About this Unit & Novel
This is an editable, Common Core-aligned literature study unit for use with the novel The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, and the 2006 film of the same name directed by Richard Claus. The activities here are designed for a variety of age groups and disciplines. Curricular areas covered include literacy development, vocabulary building, literary analysis, creative writing, argument building/persuasive writing, math and science. Prompts appear in order of complexity and simplified language appears in parentheses. Pick and choose which unit elements and prompts will work best for your own class.
NOTE: This unit does NOT include an answer key. Though some questions here are designed to assess comprehension, the overall objective is to promote discussion, critical inquiry and the development of writing and argument-building skills. Many prompts here are open-ended so a variety of responses will be "correct," depending on how well-supported they are. If you are looking for a unit with multiple choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions you can quickly match against an answer key, this is not the right unit for you.
Synopsis: On the run from an uncaring aunt and uncle, newly-orphaned brothers Prosper and Bo flee to Venice, where they move into an abandoned movie theater with a group of children led by a boy who calls himself the Thief Lord. When he is hired to steal a mysterious object, he enlists his gang to pull off the heist and the kids stumble upon a source of potent magic that plays tricks with time.
Unit Components & Features
LITERATURE RESPONSE QUESTIONS
A set of 8-12 prompts for each chapter of the novel. The questions are grouped for differentiated instruction into Comprehending, Analyzing, and Connecting sections. The questions that involve analysis ask students to think critically and to support their conclusions with textual evidence. The Connecting questions ask students to draw connections between the book and their own lives. Several of the questions can also be used as prompts for longer writing assignments. This novel raises some tough and complicated questions about family and adult responsibility, and explores some of the ethical dilemmas that poverty and homelessness can often trigger (i.e., Are lying and stealing ever the “right” things to do?) The lit response prompts in this unit ask students to articulate their thoughts on these issues and write about personal experience. There are some questions geared toward English Language learners that ask students to decode idioms with which native English speakers will probably be familiar. A few questions about currency exchange involve math.
SEVERAL SHORT MENTOR TEXT EXERCISES
These are designed for use in a writing workshop. Each exercise asks students to read as writers—to pay close attention to elements of craft—and apply the mentor author’s writing techniques to their own works in progress. Exercises include graphic organizers, word banks and links to student writing samples that model approaches to applying the mentor author techniques under consideration. Though the instructions in the Mentor Text exercises are addressed to students, most will need some teacher guidance around the terms and concepts mentioned.
2 IN-DEPTH MENTOR TEXT MINI-UNITS
The Poetry of Place: Searching for Setting in the World Around You
Writing Genre Fiction: Horror, Dystopia, Science-fiction, Fantasy & Magical Realism
Designed to spark and scaffold new writing projects, each mini-unit is a detailed, 1-2 week-long lesson plan that includes introductions to each day’s reading, discussion and/or writing session; excerpts of the mentor texts under consideration; questions to guide discussions; prompts, graphic organizers and word banks to get students started writing pieces of their own; and resources to guide the revision process. Along with excerpts from The Thief Lord, both mini-units also include the work of several student authors that model the approaches under consideration.
2 SCIENCE EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
Both activities are also available as digital pathway lessons on Symbaloo (links at the top of each activity). One explores theories that explain homing pigeon navigation. The other, Venice is Sinking, is a look at human and natural causes behind the city’s slide into the ocean.
One for every 1-3 chapters. Rather than ask for definitions, instructions here ask students to use each vocabulary word in their own sentences because I’ve found that this exercise tells me a lot more about how much students understand the words than asking them for definitions does. Since the document is editable, however, you can easily change the directions to create assignments that meet your own objectives. To edit instructions for all quizzes at once go to Edit> Find and replace. Paste existing directions into the “Find” box then add your own directions to the “Replace” box.
VOCABULARY PRACTICE CROSSWORD PUZZLES
A VOCABULARY STUDY SHEET
Printable pages where all words are listed with easy to understand definitions and parts of speech (not dictionary definitions that can often be confusing). The words here are for use with English Language Learners, so if you are working with native English speakers, you’ll probably want to delete entries your students are already familiar with.
A SET OF THE THIEF LORD VOCABULARY FLASHCARDS
From link provided you can download a PDF copy of the flashcards, or let students use the “study session” feature on the website or the Flashcard Machine app for ipad or android devices. Directions for three flashcard games are included with the link.
FILM RESPONSE PROMPTS
For use with the 2006 film adaptation of the novel, directed by Richard Claus. These questions explore themes unique to the film version of the story and ask for a comparative analysis of the two works.
This is a Google document, so you can easily modify or delete anything here to fit your own class’s needs. Any updates will automatically load each time you click the link provided with purchase.