple on the street to perform his very first show.
As Carter approached, he nervously slicked his blond mop of hair to the side, pinched his pale cheeks, and opened his blue eyes wide.
~After doing card tricks for the couple…~
Carter beamed like the sun. He had brought joy to the young couple. In earning their smiles, he recalled his own parents and their laughter. He didn’t care that there was no party. It was still a very good birthday…
At least until later, when Carter realized his uncle had stolen the man’s wristwatch and the woman’s wedding ring. Uncle Sly had used him. Carter knew too many stories in which villains stole from innocent people. These stories always made him feel as if someone had stolen his parents from him.
What was left of that earlier, good feeling squeezed out of him like a balloon with a leak in it.
- Which of these skills is not mentioned in the passage?
a) Vanishing coins and cards
b) Shuffling cards
c) Sneezing coins and cards
d) Sneezing ice cubes
2. Why is Carter’s ice-cube trick described as ‘impressive’?
a) Coins are much larger than ice cubes
b) His uncle said it was better than his own coin-sneezing trick
c) It’d be difficult to sneeze ice due to how small human nostrils are
d) It’d be difficult to sneeze ice cubes due to how small human nostrils are
3. On Carter’s birthday, Uncle Sly decides to:
a) Throw Carter a birthday party so he can perform magic tricks for the first time
b) Test Carter by seeing how well he can do magic tricks at his party
c) Teach Carter how to do magic tricks, like sneezing ice cubes
d) Tell Carter to perform magic tricks so that Uncle Sly can steal from the audience
4. How does Carter feel about his parents?
a) He dislikes them because Uncle Sly is a better guardian than they are
b) He misses them because they have vanished
c) He loves them because they taught him how to do magic tricks
d) He doesn’t mention his parents at all in this passage
5. When Carter sees the couple’s reaction to his tricks, he feels:
a) Happy, because he successfully distracted them while Uncle Sly stole from them
b) Happy, because doing these sorts of magic tricks is what his parents wanted for him
c) Neutral, because he doesn’t really care about their feelings
d) Happy, because he has made them happy
6. Which of these is an example of a simile?
a) “His fingers were long and his tendons were taut.”
b) “…he was smart enough to notice an opportunity when it was sneezing ice cubes right in front of him.”
c) “What was left of that earlier, good feeling squeezed out of him like a balloon with a leak in it.”
d) “…he nervously slicked his blond mop of hair to the side…”
7. “As Carter approached, he nervously slicked his blond mop of hair to the side, pinched his pale cheeks, and opened his blue eyes wide.” Why does Carter do this?
a) He is a vain person who cares very much about his appearance
b) He wants to look as cute as possible so that the couple likes him
c) He is nervous and doing all of this helps him to calm down
d) He’s trying to impress Uncle Sly with his appearance
8. This passage is broken up into different paragraphs. Would it be better if it was all put together into a single paragraph instead?
a) No, because the paragraph would be too crammed with information
b) No, because the general rule is to write a new paragraph when there’s a new idea
c) No, because readers will find just one big paragraph more difficult to read
d) All of the above
e) None of the above
9. Why do you think the author might have named a character ‘Uncle Sly’?
a) To hint to us that Uncle Sly is sneaky and untrustworthy
b) To show us that Uncle Sly is clever and trustworthy
c) There’s no reason, he just thought it was a nice name
d) The author had a sneaky uncle and wanted to put him in the book
10. This passage comes from a book. Which genre do you think the book could be?
a) Mystery adventure
c) Comedy adventure
11. In the last question, you said what the book’s genre could be. Why did you choose this answer? (Reasons can include the passage’s tone, dialogue, plot, etc.)
Any answer involving witty narration (e.g. “which was rather impressive, given the size of the average human nostril”), the light-hearted writing style and/or the funny yet adventurous plot would be acceptable.
The original passage and questions are here!
Note: This passage is from The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. To my knowledge, utilising this passage as a free educational exercise falls under fair use. If not, please let me know. I want to make sure that everything on this website is fair and right. The questions are of my own creation.