Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blizzard of the Blue Moon

Blizzard of the Blue Moon
by Mary Pope Osborne
illustrated by Sal Murdocca

About the book:
Jack and Annie must prove once again to the greatest wizard Merlin that they can use magic wisely. This time they must travel again to a real time and a real place in history. They must use the poem that Merlin gives them and unravel the meaning to complete the quest. Somehow, they must find a unicorn in New York City in 1938 and free him from the spell he is under. Will they be able to navigate the city during a blizzard? Will they find the unicorn in time to free him before the blue moon?

Pre-Reading Activities:

Discuss with your students: How do you know if a book is a fantasy or if it is realistic fiction? What clues does the author give? Do you read these two kinds of books differently? How? How do you know if something is real or imaginary?

Give each student a plain piece of copy paper. Have them draw a picture of New York City with pencil or markers. On the back have children list everything they know about the city around their drawing. Prompt them, if necessary, with subjects like transportation, parks, people and jobs.

Discussion Guide:

  1. What must Annie and Jack understand to be able to find the unicorn? How do they figure out its meaning? Is poetry always difficult to understand?
  2. Why does the weather play an important part in this story? How would the story be different if it was set in the summer? How does it add to the conflict?
  3. Who comes to the aide of Jack and Annie? How do they steer our young explorers in the right direction? Would you want to travel into the past in New York with just your sibling? Why or why not?
  4. A nemesis is someone who works against your goal. Who is the nemesis to Jack and Annie’s goal of finding the Flower of Rome? What do they do? Who ultimately wins? Why?
  5. How are Jack and Annie rewarded by Merlin? Why do you think he is testing them in such difficult ways? Do you think they have proven themselves to be wise in their use of magic? How?

Steps to the Unicorn

Sequencing Important Events:
Each step that Jack and Annie make leads them closer to the unicorn. Can you put these events from the story in the sequence that they appear in the novel? Scan the book to check your answers before turning your paper in.

_____ Take the IRT train toward Bronx Zoo

_____ Teddy & Kathleen lead Dianthus to Camelot

_____ Find the unicorn and help free him

_____ Become lost in central park

_____ Merlin gives the Wand of Dianthus to the children

_____ Ride in a taxi

_____Find Belvedere Castle and learn about the weather

_____Ride a unicorn

_____Enter the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum

_____ Recognize Teddy and Kathleen


Answers: 4, 9 ,7 , 2, 1, 5, 3, 7, 6, 8
Moon Study

Jack and Annie must make sure that they find the unicorn before the blue moon. But first they must know the phases of the moon. Using the definitions provided, match the moon phase to its definition. Then, draw a picture to match and help you remember.

NEW MOON                                     FULL MOON
FIRST QUARTER                             THIRD QUARTER
WAXING GIBBOUS                                    WANING CRESCENT

Because the sunlit side of the moon faces away from the sun, the new moon is invisible to us on earth.


As the moon travels along its orbit it appears as a crescent shape on the right hand side (in the Northern Hemisphere). As the moon reveals her face before the full moon, it is called “waxing.”


Now that the moon has completed the first quarter of its orbit it will appear as a half-circle.


 More than half of the sunlit side shows it is called gibbous. This is the last step before a full moon.


Halfway through its orbit, the entire sunlit side now shows to earth and appears as a complete circle.


Now the sunlit side of the moon turns its face away from the earth. Now the moon is “waning” toward the new moon.


The moon appears as a backward capital “D” now that it has reached the third quarter of its orbit.


Now just a slice, or crescent appears on the left side as we prepare for the moon cycle to begin again.



New Moon, Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, 3rd quarter, Waning Crescent

A Haiku Blizzard:

Jack and Annie experience New York City during a harsh blizzard. Write haiku about what they see during their visit. Then, cut out the snowflake (or trace onto wax paper first for a snowy effect), copy your best haiku inside the shape and decorate the classroom with your work. To transform the classroom environment, have students create a collage of buildings using a wide variety of papers (newsprint, construction paper, even wrapping paper) that run an entire length of a wall (or hallway). Then, add the haiku snowflakes on top of the mural.

A traditional three-line Japanese poem which consists of counted syllables: five for the first line, seven for the second, and five again for the third. Often gives a hint to the season or reflects on nature.


Fill out the following chart as you read BLIZZARD OF THE BLUE MOON.


THEN (1938)
NOW (20__)



Jobs and opportunity


Create a brochure with facts about New York City. You may use the ones that Jack reads aloud in the novel but you must also research at least five new facts as well. You can create a pamphlet on any of these topics from the book:  Museums, History of New York City, Parks, City Transportation, or The Rockefellers. Be sure to illustrate your work!