Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 490
1. Write a paper in which you discuss the different forms of government or society depicted in the novel, including kingdom, hierarchy, democracy, empire, and emirate. How does each work to oppress or free the individual? Besides the six students, which lesser characters relate to each form and why?
2. Research and report on issues of tourism in national parks and public recreation areas. Do you think that the bad effects of tourism outweigh the good? Or do the good effects outweigh the bad? What message about tourism does Jones convey?
3. Jones typically explores the use and misuse of power through magic. Wermacht warns: "Magic without definite aim is dangerous." Corkoran says: "You have to use magic like a tool, for a certain set of things, and you have to operate within certain safe limits, even then, or you're in trouble." If magic in the novel represents power, are the wizards right? Explain in a paper, and be sure to include what the students say in essays graded by Corkoran.
4. J. K. Rowling also depicts a magical school of wizardry in her Harry Potter series of novels. Read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and compare it to Year of the Griffin. Are relationships among students the same in both novels? Do you find similarities or differences in themes, characters, and use of magic? Report your findings.
5. Jones bases a number of characters in the novel on myth and folklore. These include griffins like Elda, dwarfs like Ruskin, Derk's winged horse Filbert, Isodel's dragon Endymion, a janitor who is a werewolf. Research and write about the origins of these creatures of fantasy. Compare and contrast how Jones uses them compared to the way they are described in reference sources.
6. Jones is known for taking a humorous approach to serious themes. Do you agree or disagree that there are humorous elements in this novel? Explain in a paper and supply examples to support your argument. Be sure to comment about the exchange between Corkoran, the important dwarfs, and the senators.
7. Research the atmosphere of outer space and of Mars. Is there any scientific truth to Jones's depiction of conditions experienced by the characters on their jinxed moonshot? Report your findings.
8. A number of characters in the novel take different approaches to teaching and learning. One of the characters is Derk. Write a paper in which you review these approaches and express your opinion about which is best.
9. Research the history of actual moon walks, including names of the first astronauts to step on the moon and the date they did so. Briefly list subsequent efforts at moon travel and include a summary of what happened on Apollo 13.
10. Read Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones, which introduces the family of Elda and Wizard Derk. Does the novel help to explain its sequel, Year of the Griffin? Why or why not? Should it be read first so readers can better understand the sequel?
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