Review – The Key to Rondo (Emily Rodda)

Key words: fantasy, adventure, fairytale elements, male protagonist, female protagonist, first book in a series, trilogy, 2007.

A short and sweet review for today! If you want a fantasy book with loveable characters, wholesome friendships and a world inside of a music box, this is the book for you. Seriously, it has everything you could possibly want like a model pig named Bertha and a giant talking duck named Freda. (They are the best characters in the book, to be honest.)

Image result for key to rondo front cover
The front cover (featuring Mutt!)

The story revolves around Leo and Mimi, two cousins who don’t particularly like each-other. (Leo thinks Mimi is rude while Mimi thinks Leo is boring. It’s a whole thing.) Their Great-Aunt Bethany Langlander passes away, leaving an old music box to Leo. There are rules that Leo has to follow if he is to take care of this music box:

  1. Wind the box three times only.
  2. Never wind the box while the music plays.
  3. Never move the box while the music plays.
  4. Never close the lid until the music has stopped.

Naturally, Mimi decides to disobey and does the exact opposite, much to Leo’s horror. That’s when the Blue Queen arrives. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but I will say this: the Blue Queen comes from the magical world inside of the music box. The world itself is called, you guessed it, ‘Rondo’. All the music box’s rules are to protect this world and to guard it from intruders. Since they didn’t follow these rules, Leo and Mimi find themselves inside the music box. Why? Because the Blue Queen stole Mimi’s dog (‘Mutt’) and took him back to Rondo. As we all know, stealing dogs is one of the worst crimes you can commit. It makes sense that Leo and Mimi would try to rescue him!

The Key to Rondo: Emily Rodda: 9780545103817: Amazon.com: Books
The blurb (feat. Tye the awesome tiger lady)

Rondo itself is a lovely world to read about. Everyone is named after their occupation (e.g. Posie is the town florist) or their personality (e.g. Jolly is…well, a jolly person!). There are also talking animals. They are definitely my favourite characters, especially Bertha and Freda. They’re hilarious. “How are they hilarious?” you ask. You’ll need to find out for yourself!

The book is the first of the Rondo trilogy. Although it may feel a bit unfinished when you complete the book, remember that there are two more books to read! The Key to Rondo introduces us to the main characters and the setting, which helps us to grow attached to everything in the story. Plus, one of the novel’s main messages is about the importance of imagination!

The Key to Rondo is a marvellous fantasy that’s perfect for light readers. Fantasy enthusiast Felipe and casual reader Jun recommend this book!

Review – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)

Listen to this narration while you read!

Keywords: mystery, chemistry, 1950’s, fiction, murder, poison, England, detailed descriptions, first in a series, recommended by a friend.

Luci 🙂

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Now, you don’t see a title like that every day! This was recommended to me by my book-loving friend Luci. When she first suggested this book, I was taken aback by the name. What kind of book could this be? Is it a book about pies?

Not quite! It is, in fact, a mystery book filled with murder, poison, and…well, pie, actually. The main character is named Flavia De Luce (a name as interesting as the book’s title!). She is no ordinary 11 year old (but then again, there’s no such thing!). Living in a literal mansion in the English countryside, she spends her days studying chemistry and taking revenge on her mean-spirited sisters.

The front cover

One day, a dead snipe (a kind of bird) shows up on her doorstep. A red stamp is found pushed through its beak (Take note of that; stamps are a HUGE part of this story). If that’s not weird enough, Flavia’s father reacts to the bird in an incredibly suspicious way. He turns pale and pretty much runs for his life. So that’s, uh, something to consider. Dead birds aren’t pleasant to look at, sure, but to look as though you’re about to be murdered? Highly suspicious.

Flavia thinks so too. So begins her detective work into the issue: who delivered the dead bird and why? Who is that dead body in the garden? Why are her sisters so annoying? (I’d really like to know the answer to that last one!)

Flavia’s vocabulary is something to behold as well. There are some words and phrases in her narration that thoroughly impressed me! The best narration, though, is when she describes her chemical experiments. If you already like chemistry, you’ll love these parts; Flavia takes the time to explain all the chemicals and processes she studies. If you’re like me and you’re a little scared of chemistry (it looks difficult, not gonna lie), don’t worry. Plot twist: you’ll probably like the chemistry parts too! Flavia’s descriptive language makes even the most mundane parts of chemistry seem magical. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to understanding why some people love chemistry so much! Here’s an example:

Flavia de Luce by Brigette Barrager (this is exactly how I pictured her!)

“With the water bubbling furiously, I watched as the steam found its way through the tubing and escaped into the flask among the leaves. Already they were beginning to curl and soften as the hot vapour opened the tiny pockets between their cells, releasing the oils that were the essence of this living plant.

This was the way the ancient alchemists had practised their art: fire and steam, steam and fire. Distillation.” (pg. 11)

How lyrical! It is by far the most enjoyable description of distillation I’ve ever read!

As for flaws, the one thing I can think of is the pacing. When I say ‘pacing’ I’m talking about the speed at which the plot moves. This book – to me at least – felt a bit too slow at times. There were moments where I thought, “Come on, get to the good parts faster!” That’s the only criticism I have, though. Everything else was splendid!

Obviously, Millie loves this mystery book. Louise loves it too, if only for its wonderful description of chemistry experiments!

Psst! Something to think about:

This book’s title is based on a quote you can find on the first page. It goes: “Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?” (The Art of Cookery, William King). What do you think this means? How does it relate to the book?

Reading Passage 6 – Stepan and Dolly Oblonsky

Keywords: Year 7+, 13 questions overall, 9 MCQs, 4 short-answer questions, classic, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, 19th century literature, 19th century Russia.

(Chapter 2, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy.)

Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself. He was incapable of deceiving himself and persuading himself that he repented of his conduct. He could not at this date repent of the fact that he, a handsome, susceptible man of thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, and only a year younger than himself. All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife. But he felt all the difficulty of his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her. He had never clearly thought out the subject, but he had vaguely conceived that his wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to her, and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way remarkable or interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view. It had turned out quite the other way.

Questions

  1. Stepan’s wife Dolly is mad at him. Why?

a) He isn’t in love with her.

b) He cheated on her with a younger woman.

c) He cheated on her without her knowledge.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry for her and their children.

2. This passage is written in ____________ and in _____________.

a) Third-person, past tense

b) First-person, past tense

c) Third-person, present tense

d) First-person, present tense

3. What assumptions did Stepan make about Dolly’s reaction to the affair?

a) He assumed that she had already known for years and that she decided to just ignore it.

b) He assumed that she would react in the same way she did: being upset and angry.

c) He assumed that she wouldn’t really care about the affair.

d) He assumed she already knew and was waiting for the right time to bring it up.

4. This passage’s writing style can best be described as:

a) Perfunctory and narrative

b) Wordy and persuasive

c) Complex and narrative

d) Informative and narrative

5. What is the main thing Stepan is sorry for?

a) He’s sorry for the way he has hurt Dolly’s feelings.

b) He’s sorry that he has broken Dolly’s trust.

c) He’s sorry that he wasn’t able to hide his affair properly.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry at all.

6. Stepan describes Dolly as “merely a good mother”. This is:

a) An insult, since Stepan doesn’t value motherhood

b) A compliment, since Stepan finds motherhood important

c) An insult, since Dolly isn’t actually a good mother

d) A joke, since Stepan and Dolly don’t have any children

7. Stepan believes that Dolly “ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view”. What does this mean?

a) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to allow him to accept it.

b) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to have her own affair with someone else.

c) Dolly is being fair in her distressed reaction to Stepan’s affair.

d) Dolly is being fair in her attitude towards Stepan after she found out about the affair.

8. If you had to add a line break (i.e. break up the paragraph), where would be the best place to do it?

a) After the first sentence (“Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself.”)

b) After the sixth sentence (“Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her.”)

c) After the fourth sentence (“All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife.”)

d) After the ninth sentence (“It had turned out quite the other way.”)

9. What is the overall tone of this passage?

a) Detached and critical

b) Witty and omniscient

c) Comedic and informal

d) Subjective and sagacious

10. If Dolly read this passage, how do you think she’d feel about Stepan’s perspective?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

11. When is Stepan an honest person? How do we know this?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Describe Stepan’s character with two different adjectives. Use quotes to support your answer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

13. What is Stepan’s opinion of Dolly? Use one quote to support your answer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

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Note: This passage is from Chapter 2 of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. 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.

Reading Passage 6 – Stepan and Dolly Oblonsky ANSWERS

Keywords: fiction, Year 7+, 13 questions overall, 9 MCQs, 4 short-answer questions, classic, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, 19th century literature, 19th century Russia.

(Chapter 2, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy.)

Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself. He was incapable of deceiving himself and persuading himself that he repented of his conduct. He could not at this date repent of the fact that he, a handsome, susceptible man of thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five living and two dead children, and only a year younger than himself. All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife. But he felt all the difficulty of his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her. He had never clearly thought out the subject, but he had vaguely conceived that his wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to her, and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way remarkable or interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view. It had turned out quite the other way.

Answers

  1. Stepan’s wife Dolly is mad at him. Why?

a) He isn’t in love with her.

b) He cheated on her with a younger woman.

c) He cheated on her without her knowledge.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry for her and their children.

2. This passage is written in ____________ and in _____________.

a) Third-person, past tense

b) First-person, past tense

c) Third-person, present tense

d) First-person, present tense

3. What assumptions did Stepan make about Dolly’s reaction to the affair?

a) He assumed that she had already known for years and that she decided to just ignore it.

b) He assumed that she would react in the same way she did: being upset and angry.

c) He assumed that she wouldn’t really care about the affair.

d) He assumed she already knew and was waiting for the right time to bring it up.

4. This passage’s writing style can best be described as:

a) Perfunctory and narrative

b) Wordy and persuasive

c) Complex and narrative

d) Informative and narrative

5. What is the main thing Stepan is sorry for?

a) He’s sorry for the way he has hurt Dolly’s feelings.

b) He’s sorry that he has broken Dolly’s trust.

c) He’s sorry that he wasn’t able to hide his affair properly.

d) He doesn’t feel sorry at all.

6. Stepan describes Dolly as “merely a good mother”. This is:

a) An insult, since Stepan doesn’t value motherhood

b) A compliment, since Stepan finds motherhood important

c) An insult, since Dolly isn’t actually a good mother

d) A joke, since Stepan and Dolly don’t have any children

7. Stepan believes that Dolly “ought from a sense of fairness to take an indulgent view”. What does this mean?

a) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to accept it.

b) The fairest reaction Dolly should have towards Stepan’s affair is to have her own affair with someone else.

c) Dolly is being fair in her distressed reaction to Stepan’s affair.

d) Dolly is being fair in her attitude towards Stepan after she found out about the affair.

8. If you had to add a line break (i.e. break up the paragraph), where would be the best place to do it?

a) After the first sentence (“Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself.”)

b) After the sixth sentence (“Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect on her.”)

c) After the fourth sentence (“All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife.”)

d) After the ninth sentence (“It had turned out quite the other way.”)

9. What is the overall tone of this passage?

a) Detached and critical

b) Witty and omniscient

c) Comedic and informal

d) Subjective and sagacious

10. If Dolly read this passage, how do you think she’d feel about Stepan’s perspective?

Considering her negative reaction towards Stepan’s affair, she probably wouldn’t be happy to hear that he isn’t sorry that he hurt her feelings. She’d most likely disagree with Stepan’s logic (and pretty much everything that he’s said in this passage).

11. When is Stepan an honest person? How do we know this?

Stepan is only honest when he thinks about himself. In other words, he never lies to himself. We know this because of the very first line: “Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself.”

12. Describe Stepan’s character with two different adjectives. Use quotes to support your answer.

Any adjective concerning Stepan’s selfishness, honesty with himself, promiscuity or narcissism would be acceptable. Every sentence is actually related to this question (depending on the adjectives you choose)!

13. What is Stepan’s opinion of Dolly? Use one quote to support your answer.

He doesn’t find her attractive, interesting or young. The best quote to use here would be: “He had even supposed that she, a worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way remarkable or interesting…”. Other acceptable answers include his disregard for her feelings or his underestimating her reaction to the affair.

The original passage and questions are here!

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Go to the right side of the page and find the blue box called ‘Follow Me via Email’. Enter your email and you’ll receive a message every time something new is posted! 🙂

Note: This passage is from Chapter 2 of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. 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.

Review – Book of a Thousand Days (Shannon Hale)

Listen to this narration while you read!

Key words: fantasy, adventure, diary fiction, friendship, romance, growing up, royalty, illustrated, stand-alone, 2007.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
The edition I read as a child.

This is honestly one of my favourite books ever. No, I’m not being hyperbolic. If someone asked me what books I would bring if I was stuck on a desert island, I’d choose Book of a Thousand Days. Twice. (Then I’d bring Little Women, but that’s a story for another post.)

The story is written like a diary, which means its genre is ‘diary fiction’. Adding a bit of spice, the author Shannon Hale decided to create her own world: The Eight Realms. This world prays to seven gods, all of whom represent different things (e.g. Under is the god of mischief). Every kingdom is named after a different god or goddess. One of the kingdoms is named after Titor, god of animals. This is where the majority of the story takes place!

Shannon "buy stuff from ur local bookshop" Hale on Twitter: "More interiors of  BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS. 10 years later, I still feel honored that I got to  tell this story… "
One of Dashti’s drawings (this is her self-portrait!)

The main character, Dashti, is a strong and wise teenager who finds herself trapped in a tower for seven years. Trapped with her is Lady Saren, the Lady of Titor’s Garden. Dashti is Lady Saren’s maid. Because of this, she takes care of Saren and pretty much does all the work around the tower (cooking, cleaning etc.). Not gonna lie, you’ll probably be annoyed by Lady Saren a few times. However, she develops into a braver and more self-realised person, as does Dashti. In fact, I’d say that this book is one of the best examples of character development I’ve ever read!

Without revealing too much, I will describe what’s in this book: war, royal romance, executions, wolves, jokes about ankles (it makes sense in context) and an adorable cat named ‘My Lord’. Plus, Dashti adds her own drawings into the diary, which allows us an even closer glimpse into her life.

A map of The Eight Realms

Dashti’s descriptive language is also something to behold. I’d estimate that the way she writes about the world influenced 30% of my own writing style. It’s just so unique! She describes people as having ‘kind eyes’ and uses wonderful phrases like “Ancestors, forgive me”. Some of the most delightful parts of the story are when Dashti sings. Instead of singing full songs, she instead crafts little poems that heal and comfort. Literally. Her songs genuinely heal people, it’s amazing.

Look, I cannot overemphasise how much this book means to me. If you read it, hit me up; I desperately need someone to talk to about this gem of a story!

This is a great fantasy diary, meaning that Felipe and Jenny adore this book! They cannot recommend it enough.

Reading Passage 5 – Short-term Memory

Keywords: Year 8+, 15 questions, 12 MCQs, 3 short-answer questions, science, non-fiction, National Geographic.

(“Limited Capacity Storage: Short-term memory”. Memory: What It Is, How It Works, and Ways You Can Improve It, National Geographic, Tula Karras.)

Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ has short-term memory loss.

Limited capacity storage: Short-term memory

Our limited capacity storage systems aren’t meant to retain information for very long. Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly unless we have a reason to retain it or unless we practice it. While this sounds inefficient — why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while? — it’s actually a good thing. Like a hoarder with objects they will never use, our brain would become so crowded remembering everything we experienced that we wouldn’t be able to find and retrieve the things we truly need and want to remember. Although experts generally divide our limited capacity storage systems into short-term memory and working memory, many experts consider short-term memory a component within working memory. Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.

Short-term memory

Short-term (or immediate) memory is the ability to remember a short list of things within a short span of time — usually no longer than 30 seconds and sometimes less. Short-term memories are not stored permanently, but rather stay on our radar briefly in the present moment. We often use short-term memory when we don’t have things in our environment to cue us — so we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind by repeating it over and over if we can’t write it down, or when remembering someone’s phone number, or when holding figures in our head while doing an arithmetic problem.

Questions

  1. What best summarises the primary aim of this passage?

a) To inform the reader on the attributes of short-term memory

b) To persuade the reader of short-term memory’s flaws

c) To illuminate upon the positive attributes of short-term memory

d) To detail short-term memory and its relationship to working memory

2. Which of these quotes is an example of a simile?

a) “Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.”

b) “…we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind…”

c) “…why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while?”

d) “Like a hoarder with objects they will never use…”

3. Look for any parentheses in the passage. What is their purpose?

a) They include extra, irrelevant information

b) They give a synonym for a previously described term

c) They provide an example to illustrate a point further

d) There are no parentheses in this passage

4. According to the passage, why is short-term memory a positive thing?

a) If it didn’t exist, our memory would become too cluttered with too much information

b) It allows us to consciously forget things

c) If it didn’t exist, we would forget every memory we came across

d) It helps us to study and encode information, like phone numbers

5. “Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly…” This comparison most likely aims to:

a) Make the article more appealing to the younger generations

b) Illustrate the idea in a way that is understandable to the average reader

c) Make money for the author through Snapchat/Instagram sponsorship

d) Describe the longevity of memory

6. What is the purpose of using sub-sections in this passage?

a) To divide diametrical pieces of information into different areas

b) To make the passage seem less wordy and prolix

c) To categorise pieces of information that focus on different yet related ideas

d) To extend the amount of information that is contained in the passage

7. Look for the em-dashes. In this passage, what are they not used for?

a) To interject with an example that expands upon an idea

b) To clarify an otherwise ambiguous piece of information

c) To divide sentences, making them more efficient

d) To replace a punctuation mark

8. According to the passage, short-term memory is:

a) A well-known and clearly defined concept

b) A definite sub-section within working memory

c) A widely-accepted yet somewhat underdeveloped idea

d) A detailed concept that has remained unchanged from its conception

9. Which of these statements is false?

a) Short-term memory and working memory are two separate concepts

b) Short-term memory holds information for around 30 seconds

c) It’s impossible to remember information held in short-term memory

d) It’s possible that short-term memory is a part of working memory

10. Which of the following would be the best alternate title for this passage?

a) The Disadvantages of Short-term Memory

b) Defining and Explaining Short-term Memory

c) An Analysis of Limited Capacity Storage Systems

d) The Relationship Between Short-term Memory and Working Memory

11. What is this passage’s tone?

a) Direct and avuncular

b) Formal and apoplectic

c) Informative and partial

d) Objective and sagacious

12. Based on this passage, what is a limited-capacity storage system?

a) A kind of memory that only remembers lists for a short time

b) Unlimited storage that contains permanent memories

c) A mental network that creates short-term memories

d) A category of memories that hold information briefly

13. Write down a quote from the passage that uses inclusive language.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

14. “While this sounds inefficient…“. What is the word ‘this’ referring to?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

15. List two things the passage has taught you about short-term memory.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

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Note: this passage is from the November 2020 Memory issue of National Geographic Magazine. 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.

Reading Passage 5 – Short-term Memory ANSWERS

Keywords: Year 8+, 15 questions, 12 MCQs, 3 short-answer questions, science, non-fiction, National Geographic.

(“Limited Capacity Storage: Short-term memory”. Memory: What It Is, How It Works, and Ways You Can Improve It, National Geographic, Tula Karras.)

Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ has short-term memory loss.

Limited capacity storage: Short-term memory

Our limited capacity storage systems aren’t meant to retain information for very long. Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly unless we have a reason to retain it or unless we practice it. While this sounds inefficient — why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while? — it’s actually a good thing. Like a hoarder with objects they will never use, our brain would become so crowded remembering everything we experienced that we wouldn’t be able to find and retrieve the things we truly need and want to remember. Although experts generally divide our limited capacity storage systems into short-term memory and working memory, many experts consider short-term memory a component within working memory. Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.

Short-term memory

Short-term (or immediate) memory is the ability to remember a short list of things within a short span of time — usually no longer than 30 seconds and sometimes less. Short-term memories are not stored permanently, but rather stay on our radar briefly in the present moment. We often use short-term memory when we don’t have things in our environment to cue us — so we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind by repeating it over and over if we can’t write it down, or when remembering someone’s phone number, or when holding figures in our head while doing an arithmetic problem.

Answers

  1. What best summarises the primary aim of this passage?

a) To inform the reader on the attributes of short-term memory

b) To persuade the reader of short-term memory’s flaws

c) To illuminate upon the positive attributes of short-term memory

d) To detail short-term memory and its relationship to working memory

2. Which of these quotes is an example of a simile?

a) “Science is still trying to distinguish their many features.”

b) “…we might engage short-term memory to hold a list of grocery items in our mind…”

c) “…why can’t we hold every bit of information for a long while?”

d) “Like a hoarder with objects they will never use…”

3. Look for any parentheses in the passage. What is their purpose?

a) They include extra, irrelevant information

b) They give a synonym for a previously described term

c) They provide an example to illustrate a point further

d) There are no parentheses in this passage

4. According to the passage, why is short-term memory a positive thing?

a) If it didn’t exist, our memory would become too cluttered with too much information

b) It allows us to consciously forget things

c) If it didn’t exist, we would forget every memory we came across

d) It helps us to study and encode information, like phone numbers

5. “Similar to a Snapchat message or an Instagram story, information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly…” This comparison most likely aims to:

a) Make the article more appealing to the younger generations

b) Illustrate the idea in a way that is understandable to the average reader

c) Make money for the author through Snapchat/Instagram sponsorship

d) Describe the longevity of memory

6. What is the purpose of using sub-sections in this passage?

a) To divide diametrical pieces of information into different areas

b) To make the passage seem less wordy and prolix

c) To categorise pieces of information that focus on different yet related ideas

d) To extend the amount of information that is contained in the passage

7. Look for the em-dashes. In this passage, what are they not used for?

a) To interject with an example that expands upon an idea

b) To clarify an otherwise ambiguous piece of information

c) To divide sentences, making them more efficient

d) To replace a punctuation mark

8. According to the passage, short-term memory is:

a) A well-known and clearly defined concept

b) A definite sub-section within working memory

c) A widely-accepted yet somewhat underdeveloped idea

d) A detailed concept that has remained unchanged from its conception

9. Which of these statements is false?

a) Short-term memory and working memory are two separate concepts

b) Short-term memory holds information for around 30 seconds

c) It’s impossible to remember information held in short-term memory

d) It’s possible that short-term memory is a part of working memory

10. Which of the following would be the best alternate title for this passage?

a) The Disadvantages of Short-term Memory

b) Defining and Explaining Short-term Memory

c) An Analysis of Limited Capacity Storage Systems

d) The Relationship Between Short-term Memory and Working Memory

11. What is this passage’s tone?

a) Direct and avuncular

b) Formal and apoplectic

c) Informative and partial

d) Objective and sagacious

12. Based on this passage, what is a limited-capacity storage system?

a) A kind of memory that only remembers lists for a short time

b) Unlimited storage that contains permanent memories

c) A mental network that creates short-term memories

d) A category of memories that hold information briefly

13. Write down a quote from the passage that uses inclusive language.

Any quote the includes ‘we’, ‘our’ or any other inclusive words would be an acceptable answer.

14. “While this sounds inefficient…“. What is the word ‘this’ referring to?

‘This’ refers to the concept that “information that enters our brain through our senses fade rather quickly unless we have a reason to retain it or unless we practice it.” You can use that quote if you want, but most of your answer should be in your own words.

15. List two things the passage has taught you about short-term memory.

Anything from the duration of short-term memory to its relationship with working memory is acceptable.

The original passage and questions are here!

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Note: this passage is from the November 2020 Memory issue of National Geographic Magazine. 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.

Review – Quirkology (Richard Wiseman)

Listen to this narration while you read!

Keywords: non-fiction, science, quirky, light-hearted, research, funny, reasonably strong vocabulary, scientific terms, stand-alone book.

The front cover

This is quite possibly one of the most interesting books I’ve reviewed on this blog. You see, I’m not usually one for non-fiction – especially ‘sciency’ stuff. It generally comes across as needlessly complex and dull to me. Richard Wiseman’s Quirkology, though, completely destroys the ‘science is boring’ stereotype! It’s genuinely fun and interesting to read. However, the most important thing is how it speaks to the reader. Unlike most scientific texts, it doesn’t talk to the reader like they’re dumb and the author is oh so smart. Do you know what I mean? Like, when you can just tell that the writer is only using fancy words to say, “Oh, look to me, I am so intelligent! My writing is only for people who are at my level of fanciness!” Blergh.

Richard Wiseman is nothing like that. On the contrary, he is a scientist for everyone – particularly those who like the quirkier side of life. He writes scientifically, yes, but never in a patronizing way. His stories are engaging as well as educational. Honestly, just the summaries of each experiment are interesting enough on their own! For example, one of Wiseman’s experiments tries to figure out – once and for all – what is the world’s funniest joke? Wiseman’s experiment was this huge worldwide thing that involved online surveys, polls, and chicken costumes. No, I will not elaborate further. Go read it for yourself! 🙂

Professor Wiseman

Every chapter is categorized by a quirky aspect of human nature. One section is all about superstitions and how they develop. Another is all about horoscopes and personality tests. The best thing about this book is that you don’t need to read the chapters in order; just look at the sections and see which ones interest you most! My personal favourite section is the one about personality tests and their viability. It’s amazing what people will choose to believe about themselves (and how those beliefs actually change who they are!).

Profesor Wiseman and an esteemed colleague

This is a great book to study or to simply enjoy. I have used this book as study material for my private English students and they generally like it! Finding books that are both educational but in a quirky and non-patronizing way is surprisingly uncommon. I’m glad people like Richard Wiseman exist. The world would be much more duller without them!

Quirkology is filled to the brim with research. Naturally, Sakura the research-loving cat adores this book beyond words. Scientific Louise also loves this book and recommends it heartily!

Psst! Fun fact: Richard Wiseman has his own YouTube channel named Quirkology! You might have even seem some of his videos (he has been popular on YouTube for a decade now). Definitely check out his videos! This is one of my favourites.

Reading Passage 4 – The Human Seasons

Keywords: Year 7-8, poetry, the Romantic period, poetic techniques, literary devices, human nature, 8 MCQs, 2 short-answer questions.

The following is a complete poem by John Keats. It’s titled ‘The Human Seasons’.

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
     There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
     Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
     Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
     Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
     He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
     Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

Questions

  1. This poem’s tone would best be described as:

a) Pessimistic and sarcastic

b) Apoplectic and lyrical

c) Acerbic and bellicose

d) Observant and explanatory

2. In this poem, Man is described as being like two animals (a bird and a cow). This is an example of:

a) A metaphor and a zoomorphism

b) A simile and alliteration

c) A triptych and a zoomorphism

d) A simile and consonance

3. What is this poem’s structure?

a) ABAB ABAB ABAB CC

b) ABBB ABBB ABBB CC

c) ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

d) AABB CCDD EEFF GG

4. Which of these is a literary device that is used in the poem?

a) Imagery

b) Alliteration

c) Anecdote

d) Triptych

5. As established, Man is associated with cows in the poem. Which line does this?

a) “his Winter too of pale misfeature”

b) “Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought”

c) “when his wings / He furleth close”

d) “when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span”

6. Autumn has the highest number of lines and the most description. What is a possible reason behind this choice?

a) Autumn represents the slowest stage of a life; a high number of lines reflects that longevity.

b) Autumn is John Keats’ favourite season, as evidenced by his detailed description of it.

c) Autumn is the longest season of the year, so it is only logical for it to have the highest number of lines.

d) Autumn is a time of play and pleasure. A high number of lines reinforces those themes.

7. Which of these line best demonstrate the use of contrast?

a) “when his wings / He furleth close” and “he would forego his mortal nature

b) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

c) “Four Seasons fill the measure of the year” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

d) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “His soul has in its Autumn…contented so to look / On mists in idleness

8. Winter is spoken about _____________. This is most likely to illustrate ___________.

a) Sporadically, winter’s longevity

b) A lot, winter’s brevity

c) Briefly, winter’s brevity

d) Briefly, winter’s longevity

9. Is this poem about actual seasons or something else? How can you tell? Provide two pieces of evidence from the text to support your answer (adjectives, the title, dialogue etc.).

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Choose one season. What kind of personality does this season show in the poem? Provide three adjectives/lines from the text to support your answer.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check your answers here!

Note: 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.

Reading Passage 4 – The Human Seasons ANSWERS

Keywords: Year 7-8, poetry, the Romantic period, poetic techniques, literary devices, human nature, 8 MCQs, 2 short-answer questions.

The correct answers are highlighted in yellow!

The following is a complete poem by John Keats. It’s titled ‘The Human Seasons’.

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
     There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
     Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
     Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
     Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
     He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
     Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

Questions

  1. This poem’s tone would best be described as:

a) Pessimistic and sarcastic

b) Apoplectic and lyrical

c) Acerbic and bellicose

d) Observant and explanatory

2. In this poem, Man is described as being like two animals (a bird and a cow). This is an example of:

a) A metaphor and a zoomorphism

b) A simile and alliteration

c) A triptych and a zoomorphism

d) A simile and consonance

3. What is this poem’s structure?

a) ABAB ABAB ABAB CC

b) ABBB ABBB ABBB CC

c) ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

d) AABB CCDD EEFF GG

4. Which of these is a literary device that is used in the poem?

a) Imagery

b) Alliteration

c) Anecdote

d) Triptych

5. As established, Man is associated with cows in the poem. Which line does this?

a) “his Winter too of pale misfeature”

b) “Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought”

c) “when his wings / He furleth close”

d) “when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span”

6. Autumn has the highest number of lines and the most description. What is a possible reason behind this choice?

a) Autumn represents the slowest stage of a life; a high number of lines reflects that longevity.

b) Autumn is John Keats’ favourite season, as evidenced by his detailed description of it.

c) Autumn is the longest season of the year, so it is only logical for it to have the highest number of lines.

d) Autumn is a time of play and pleasure. A high number of lines reinforces those themes.

7. Which of these line best demonstrate the use of contrast?

a) “when his wings / He furleth close” and “he would forego his mortal nature

b) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

c) “Four Seasons fill the measure of the year” and “There are four seasons in the mind of man

d) “He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear / Takes in all beauty with an easy span” and “His soul has in its Autumn…contented so to look / On mists in idleness

8. Winter is spoken about _____________. This is most likely to illustrate ___________.

a) Sporadically, winter’s longetivity

b) A lot, winter’s brevity

c) Briefly, winter’s brevity

d) Briefly, winter’s longevity

9. Is this poem about actual seasons or something else? How can you tell? Provide two pieces of evidence from the text to support your answer (adjectives, the title, dialogue etc.).

Keats is using the seasons to represent stages of a human’s life. We know this because of the second line: “There are four seasons in the mind of man”. Any answer that pointed out adjectives relating to seasons and/or lines directly linking seasons to a life stage (e.g. “quiet coves / His soul has in its Autumn”) is accepted. The poem’s title (“The Human Seasons”) also counts as acceptable evidence.

10. Choose one season. What kind of personality does this season show in the poem? Provide three adjectives/lines from the text to support your answer.

Spring = anything relating to “lusty”, “beauty” or “easy”.

Summer = anything related to “dreaming”, “ruminating” or “luxury”.

Autumn = anything related to “quiet”, “idleness” or “closed”.

Winter = anything related to “pale”, “misfeature” or “mortal”.

The original passage and questions are here!

Have any questions? Feel free to message or comment! I’m always happy to help. 🙂

Note: 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.