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Reading Group Guide Once Upon a Tim #3: The Sea of Terror
By Stuart Gibbs About the Book
After helping Princess Grace foil the villainous Prince Ruprecht—twice!—junior knights Tim, Belinda, and Ferkle are on a new quest: this time to recover the Queen of Merryland’s precious golden fleece (and more importantly, the protective amulet in its pocket) from the Kingdom of Dinkum. The safety of all Merryland depends upon them.
But first they must face the deadly Sea of Terror and the dastardly perils it contains. Tim and his friends will have to use every ounce of bravery, valor, and intelligence they possess to navigate the treacherous waters—or else risk becoming flotsam on the waves. Discussion Questions
1. As the novel opens, Tim tells readers that “Once upon a time, you could barely get through the day without running into a vicious, bloodthirsty creature. The countryside was crawling with them. Literally. And, as a member of the Knight Brigade of the Great and Glorious Kingdom of Merryland, it was my job to fend them off. That was not easy.” (Chapter one) Given what you’ve read so far in the other Once Upon a Tim books, do you believe Tim’s work and life are truly difficult? What do you believe to be the most difficult parts of what he has to regularly endure?
2. Through the delightful illustrations that accompany the text, readers watch Tim and Belinda attempt to fight a bargleboar. Tim even shares a list of other vicious, bloodthirsty creatures they regularly encounter. Do you see this as the worst part of their jobs as knights? Why or why not? What might be even worse?
3. Based on what you learned from both the previous Once Upon a Tim books and The Sea of Terror
, what’s your impression of the Knight Brigade of the Great and Glorious Kingdom of Merryland? Which characters are your favorites? Are there any you find are not brave at all?
4. For most people in “olden times” (what we might refer to as the Middle Ages), an individual’s fate was believed to be set. How do Tim and Belinda continue to prove that despite this belief, it’s possible to still find ways to change their lives or choose what happens to them in the future?
5. Instead of admitting his fears of monstrous creatures, Tim reveals that “as scary as that was, there was something I was even more afraid of: having the other knights learn I was scared.” (Chapter one) In what ways do Tim’s concerns about what the other knights will think of him prove to be a hindrance?
6. After Tim disobeys an order from the lead knight, Sir Vyval screams, “‘Your actions didn’t just sully me and your fellow knights. They also humiliated us!’” (Chapter two) While Tim ultimately has saved the knights’ lives, Sir Vyyal is unhappy with him. Do you think his reaction is warranted? Why or why not? If you were in Tim’s position, what would you have done?
7. After the King of Merryland orders his knights to go on a potentially perilous journey to retrieve the queen’s golden fleece and protective amulet from the Kingdom of Dinkum, there is little discussion or thought about the potential outcomes for those on the mission. How might this be problematic? Why would it be better if there were more thought put behind such orders?
8. Sir Vyval tells the king, “‘I’m not saying that’s a bad plan but . . . you do know we aren’t a navy, right? None of us have ever been to sea. And there are all those monsters and perils to contend with. I mean, it’s called the Sea of Terror, not the Sea of Pleasantness. . . .’” (Chapter two) Based on the experiences of the knights, predict some ways that such a mission could go wrong.
9. Why is the Mystical Protective Amulet of Merryland so important to the royal family and the people of Merryland? Why does not having it in their possession make them so nervous?
10. When the king decrees that this mission will require every able-bodied man the kingdom has, Princess Grace suddenly declares, “‘I can go too!’” Why isn’t her bravery and willingness to assist on the mission well-received by her parents? What is it they expect of her instead? In what ways is it clear she doesn’t agree with their idea of who and what she should be?
11. While trying to help the knights better understand the utter vastness of the sea and just how dangerous the mission they’ve been assigned by the king really is, Sir Eberal declares, “‘Should something happen to the ship, you will sink into the great, watery depths of the sea, where you will die a miserable death by drowning—unless you are eaten by a sea monster first.’” (Chapter three) Do you think Sir Eberal’s choice to not go along with the other knights is the right one, though he may face significant consequences for this decision? Why or why not?
12. What are some examples of ways that Sir Vyval’s pride puts the knights in grave danger?
13. After discovering the Mystical Protective Amulet doesn’t work, Ferkle tells the group, “‘Well, I suspected that might be the case. . . . A lot of myths turn out to not be true.’” (Chapter sixteen) Why is this statement by Ferkle important? What does it prove about him as well?
14. Considering all that happens along the journey, what are the consequences of Tim’s repeated unwillingness to admit when he is afraid?
15. Though they aren’t the center of much of the villainy that happens in The Sea of Terror
, what continues to make Ruprecht and Nerlin obvious nemeses of Tim, Belinda, and Princess Grace?
16. After the knights abandon them, when Grace asks them if they have been working with Ruprecht and Nerlin the entire mission, Sir Vyval tells her, “‘We haven’t been in cahoots at all. We only switched sides this very minute.’” (Chapter sixteen) Consider the actions of the rest of the knights. Though switching sides may ultimately keep them safe from harm at sea, do you think it’s the right choice? Why or why not?
17. As the novel ends, readers learn that not all the challenges faced by Tim, Belinda, Grace, Ferkle, and Rover have been resolved, and the story ends on a cliff-hanger. What are your predictions for the next installment of the Once Upon a Tim series? IQ Booster Vocabulary Activities
- The Once Upon a Tim books are filled with big vocabulary words that are both fun to learn and use, and that make the story more engaging. Use the following activities to help readers practice using and learning these words so they can sound like geniuses too. Word Art!
- Drawing detailed pictures of a word’s meaning is a powerful tool to help students learn, understand, and retain a new vocabulary word. Choose the six words prior to making copies, or the student can choose the six trickiest words. Vocabulary Relay
a. Print out IQ booster words from The Sea of Terror
on one set of cards (copy this set a few times) and definitions, context, or fill-in-the blank sentences in which they could be used on another set (just one set).
b. Jumble up the words in a pile in the middle of the floor, and jumble up the definitions, context, and sentences to keep with you. Break students into teams of four or five.
c. Call out the definition/context/sentence, and give students some thinking time (8–10 seconds) to talk about what word it might be.
d. After the discussion time, call out “Word!” One member from each team runs to the center and tries to find the word in the pile. Consider having multiple sets of the words so more than one team can get it. Check to make sure they’re correct, and then discuss it briefly before the next round. Vocabulary Bingo
- After the group has learned at least twenty-five different vocabulary words from The Sea of Terror
, bingo is a game students love to play that will provide a great opportunity to review. Students simply write a vocabulary word from the novel in each space of their bingo card (you’ll need to create a template). Use review and discussion of The Sea of Terror
to provide the definition of one of the words. Each student should then locate the vocabulary word and cover it with a bingo chip. The first player to get five in a row, four corners, or blackout wins the game. Additional Extension Activities 1. Row, Row, Row Your Boat!
In The Sea of Terror
, after Tim, Belinda, Grace, and Ferkle are sent down the river by Ruprecht and Nerlin, their fate is uncertain. Using craft supplies and lots of cardboard, let readers work in small groups to design and create a boat that might be seaworthy enough to offer Tim and his friends a rescue. 2. Make Up a Monster!
Throughout The Sea of Terror
, readers encounter a bargleboar and several other scary and fantastical monsters on the journey to reclaim the Mystical Protective Amulet of Merryland. Using the list of unknown bloodthirsty creatures provided in chapter one of the novel, ask readers to select a creature not drawn in the book and to create their own drawing of it. Then have the student create five original character traits for the monster. After everyone has designed their own, allow readers to take turns sharing more about their monster. 3. Map It Out!
The mission to retrieve the queen’s golden fleece and the Mystical Protective Amulet sends Tim, Belinda, and the Knight Brigade on a watery adventure unlike any they’ve encountered before. Working in teams, use the novel’s sequence of events and large butcher paper to design an updated map that highlights the story’s landmarks and pitfalls. 4. Comic Construction: The Sea of Terror
is filled with delightful illustrations by Stacy Curtis. Using Stacy’s illustrations as inspiration, select a favorite scene from The Sea of Terror
and create either a digitally or manually illustrated graphic for that scene. Use either a digital comic strip creator (http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/
) or a printable comic book storyboard sheet (found online) to begin to design the storyboards for the selected scene.This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an associate professor in the Library Science Department in the College of Education at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature. This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.