The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon

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Individually or in groups, create a superhero and write a story featuring him or her. Include a weakness along with a superpower, a villain, a secret identity, and sidekick or other supporters. For extra credit, illustrate your tale.

Science has traditionally been important to superheroes and their villains, either as a source of superpower or inventions to aid in fighting or causing crime. What area of science interests you? For example, biology, nuclear physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, etc. Dream up an invention or application of technology within your field of interest that would be an aid to a superhero or villain. Create an illustrated poster demonstrating your idea.

Research a heroic figure from legend or history. Does this figure fit any of the superhero criteria such as a secret identity, superpowers, and an idealistic mission? Write a brief report to share with your classmates.

One of Rosa’s artistic expressions is a dreambook. In her dreambook, Rosa uses collage, illustration, and text to tell the stories she experiences when she is dreaming. Find or make a blank journal and create your own dreambook based on a dream you have had.

The Holocaust took a terrible toll of loss and displacement on the groups targeted by the Nazis. Unfortunately, genocide still happens to this day. Research an incident of genocide that has happened in the recent past, examining why it was carried out and what can be done to stop future genocides.

Letter writing was an important form of communication before widespread use of email in the 1990s. Write a letter by hand (not computer) to a friend or family member whom you do not see often. Tell the person what is new in your life and any interesting stories that have happened to you. Enclose relevant photographs, drawings, or article clippings. After your teacher has checked that you have completed the assignment, mail your letter.

Joe spends most of a year stationed on Antarctica, monitoring radio waves for the U.S. Navy. Research current political and scientific activity relating to this unusual continent. Also look up information about Antarctica’s climate and geography. Which countries have laid claim to portions of Antarctica? What scientific studies are being conducted there and why? Are there parts of Antarctica that have yet to be explored? How does the size of the land mass today compare to one hundred years ago? Write an essay about the current importance of Antarctica.

Under Judaic law, a boy reaches maturity when he turns thirteen and is made a bar mitzvah (“son of the commandment”). Girls are made bat mitzvahs (“daughters of the commandment”) at twelve years of age. They are then responsible for following and upholding Jewish traditions, which is expressly a religious aspect of Judaism. Secular or ethnic Jews do not always choose to become a bar or bat mitzvah. What other rites of passage do you know? What time of life do they typically occur? Are they cultural, religious, or related to some other aspect of life? What are the components of the ritual? What are the conferred rewards and responsibilities? Prepare a presentation for your class using PowerPoint, slides, overheads, or other visual aids.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and Joe’s childhood home. What foods are particular to the Czech people? Research authentic Czech recipes, assemble a cookbook to distribute to each student in the class, have everyone select a different recipe to prepare, and then host a Czech food day. What are your favorite dishes? What flavors are unusual to you? Is there anything you would like to make again? Share your answers with your classmates as you enjoy this new cuisine.

The Empire State Building has captured people’s imaginations since it was built in 1931. What are some examples of the Empire State Building being used in a creative work such as a novel, poem, movie, painting, photography, or song? How has the artist interpreted this structure? Let inspiration strike and create something new that involves the Empire State Building in some way. As a class, put on an exhibition and share your work with the rest of your school, friends, and family.

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