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Discussion Module

Airborn
by
Kenneth Oppel

Publishing Information: Eos: New York, 2004
ISBN: 0060531800/0060531827(PB)/0060531819(Library Binding)/078627057 (Large Print)
Pages
: 355 p.
Ages: 12 & Up

Summary:
Matt Cruse must help save his luxury airship, Aurora, from pirates, shipwreck, and mysterious flying creatures.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Aeronautics
Anthropology
Black Plague
Hydrium
Pirates
Sociology - Class Order
Typhoons
Zoology

Awards & Reviews:
ALA Notable Children's Books, 2005
Governor General's Literary Award, 2005
Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2005
School Library Journal Best Books, 2004
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2005
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2005

BookList, June 1, 2004, p. 1720
School Library Journal, July 2004, p.131

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Why did the ship, Aurora, have such a special place in Matt Cruse's heart?
  2. How did Otto Lunardi's boy and others like him take away from Matt's future?
  3. How is Kate like her father and grandfather?
  4. What details did the author give to show that Kate and Matt were in different social classes? What did Kate do that did not follow how she should behave in her social class?
  5. Compare the pirates who overtake the Aurora to pirates in other novels.
  6. How is Matt Cruse a courageous boy? How is he a gentleman?
  7. Humans often misunderstand and underestimate wild animals. What do Kate and Matt discover about the "Cloud Cats?"
  8. How can Szpirglas be such a loving father to his son and be a cold-blooded killer at the same time?
  9. Do you think the pirates have a good life? There are children living in the pirate settlement. Do you think this is a good environment for children?
  10. At the end of the book, Matt experiences a freedom as does the cloud cat. The cloud cat can now fly, and Matt feels comfortable with his feet on the ground. Why do you think these transformations occur?
  11. What are the steps to classifying a new species? (A project might be to make up a new species and go through the steps.)
  12. Air Ships: What makes them work? What is the difference between hydrogen and helium?
  13. What is the history of air ships? Why did they not become as popular as they seem to be in Matt's world?
  14. What was the Hindenberg? What were the politics of the gases that were being used to fuel airships at the time?
  15. There are several theories about why the Hindenberg blew up. What are those theories and which one do you think is the most credible?

Related Websites:
This site has been set up to be viewed in conjunction with the book - http://www.kennethoppel.ca/pages/airborn.shtml.

Read-a-Likes:
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Farber,
Ship's Boy
by L.A. Meyer, 2002 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
Dinotopia by James Gurney, 1992
Pirates!
by Celia Rees, 2003 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl's Adventure Upon the High Seas by Tanith Lee, 2004
Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883

Other Books by the Author:
Colins' Fantastic Video Adventure, 1985
Cosimo Cat, 1990
Dead Water Zone, 1993
Follow the Star, 1994
Silverwing, 1997
Emma's Emu, 1999
A Bad Case of Ghosts, 2000
Peg and the Whale, 2000
A Strange Case of Magic, 2000
Sunwing, 2000
A Crazy Case of Robots, 2001
The Devi's Cure, 2001
An Incredible Case of Dinosaurs, 2001
The Live-Forever Machine, 2001
A Creepy Case of Vampires, 2002
A Wierd Case of Super-Goo, 2002
Firewing, 2003
Peg and the Yeti, 2004

About the Author:
Kenneth Oppel was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, Canada. At around twelve years old, he decided he wanted to be writer. At fourteen in wrote a long humorous story about a boy addicted to video games. He revised it and a family friend who knew Roald Dahl offered to show Dahl the story. Kenneth never heard from Dahl himself, but he did read it and liked it enough that he passed it to his literary agent. This story, Colin's Fantastic Video Adventure, was published in 1985 in Britain and the United States. He received his B.A. from the University of Toronto with a double major in cinema studies and English. While at the university, he wrote his second novel, The Live-Forever Machine, in his senior year for a creative writing course. A year after graduation he married his wife, Philippa Sheppard, and spent the next three years living in Oxford doing his doctoral studies on Shakespeare. He now lives in Toronto with his wife and their two children. Airborn is his twentieth novel.

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