Written by: Suzanne Collins
For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. The plot summary is meant to give you a general understanding of the storyline, allowing you to have more meaningful discussion with your child. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Gregor the Overlander and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!
Gregor has no idea what's in store for him when he falls down a grate in his apartment complex's laundry room, trying to rescue his little sister, Boots. What they find is a whole world that exists under New York City called the Underland. When Gregor encounters the citizens of this strange land, he discovers that the giant rats, also known as gnawers, that also inhabit Underland intend to wage war against the Underlanders. He soon realizes that he has a personal stake in this war, as his father, who has been missing for 2 years, has actually been held captive by the gnawers this whole time. Gregor also learns of a mysterious prophecy that the Underlanders believe points to him as the great warrior who has come to save them. He realizes that he must stay in Underland to rescue his father and save the Underlanders from a horrible fate. After assembling an army and going to war, Gregor and the Underlanders defeat the gnawers and Gregor is able to return home with his father.
Create a K-W-L Chart on your own and have your child fill in the first two columns. S/he can complete the last column after reading the story.
"What I Know"
Have your child think about other fantasy stories s/he has read and what similarities exist between them. Also have him/her consider Suzanne Collins' other books and whether or not your child thinks this story will be similar to those other works. Let him/her also think about what s/he knows from the cover, the title and the description on the back of the book.
"What I Want To Know"
Have him/her write about what s/he wants to learn about the story like who Gregor is, what the Underland is like, and how he saves the Underlanders.
1. How would you describe Gregor's life before he beings his journey in the Underland? How did his father's disappearance effect his family?
2. How do Gregor and Boots react to landing in the Underland? How do you think you would have reacted? Do you think you would attempt to escape or stay and look around? Why?
3. Describe the Underland. How have the Underlanders adapted to their new environment to help them survive?
4. There is a line in the story that says, "Mutual need is a strong bond. Stronger than friendship, stronger than love." Who said this line? What do you think he means by this? Do you agree with this statement? Have you ever experienced this in your own life?
5. When does Gregor decide to stay and fight with the Underlanders? What does he think about the prophecy? Does he think of himself as a warrior?
6.Gregor the Overlander is the first in a series of books about Gregor's adventures. Given how this story ends, what do you think will happen in the next installment? Read the short excerpt from the second book provided in the back of this book and see if your predictions align with the beginning of the story.
7. Looking for a fun activity that relates to this story? Try playing the Boot's Decoder Game included in the back of the book. All you need is a dictionary and a sense of humor!
Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!