4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Nightbooks by J.A. White with DIY Eyeball Eggs!
Nightbooks by J.A. White is a slightly spooky mystery about witches, friendship and self acceptance. Alex loves all things creepy and spooky. So much so, that is room is filled with zombie posters and LEGO haunted houses. But this also makes him the "weird kid," especially since he makes up and writes his own scary stories. Even though he is drawn to all this nightmarish stuff, he never thought any of it was real. That is, until he is trapped by a witch and forced to tell her one scary story each night in order to stay alive! Now Alex, along with a standoffish girl and a moody cat, must find a way to keep the witch happy all while figuring out how to escape and apartment with no exits.
What is this book about? What are the main themes?
Alex leaves his safe apartment in the middle of the night to destroy his Nightbooks. The answer to why he wants to do this, isn’t revealed until the end of the book. Did you have any predictions before we found out the real reason? What was the real reason?
The witch’s apartment is spelled to lead children to see, hear, and smell their favorite things in order to trick them inside. What would the apartment use to lure you in?
The witch’s apartment has many magical rooms. What magical room would you have? What other magical rooms would you expect Natacha to have?
Alex’s job is to tell Natacha a new scary story every night. What do you think of the stories he tells and why isn’t Natacha always pleased by them, even though the house is?
Alex is insecure around Yasmin. Why? How does he overcome this?
Lenore is a witch’s familiar. What is this and why does Lenore “switch sides?”
This book is loosely based on some classic fairytales/horror stories. What are they and how does the author reimagine them in Nightbooks?
There are so many quotes out there about the “power of stories.” Let’s talk about this and how Alex uses this power to defeat the witches.
By the end of the novel, Alex has learned a lot about himself and who he is. How does Alex think about himself by the end of the novel?
STEM Activity: Bouncy Eyeballs Supplies:
Mason Jars (other wide mouth jars or plastic cups work too)
Food Coloring (orange and black for Halloween!)
Large plates or bowls
An easy to clean area (including the floor) in case of breakage
Carefully, put the egg in a glass cup and pour vinegar over the egg until it is covered. It's OK if the egg floats.
Add a little food coloring to the vinegar and stir carefully. Bubbles will form on the shell as the chemical reaction starts.
Let it sit for 24 hours.
After about 24 hours the foam will be on top of your vinegar, while the remaining liquid is mostly clear. You can then drain off the liquid and replace with fresh vinegar. Add more food coloring if you want to.
After the second 24 hours, pull your egg out gently and rinse it under water. Let it dry for a few minutes before playing. The result will be eggs with no shells that are squishy and bouncy.
The bubbles that form when the egg is in vinegar are carbon dioxide bubbles reacting to the calcium in the egg shell. We also get the magic of osmosis which colors our eggs
"Osmosis is the movement of water from a less concentrated solution to a more concentrated solution through a semipermeable membrane that tends to equalize the concentrations of the solute on the two sides of the membrane."
Here, the vinegar reacts with the shell and leaves the membrane of the egg intact. This membrane allows water to pass through it.
"The water left over from our chemical reaction travels through the membrane bringing some of the food coloring with it. This results in the egg “growing” (getting a bit bigger) and changing color."
How'd it go:
Super small crowd to start with but once we did the experiment, neighbors and siblings joined in virtually, so that was fun. I also, only had one of the kids actually read/finish the book this time, so we ended up talking open endedly about what type of magic rooms we would have, what type of familiars we would want, etc.
That's all for now!