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The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions TRACEY HECHT

with illustrations by

A Flabbergastifying
Under the Stars!

ISBN: 978-1-944020-002 • $15.99


In The Mysterious Abductions, the first novel in the The Nocturnals series offers adventure and mystery
series, Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin as three animals of the night fight to survive when
and Bismark, the loud mouthed, pint sized sugar other creatures threaten them.
glider are nocturnal friends that form a brigade to For more information:
protect themselves from a blood-thirsty snake. Then
animals begin disappearing without a trace and the
brigade realizes that their night realm is threatened.
Together with the help of a wombat, a band of

coyotes and many other nocturnal animals, Dawn,

Tobin and Bismark journey to the depths of the Common Core State Standards addressed by the discussion
questions and activities in this guide are noted throughout. For
earth in a wacky, high stakes game that determines more information on the Common Core, visit
their survival.

I. PRE-READING ACTIVITY Explain how Tobin, Bismark and Dawn fend off the
Discuss the purpose of a
prologue. Read aloud the What does Bismark mean when he says the brigade
Prologue to the novel. has “instinct?” Trace how they use instinct to solve
Who are the three main the mystery of the missing animals.
characters? What do they
Fear is an underlying theme in the book. How do
have in common? How are they
the members of the brigade reveal and deal with
different? The Prologue suggests
fear? Explain how they try to calm the fears of the
that an adventure is about to begin. Have students
animals they are helping.
think about possible conflicts, and write a one-page
paper that imagines the adventure for the Nocturnal Trust is another underlying theme. Why doesn’t
Brigade. Dawn trust Jerry, the jerboa? Explain Bismark’s
demand that Jerry prove his innocence. How do the
Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards in
Reading Literature: Key Ideas & Details RL. 3-5.1; Writing:
animals continue to distrust Jerry as the adventure
Text Types & Purposes W. 3-5.3. moves forward? Explain how he eventually earns
their trust and helps them.

II. CLASSROOM DISCUSSION Bismark is determined to distinguish himself from

the bats. Why is that important to him? How does
These discussion questions ask students to think
the story reveal the distinct differences between
critically about plot, character and theme to ensure
sugar gliders and bats?
an understanding of how these elements combine to
form a work of literature. Bismark questions whether the brigade and the
other animals they collect are in danger. Tobin says
Tobin, Bismark and Dawn form a brigade at the
that Dawn “has a plan to keep us safe” (p. 64). What
beginning of the book. What is the purpose of the
is Dawn’s plan?
brigade? How does a brigade require teamwork?
Discuss the personalities of the animals in the brigade. Cliffhanger is a plot device where each chapter ends
in suspense. What is the cliffhanger at the end of
Every brigade requires a leader. Which animal is the
each chapter? How does this suspense make readers
natural leader? Discuss whether the leader of the
want to continue reading?
brigade is an effective leader. Explain why Dawn
insists on meeting Ciro, the leader of the coyotes, How does the illustration at the beginning of each
alone. How does this show bravery and leadership? chapter introduce a new animal, and give a hint
about the substance of the chapter?
Nocturnal animals are active at night. How does the
night setting add to the suspense of the story? Explain the hockey sports analogy in the final
showdown. What is the purpose of the game?
What type of animal is Cora? What happened to her
Which animal serves as the puck? Discuss the
brother Joe? How does the brigade try to help her?
actions of the offense and defense. How does the
Identify other animals they are called upon to help
game add to the action and resolution of the story?
as the plot develops.

The book’s characters are eventually led into under- Personification: Gives human characteristics to
ground caves. How does this location help build the animals or objects
action in the story? Discuss why the author chooses Example: “He puffed out his chest with pride.”
to set such an important part of the plot in a cave. (p. 11)
Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards Instruct students to find other examples of simile,
in Reading Literature: Key Ideas & Details RL. 3-5.1, RL.
metaphor and personification in the novel. Then
3-5.3; Craft & Structure RL. 3-5.4, RL. 3-5.5, RL. 3-5.6;
Integration of Knowledge & Ideas RL. 3-5; Speaking & have them rewrite the sentence in literal language.
Listening: Comprehension & Collaboration SL. 3-5.1, How do these changes alter the mental images and
SL 3-5.3; Presentation of Knowledge & Ideas SL. 3-5.6; richness of language?
Language: Conventions of Standard English L. 3-5.1;
Knowledge of Language L. 3-5.3. Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards in
Language: Vocabulary Acquisition & Use L. 3-5.5.

III. CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS The two exercises below have a corresponding activ-
A successful mystery has many elements: motive, ity sheet to share with your students on page five.
clues, hunches, evidence, suspects, and witnesses. Bismark says to Tobin, “We can be bold in adven-
Ask students to outline each of these elements, and ture…we can be brave in challenge…we can be –”
identify key players in Nocturnals: The Mysterious Divide the class into small groups and ask them to
Abductions. Then have them write an opinion write and perform a rap about the Nocturnal Brigade
paper that draws a conclusion about why the book that reveals the characteristics expressed by Bismark.
belongs to the mystery genre. Encourage peer
editing for clarity, spelling and grammar. “The bleachers were boiling with anticipation and
excitement ” (p. 191). Divide students in groups and
Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards ask them to use information from the text and write
in Reading Literature: Key Ideas & Details RL. 3-5.1, RL.
a cheer for each side in the sporting event in the
4-5.3; Writing: Text Types & Purposes W. 3-5.1; Production
& Distribution of Writing W. 3-5.5
final show down.

Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards

The author uses various types of figurative language
in Writing: Text Types & Purposes W. 3-5.3; Research to
to create certain images, and add interest to the Build & Present Knowledge W. 4-5.9.
story. Review the following:
The novel is filled with lively dialogue, which makes
Simile: Compares one object or idea to
it perfect to be performed. Divide the class into
another, usually using “like” or “as.”
groups, and assign them several chapters to write as
Example: “Fuming and famished, the snake scenes in a play. Then combine the scenes into a full
reared its head, its yellow eyes blazing like play and have students perform it for another class.
flames.” (p. 14) Encourage them to make and
wear animal masks
Metaphor: Makes a direct comparison
to differentiate
Example: “The egg has cracked. Totally the various
scrambled.” (p. 92) characters.

Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards
in Writing: Text Types & Purposes W. 3-5.3; Language: IV. VOCABULARY/USE OF LANGUAGE
Conventions of Standard English L. 3-5.1; Knowledge of There may be unfamiliar words in the novel, and
Language L. 3-5.3. students should be encouraged to try to define these
words taking clues from context. Such words may
At the end of the book, Boris thinks “coachers”
took his family, but he really means “poachers.”
Read about poachers on the following website: foraging (p. 9), elongated (p. 10), vigilant (p. 20), Have ominous (p. 21), precarious (p. 26), pestilence
students research one of the animals that are endan- (p. 30), diabolical (p. 32), alliance (p. 89), lamented
gered because of poachers, and prepare a speech (p. 93), accomplice (p. 141), mockery (p. 159),
about why poachers must be stopped, and what petulant (p. 160), , hypnotic (p. 183), composure
U.S. citizens can do to save animals from extinction. (p. 185), marshaled (p. 201), proposition (p. 212),
and miniscule (p. 214).
Correlates to Common Core Language
Arts Standards in Writing: Research Encourage students to use a dictionary to check
to Build & Present Knowledge W.
their definitions. How well did they do?
3-5.7, W. 3-5.8; Speaking & Listening:
Presentation of Knowledge & Ideas Divide the class into small groups, and ask them to
SL. 3-5.4; Language: Conventions of
create a crossword puzzle using vocabulary words.
Standard English L. 4-5.1; Knowledge
of Language L. 3-5.3. Use definitions, synonyms and antonyms to create
clever clues. Refer them to this template:

Correlates to Common Core Language Arts Standards in

Language: Vocabulary Acquisition & Use L 3-5.4.

The discussion questions and activities in this guide were

written by Pat Scales, Children’s Literature Consultant and
retired school librarian.

Curriculum Connections Activity Sheet

View a picture of Bismark doing something silly.
View a picture of the animals at the game.
Bismark says to Tobin, “We can be
bold in adventure…we can be brave in “The bleachers were boiling with anticipation
challenge…we can be—” and excitement.” (p. 191)
Write and perform a rap about the Nocturnal Brigade that Use information from the text about the players of NOC HOC
reveals the characteristics expressed by Bismark. and write a cheer for each team to use in the final showdown.
Both Acitvities Correlate to Common Core Language
Arts Standards in Writing: Text Types & Purposes W.
3-5.3; Research to Build & Present Knowledge W. 4-5.9.
Educational Resources

Download for free at


The Nocturnals Language Arts Guides contain lessons and activities that are aligned to the Language Arts Common
Core Standards. Language Arts Guides are available for the middle grade and the Grow & Read early reader titles

Middle Grade Activities Include:

• Classroom Discussion Questions
• Vocabulary / Use of Language
• Write a Rap for Bismark
• Write a NocHoc Cheer
• Wish Upon a Star Reading Connections
• Acrostic Poem

Early Reader Activities Include:

• Classroom Discussion Questions
• Challenge Words
• Problem Solving Graphic Organizer
• Compare and Contrast Venn Diagram
• Story and Character Map


The Nocturnals Science Guides contain STEM lessons and activities that are aligned to the Next Generation Science
Standards. Science Guides are available for the middle grade titles.

Activities include:
• Investigative Animal Research
• Animal Activity Cards
• Investigate Poaching
• Interview with a Tuatara
• Nesting Sanctuary Lab
• Make a Model of a Volcano
• Ring of Fire Activity
• Identify Lemurs with a Dichotomous Key
• Woylie Sound Lab
The Nocturnals series features three unlikely friends: Tracey Hecht is a writer who
Dawn, a serious fox; Tobin, a sweet pangolin; and has written, directed, and pro-
Bismark, a loudmouthed, pint-sized sugar glider. The duced for film. She currently
Nocturnals world introduces readers to a variety of splits her time between New
familiar and unfamiliar animals. The stories all play out York City and Oquossoc,
in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship, and Maine, with her husband, four
humor in every adventure. All the adventures in The children, and puppy, Penny.
Nocturnals address social situations—such as bullying,
In partnership with the New
accepting differences, and empathy—in an easy and
York Public Library, Tracey
acceptable way.
created a Read Aloud Writing Program for local
schools. The program has since expanded nationwide
Each title is leveled by Fountas & Pinnell and Lexile, and
via Virtual Author Visits, and now you can bring
The Mysterious Abductions is available as an AR Quiz.
Tracey into your school, library, or book club.
The early reader books are appropriate for children 5-7,
Email to set up a FREE
and the middle grade books for children 8-12.
Virtual Visit.

Middle Grade Titles: The Mysterious Abductions 978-1-944020-00-2; The Ominous Eye 978-1-944020-03-3; The Fallen Star 978-1-944020-05-7;
The Hidden Kingdom 978-1-944020-11-8 Early Reader Titles: The Moonlight Meeting 978-1-944020-15-6;
The Slithery Shakedown 978-1-944020-16-3; The Peculiar Possum 978-1-944020-20-0; The Chestnut Challenge 978-1-944020-22-4


Language Arts Guides Science Guides
Pat Scales is a children’s literature specialist and retired Erica Colon is the President and curriculum
school librarian. She taught Children’s Literature at designer of Nitty Gritty Science, which she started
Furman University for 27 years and has taught special as a way to share her passion for teaching. She
courses at University of Texas, Louisiana State University, received her PhD and MEd from University of
Drexel University, and University of South Carolina. Hawaii at Manoa and her BS from SUNY at
She is a contributor to Book Links Magazine and has a Oswego. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.
bimonthly column in School Library Journal.
Libby Romero is a former journalist and teacher
Dawn Jacobs Martin, PhD, is an Assistant Clinical Pro- who has developed curriculum guides and
fessor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She activities for numerous educational publishers,
works to improve the academic outcomes for students including National Geographic and the Smithsonian
with disabilities through teacher development, instruc- Institution. She received her BJ from the University
tional design, and research in the areas of response to of Missouri-Columbia and her MEd from
intervention, social support, and parental involvement. Marymount University.