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1 Burnside Children's- Newbery Award Winners

The House of the Scorpion

by

The House of the Scorpion Cover

 

Awards

2003 Newbery Medal Honor Book
2003 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book
2002 National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

Staff Pick

From the author of The House of the Scorpion comes a thrilling adventure-quest involving Vikings, a mother Dragon, giant spiders, and a shape-shifting half-troll named Ivar the Boneless.
Recommended by Rico, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups

The House of the Scorpion

By Nancy Farmer

ABOUT THE BOOK

Matt is a clone of El Patron, a powerful drug lord of the land of Opium, which is located between the United States and Mexico. For six years, he has lived in a tiny cottage in the poppy fields with Celia, a kind and deeply religious servant woman who is charged with his care and safety. He knows little about his existence until he is discovered by a group of children playing in the fields and wonders why he isn't like them. Though Matt has been spared the fate of most clones, who have their intelligence destroyed at birth, the evil inhabitants of El Patron's empire consider him a beast and an eejit. When El Patron dies at the age of 146, fourteen-year-old Matt escapes Opium with the help of Celia and Tam Lin, his devoted bodyguard who wants to right his own wrongs. After a near misadventure in his escape, Matt makes his way back home and begins to rid the country of its evils.

Prereading activity

Ask students to write down their definition of science fiction. Then have them discuss the meaning of cloning. Have them debate whether a novel about cloning is by their definition considered science fiction.

Discussion questions

  • Matteo Alacran is the clone of El Patron, the lord of the country called Opium, and lives in isolation until children playing in the poppy fields discover him. Why is he so eager to talk to the children, after he is warned against it? Why is Maria especially attracted to Matt?

  • Describe Matt's relationship with Celia. Why is she the servant chosen to care for Matt? Celia snaps at Matt when he calls her mama. Then she says to him, I love you more than anything in the world. Never forget that. But you were only loaned to me, mi vida. Why doesn't she explain the term loaned to Matt? Celia really believes that she is protecting Matt by keeping him locked in her cottage and ignorant about his identity. Debate whether this type of protection is indeed dangerous for him. How does Celia continue to protect Matt throughout his life on the Alacran Estate?

  • After the children discover Matt, he is taken from Celia and imprisoned in a stall for six months with only straw for a bed. How might prison be considered a metaphor for his entire life? Who is the warden of his prison? Discuss the role of Maria, Celia, and Tam Lin in helping him escape his prison.

  • Rosa describes El Patron as a bandit. How has El Patron stolen the lives of all those living on his estate? Which characters are his partners in evil? Debate whether they support him for the sake of their own survival. Explain what Tam Lin is trying to tell Matt when he says, If you are kind and decent, you grow into a kind and decent man. If you're like El Patron...just think about it. Considering that Matt is the clone of El Patron, debate whether environment influences evil more than genetics.

  • El Patron celebrates his 143rd birthday with a large party. Though Matt was harvested, and doesn't really have a birthday, the celebration is for him as well, since he is El Patron's clone. How does Matt imitate El Patron's power when he demands a birthday kiss from Maria? Discuss how El Patron encourages Matt's uncharacteristic behavior. Why is Maria so humiliated by Matt's demand? How does Matt feel the crowd's disapproval?

  • El Viejo, El Patron's grandson and the father of Mr. Alacran, is a senile old man because he refused the fetal brain implants based on religious and moral grounds. Debate his position. Why does El Patron consider Mr. Alacran rude when he mentions El Viejo's religious beliefs? Celia is also a deeply religious person. How is this demonstrated throughout the novel?

  • At what point does Matt realize that Tom is dangerous? He remembers what Tam Lin had told him, If you didn't know Tom well, you'd think he is an angel bringing you the keys to the pearly gates. How does Tom mislead Maria? Discuss why Tom takes Matt and Maria to see the screaming clones. How is this a turning point for Matt and Maria's friendship? Why does Celia feel that Matt deserves the truth once he has seen the clones?

  • What gives Celia the courage to stand up to El Patron and refuse to let Matt be used for a heart transplant? What does El Patron mean when he says to Celia, We make a fine pair of scorpions, don't we? Explain why she is insulted by this comment.

  • How does Tam Lin know that Matt's future lies in finding the Convent of Santa Clara? Describe Matt's journey to the convent. What does he discover along the way? Discuss Esperanza's role in helping Matt gain his ultimate freedom — to live as a human.

    Activities

  • Discuss the structure of the novel. How does it resemble acts and scenes in a play? Why does the author include the Cast of Characters at the beginning of the novel? Divide the class into five groups, and assign each group a section to write as a one-act play. Take dialogue directly from the book, and use a narrator to relate the story between speakers. Matt finds order in the music of Mozart. Locate music by Mozart to use at the beginning and end of each act.

  • Have students design a family crest for El Patron's empire. Discuss why this crest may repulse Matt. Create an alternative crest for the Alacran family after Matt transforms the empire.

  • Read about Cinco de Mayo and draw a parallel between the history of this Mexican holiday and Matt's victory for rights and justice at the end of the novel. Plan a Cinco de Mayo celebration that Matt might have after he breaks down the empire of Opium. Include appropriate food and music.

  • Maria refers to Saint Francis throughout the novel. As a class, create a picture book about Saint Francis that Maria might give to Matt. Write an appropriate dedication to Matt. How might the story of Saint Francis offer hope to Matt?

  • Dolly, the first mam

  • Synopsis:

    This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.

    Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

    As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

    Synopsis:

    This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.

    Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

    As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

    About the Author

    Nancy Farmer has written three Newbery Honor books: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm; A Girl Named Disaster; and The House of the Scorpion, which, in 2002, also won the National Book Award and the Printz Honor. Other books include The Lord of Opium, The Sea of Trolls, The Land of the Silver Apples, The Islands of the Blessed, Do You Know Me, The Warm Place, and three picture books for young children. She grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border and now lives with her family in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona.

    Table of Contents

    Contents

    YOUTH: 0 TO 6

    1. In the Beginning

    2. The Little House in the Poppy Fields

    3. Property of the Alacrán Estate

    4. María

    5. Prison

    MIDDLE AGE: 7 TO 11

    6. El Patrón

    7. Teacher

    8. The Eejit in the Dry Field

    9. The Secret Passage

    10. A Cat with Nine Lives

    11. The Giving and Taking of Gifts

    12. The Thing on the Bed

    13. The Lotus Pond

    14. Celia's Story

    OLD AGE: 12 TO 14

    15. A Starved Bird

    16. Brother Wolf

    17. The Eejit Pens

    18. The Dragon Hoard

    19. Coming-of-Age

    20. Esperanza

    21. Blood Wedding

    22. Betrayal

    AGE 14

    23. Death

    24. A Final Good-bye

    25. The Farm Patrol

    LA VIDA NUEVA

    26. The Lost Boys

    27. A Five-legged Horse

    28. The Plankton Factory

    29. Washing a Dusty Mind

    30. When the Whales Lost Their Legs

    31. Ton-Ton

    32. Found Out

    33. The Boneyard

    34. The Shrimp Harvester

    35. El Día de los Muertos

    36. The Castle on the Hill

    37. Homecoming

    38. The House of Eternity

    Product Details

    ISBN:
    9780689852220
    Author:
    Farmer, Nancy
    Publisher:
    Atheneum Books
    Author:
    Gordon, Russell
    Author:
    Karp, Jesse
    Location:
    New York
    Subject:
    General
    Subject:
    Action & Adventure
    Subject:
    Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
    Subject:
    Science fiction
    Subject:
    Drama
    Subject:
    Science & Technology
    Subject:
    Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Science Fiction
    Subject:
    Cloning
    Subject:
    Juvenile materials
    Subject:
    Fantasy & Magic
    Subject:
    Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
    Copyright:
    Edition Number:
    1st ed.
    Edition Description:
    Hardback
    Series Volume:
    107-56
    Publication Date:
    September 2002
    Binding:
    HARDCOVER
    Grade Level:
    from 7
    Language:
    English
    Pages:
    400
    Dimensions:
    9 x 6 in 19.53 oz
    Age Level:
    13-17

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    Related Subjects

    » Children's » Awards » Michael L. Printz Award Winners
    » Children's » Awards » Newbery Award Winners
    » Children's » Middle Readers » General
    » Children's » Middle Readers » Newbery Award Winners
    » Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
    » Young Adult » Fiction » Newbery Award Winners

    The House of the Scorpion Used Hardcover
    0 stars - 0 reviews
    $6.95 In Stock
    Product details 400 pages Atheneum Books - English 9780689852220 Reviews:
    "Staff Pick" by ,

    From the author of The House of the Scorpion comes a thrilling adventure-quest involving Vikings, a mother Dragon, giant spiders, and a shape-shifting half-troll named Ivar the Boneless.

    "Synopsis" by , This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.

    Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

    As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

    "Synopsis" by , This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.

    Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

    As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

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