Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
September 11, 2008 in Collins, Suzanne, Middle Grade Novel Tags: contemporary fantasy, Gregor the Overlander, Middle Grade Novel, predictions, quest novel, reading comprehension skills, sequencing, Suzanne Collins
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle-grade novel, contemporary fantasy
11-year-old boy as main character
Rating: The first book of a wonderful series that keeps you wanting more!
Short, short summary: Gregor and his two-year-old sister, Boots, fall into an air chute in their New York City apartment building’s laundry room. They fall into the Underworld, which is a place with violet-eyed humans, giant rats, talking bats, crawlers, and spinners. Gregor discovers that his dad, who has been missing for three years, is the rats’ prisoner, and Gregor must rescue him. He also finds out that he is the warrior named in a prophecy written long before Gregor was born. The novel follows Gregor and Boots on their adventure through the Underland.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. A quest novel is great for working on sequencing, an important comprehension skill. Your students or your child can make a story board, where they draw main events from the book in order and write a sentence to go with each event. The hardest part of this activity is often picking out major events that tell the story from beginning to end. Sometimes, students will draw a lot of events from the begining of the book, become tired, and then have a huge gap in the sequence of the story. You can help this problem by discussing events that students will want to make sure to include in their story boards. You can also draw story boards for individual chapters with a lot of action.
2. Family relationships are an important theme in this story, and you can use this theme to assign journal entries to your students or to have discussions with your child. Students can write on topics such as siblings, grandparents, or parents. They can write about people in their family and compare and contrast their family with Gregor’s family. Students can answer specific questions like: Would you go on a journey through the Underland to find a missing family member? Would you be scared? What would be the biggest challenge for you? Is that the same challenge that Gregor had to face?
3. Prediction skills can also be taught with this story, especially at the end of the book and if your students seem interested in reading book two. At the end of the story, Gregor finds out a little about the prophecy of bane. Ask students to predict what they think the prophecy of bane is, based on what they know about the prophecy in book one. Do they think Gregor will come back to the Underland? Will he always go through the laundry room air chute? What do you think his parents will do–let him go to the Underland or not? Ask students to write down their predictions, and then share book two with students either through literature circle groups, oral reading time, or independent reading. After students have read the book, ask them to see if their predictions were correct or close.
If you have used this story with students in your class or with your child at home, please leave suggestions here under comments.
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