The Castle in the Mist Teachers and Kids Guide

The Castle in the Mist Cover


The Castle in the Mist

by Amy Ephron

Game and Reader’s Guide for Teachers & Kids

(things to think about and answer)

The Castle in the Mist Cover

  1. In the beginning of “The Castle in the Mist,” Tess and Max have a small fight over a Monopoly game.
    Instead of having a real fight, Tess goes outside to take a walk as they’ve promised their Mom they wouldn’t fight around Aunt Evie! What tricks do you use to stop a fight or not have a fight?

  2. Tess then walks up the hill above her Aunt’s house in Hampshire, England. She discovers, actually runs into, an invisible wall that has a visible but locked old-fashioned wooden gate. She then finds a skeleton key in the dirt, and now she has a dilemma -- is it right or wrong to use the key? If you find the key to somebody’s house is it okay to use it? Absolutely not.  But this is the key to a gate in an invisible wall… Before she can even decide, the key has a mind of its own… Do you think she’s taken a step back in time or just a step into a magical place?

  3. Have you ever had a dilemma?  If you think that somebody did something wrong, or maybe told you a lie, do you tell?  Does it depend on the circumstance?  Do you talk to your friend? An adult?  (Permission given to use made-up names for this answer!)

  4. Tess often looks things up.When William, the boy in the castle, tells her to beware of the hawthorn trees, she takes him quite seriously and at her first opportunity, she looks up Hawthorn Trees in a book her Aunt has about plants and trees and discovers that the berries of hawthorn trees are believed to heal broken hearts.  Do you look things up? How do you do research if you don’t understand something? What are your best google tips or how you use the library? Do you ever “ask an expert?”

  5. When things get tough, Tess and Max do a pinkie swear. A pinkie swear means they have each other’s backs. How do you let your friends, parents, teachers, or siblings know you have their back?!

  6. “Healing hearts” is also a theme of the book and a metaphor for the plot of the book, as Tess and Max’s adventures often end in Tess being able to “undo” a long-ago tragedy or heal a heartache. Is there a metaphor you like? Here’s an example of a simple metaphor I use in “The Other Side of the Wall”, the third book: “The snow was falling like petals all around them.” Snow doesn’t fall in petals, but the use of the word petals, is like flower petals dropping and calls up an image, in other words, a metaphor for the way the snow falls. Here’s an easy example: The playground was a zoo. Do you have a metaphor you like? Can you make one up?

  7. When Tess runs into an obstacle, she sometimes remembers things or advice that one of her parents has told her. For example: If you get lost, get back to where you started from if you can!  Have your parents or teacher or another grown-up ever given you advice about what to do if you run into trouble or have a problem you can’t easily solve? This can be advice about staying calm or cheering other people up, ways in which you can be a leader and help others along the way.

  8. When Tess gets frustrated, she sometimes talks herself down.  Sometimes she also gives herself a pep talk if she’s facing a hard (almost impossible) task. She has a conversation in her own head so that she can stay calm or rise up and help under difficult circumstances. Do you have any tricks you use when you get frustrated or need to accomplish something difficult?

  9. Max and Tess are very different. Max is much more analytical and scientific than Tess. Tess is a bit of a super hero, even though she doesn’t always know it! Tess operates often on instinct and emotion, at first. If you have a sibling, are you very different from each other? This can even be as simple as what you eat for breakfast or the kind of clothes you wear or the music you listen to. It also can be whether one of you is shy, not at all shy, funny, plays an instrument, loves sports, or reads comic books. If you don’t have a sibling, which category do you think you fit into, analytical or impulsive or somewhere in-between? Do you have someone you rely on who is the opposite?  

  10. A lot of magical things happen in “The Castle in the Mist” — although Tess isn’t always sure if it happened or if she imagined it…. Did she imagine dancing with the Pleiades or did it happen?  What do you think? Have you ever had anything happen to you that you think is magical or that you can’t explain?  

  11. “The Castle in the Mist” is considered part fantasy/part reality. (On purpose, there are no all-out battles, guns, or explosions in the series!). But there are dangers — when they go to the other side of the hawthorn trees and all they can see is the planets in our solar system, no stars, no expansive sky or view of the galaxy, just dark nothingness ahead. And the rocks start to turn into, morph into, creatures called morphons. They resemble made-up mythical creatures, a deer with the trunk of an elephant, a giraffe’s neck on the shell of a snail, which reach out and try to grab them and prevent Tess, Max, & William, and the magical horse named Midnight from escaping and riding back through the hawthorn hedge. Meanwhile back on the other side of the wall the castle starts to disappear. It’s almost as if there is a time clock and if they don’t get back in time, the castle might not be there.  If you were writing a fantasy book, what would your fantasy world look like?  Would there be creatures in it?  Would there be music?  Would there be stars in the sky?  Would there be a sky?  Would there be danger?   Would creatures communicate with each other?  What would they eat?  Would there be plants and flowers? What would they look like?  Would everyone get along? 

  12. If you had one wish, what would it be? Don’t tell.  This is your silent question! I repeat, do not tell!!    (And the wish cannot be that you get all the wishes in the world.) Only one wish. For now, anyway. 


Amy Ephron

Copyright   © Amy Ephron
Permission to use granted.