Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Written by:R.L. LaFevers

Illustrated by:Yoko Tanaka

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. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!


A combination of Nancy Drew and Indiana Jones, Theo Throckmorton is in big trouble. The 11-year-old lives in London in 1906 and spends most of her time in an antiquities museum headed by her father and filled with objects from her mother's archaeological expeditions to Egypt. Bossy, clever, and learned in the lore of ancient Egypt, the girl constantly worries that the work-obsessed parents who ignore and neglect her will be destroyed by virulent ancient curses that only she can detect. When her mother returns from her latest trip with an amulet inscribed with curses so powerful they could unleash the Serpents of Chaos and destroy the British Empire, Theo finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and danger. It pits her, along with some unexpected allies, against German operatives trying to use the scarab as a weapon in their political and economic rivalry with England. Theo must draw on all her resources when she confronts her enemies alone, deep in an Egyptian tomb. There, she makes some surprising discoveries, both personal and archaeological. (Reading to Kids)

Pre-Reading Activities

K-W-L Chart

Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.

What I Know

In the "What I Know" section, let him/her think about what things s/he already knows about the subject matter, answering questions like, "Who is the main character? What genre does this story fall under (Mystery and Suspense)? What other stories have I read that fall under this category? Where and when is this story set? What do I know about this setting?"

What I Want to Know

Include questions like, "What are Serpents of Chaos? How will Theo remove the curse on the Heart of Egypt? Why is Theo able to see the curses and black magic on these objects and her parents can't?"


Maintain a Vocabulary Journal

Encourage your child to stop when s/he gets to an unfamiliar word. See if s/he can discover its meaning by using context clues like prefixes and suffixes as well as the words surrounding it. Help him/her by keeping a “Vocabulary Journal” nearby when reading so that your child can write down new words, that s/he has either already defined or wishes to look up in the dictionary.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe Theodosia's character. How is she similar to other girls her age? How is she different?
  2. When was this story set? Do you think it could have taken place in a different place or time? Pick a different location and time period, and think about how the story would be different or if it could work at all.
  3. How is Theo able to remove curses from the artifacts in the museum? What is different about the Heart of Egypt?
  4. What happens in the story while Theo and Henry are traveling through the Seven Dials? What does Theo learn from these events?
  5. What is the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers? How does Theo become an official member?
  6. In your own words, what does (insert vocabulary word from vocabulary journal) mean?
  7. What questions did you have while you were reading the story? Were your questions answered by the end of the story? If not, what do you think the answers might be?

Extending the Story

Interested in learning how to write your own name in hieroglyphs? PBS has some really interesting information about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and has provided a closely related set of signs that are similar to the English sounds we use today. Try it out and write your name using the letters provided! If you are feeling really creative, try writing out sentences, and be sure to read the full description to learn more about hieroglyphic text.