The Secret Shortcut

Last updated Monday, February 4, 2019

Author: Mark Teague
Date of Publication: 1999
ISBN: 0613229320
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2019

Synopsis: Wendell and Floyd have one more chance to make it to school on time. No matter how hard they try, they are always late! Wendell’s solution: Take the Secret Shortcut! What begins as a simple march along a hidden pathway, quickly devolves into a wild trek through the tropical jungle. Follow these two daring adventurers as they skirt crocodiles and quicksand, soar on vines through the trees, and slick through pools of mud, all on their mission to make it to school on time! Will they make it through the classroom door before the last bell rings??

Note to readers:
•  The rich illustrations make for a great picture walk through.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How can you tell if you're on time?
•  Why would you take a shortcut?


•  Capture – to take and hold
•  Ridiculous – foolish or silly
•  Preposterous – very foolish or silly
•  Absurd – extremely foolish or silly
•  Plague – a large number of harmful or annoying things
•  Meander – to have a lot of curves instead of going in a straight line
•  Quicksand – a mixture of sand and water into which heavy objects sink easily

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is the purpose of the school bell?
•  Can you tell us a story of a time when surprising events happened on your way to school?

Craft ideas:
•  Have the kids draw their own "Secret Shortcut." (ie- the School Bus becoming a School Sub to take them on an adventure!)
•  Check our January craft ideas on Pinterest!

*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!