Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions is a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman. It was first published in the United States in 1998, and in the United Kingdom in 1999.
Chivalry by Neil Gaiman from his anthology Smoke & Mirrors, we meet Mrs. Whitaker, a lonely widow, with no children of her own. We assume she leads a quiet and uneventful life - she collects her pension, visits Oxfam to buy various bits of bric a brac and the occasional Mills & Boon novel for a few pence. She has tea with an equally elderly lady and visits a friend with a damaged hip in hospital. She is unremarkable in every way. An elderly person none of us would like twice at.
Yet, she manages to find the Holy Grail in Oxfam. Her reaction is one of quiet surprise and she buys it, along with two M&B novels and she takes it home, where she washes out the red dusty stuff in the cup (!!!) and then lets it soak for a bit, before polishing it to a high sheen. She places it on her mantelpiece along with an old photo of her husband (now deceased) and a small soulful china basset hound.
Sir Galaad appears at her door, a knight in shining armour, on a Right High and Noble Quest, to procure the Holy Grail. Behind him his giant horse is tethered to her gate. Mrs. Whitaker takes to the young man, but only after she sees his credentials to make sure he is who he is. Sir Galaad spots the Holy Grail, the Sangreal, and begs Mrs. Whitaker to let him have it. She refuses. She is kindly but refuses.
Galaad visits a few more times. He offers her an amazing sword in return for the cup but she turns him down. He visits again, and he is a bit more battle weary than before. This time around her the Philospher's Stone and the Egg of a Phoenix. But he also offers her the Apple of Life. As Mrs. W holds the apple in her hand, some of the juice leaks onto her fingers and she licks it. She remembers what it was like being young, being married to her husband and to feel the eyes of handsome young men on her. She carefully places the apple back down, handing it back to Galaad. She gives him the grail and keeps the egg and stone, replacing the grail on the mantelpiece.
Galaad rides off on his giant horse, still a paragon of beauty and youth, grail quest fulfilled. Mrs. W visits Oxfam again shortly thereafter and notices that the young girl behind the till was no longer in attendance. Turns out she had run off with some handsome youth on a horse. She smiles to herself and putters around the shop and finds an ancient looking lamp...she looks at it carefully, considers it. Then puts it back, only buying the single paperback romance novel. (myfavouritebooks)
This is teaching materials for a short story that would be considered untraditional. The assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels.
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the story and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of a scene, character or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the story. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
The materials provided
1 Short Story worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
Link to the story (not my PDF):
NOTE: I have decided to include the Word Documents that the PDFs are created from so that if you would like to customize the unit for your classroom you can. However, I have used formatting and custom fonts that are not standard with many versions of Microsoft office. This may mean that opening them with a different version of office or without the same fonts installed will throw the formatting off. If so it may take some work to adapt them in your class. I am including them as an extra and would ask that I am not rated on the usability of the Word Docs. Since they are not the finished product, but an extra.