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Last updated Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0618253963
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2006

Synopsis: (from the publisher) On the last page of the Caldecott-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running after his brother, Walter, with a game tucked under his arm. Now after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and Walter roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and the battling Budwing boys are in for the ride of their lives. The first book in seven years by Chris Van Allsburg, Zathura is a dramatic adventure that promises a breathtaking and unforgettable experience. At the story's end which becomes, miraculously, the beginning, we find that Walter's feelings for his little brother are greatly altered. Only the mind and hand of Chris Van Allsburg could create this fantastic world where shifts in time and space and perspective take the reader on such an extraordinary journey.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever read the book Jumanji or seen the movie? What is it about? What happens in it? (If necessary, briefly discuss Jumanji, in which a board game about the jungle comes to life.
•  What board games do you like to play?
•  Do you have siblings? What do you do with them? Do you ever argue or fight? Do you play games?
•  What kinds of space stories do you know about?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Some vocabulary words to discuss: meteor, gravity, gyroscope, alien
•  How do the boys feel about each other at the start of the book? How do they get along?
•  How do the boys? feelings toward each other change during the game?
•  How do they finally get out of trouble?
•  What is a black hole? (a very heavy dense object in space?a collapsed star?with such strong gravitational pull that even light can?t escape)
•  Fun facts: If you weigh 70 lbs. on earth, you would only weigh 27 lbs. on Mercury or Mars. On Jupiter you would weigh 185.

Craft ideas:
•  Bring ahead option: brass fasteners. Cut out a robot or a space creature and put it together with brass fasteners.
•  Draw a picture of space or a map of the solar system. [Planets in order from the Sun are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto]

Special activities:
•  Walk around as if gravity were suddenly much less. Then walk around as if there were suddenly much more gravity.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!