The Time Warp Trio: Viking It and Liking It

by Jon Scieszka

Discussion and Activities

For pre-reading ideas and background information on modern fantasy and its conventions, see Around the World in 80 Books: A Multicultural Guide.

The Vikings were excellent craftsmen, sailors, and shipbuilders. The longship that Joe, Sam, and Fred boarded was sleek and supple, powered by sails and oars and built with overlapping planks to sail into narrow inlets and shallow waters. Because their figureheads were carved to look like snakes or dragons, people who saw these ships at sea were often frightened of the "monster" on the waters. Using Internet or library resources, have students search for information and photos of these ships, sometimes known as "Sea Serpents." Then, have students design their own Viking ship mastheads.

Joe and the boys find themselves in danger of losing their heads in a Viking execution. When there was a crime or a grievance, the Vikings settled their problems in an open-air meeting called a "Thing." The Jarls (warriors and aristocrats) and the Karls (peasant traders, craftsmen, farmers, or crewmen) attended and discussed the matter at hand to decide the punishment. Since the Vikings did not employ a prison system, punishment was doled out to fit the crime. When a decision was reached, the Jarls and the Karls clashed their swords in agreement. Using Internet or library resources, have students research what types of crimes warranted particular punishments in this Viking system of justice. Students may then role-play the deliberations at a "Thing," discussing and deciding punishment for crimes committed.

Sprinkled throughout this adventure are a number of Viking terms, which are contextually explained. Review these terms with students, to assist them in remembering what they mean. Conclude the students' visit to the Viking world by listening to Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries.


Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.

The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.

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