Discussion Guide: Curse of the Night Witch

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Book Summary Curse of the Night Witch:

Join Tor and his two friends Engle and Melda on Emblem Island, where everyone in their village is born with an emblem, a mark somewhere on their body that symbolizes how they will spend the course of their lives. Tor doesn't like his leadership emblem and wants to choose his path. During the annual New Year's Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire, Tor wishes for a different emblem and then wakes up with a new symbol, a curse that only the Night Witch can break.

For children ages 8 - 12 years old who love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan Presents: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, and The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz.

  • If you could choose an emblem to be born with, which emblem would you choose? Tor and Melda's leadership emblem, Engle's sight-seer emblem, allows him to see far distances, even through objects, if the conditions are right. Or the symbol that Tor wanted, a water-breathing emblem, the power to breathe underwater and swim deep down into the bottom of the ocean.

  • Author Alex Aster drew inspiration from her grandmother to write Emblem Island: Curse of the Night Witch. Alex's grandmother would tell her stories from different Colombian folklore before bedtime, such as "La niña con la Estrella en la Frente" or "The Girl with the Star on her Forehead." Folk tales are passed down orally and sometimes are hard to find if someone doesn't write them down. Has a family member ever told you a story out loud before you went to bed? Next time there is a story that your family shares out loud, you can write it down.

  • Which story from Emblem Island's storybook, The Book of Cuentos, Tor and his friends use to help guide them on their adventures was your favorite?

  • Can you write your folktale or mythological story based on your family's heritage?

“I think this was really the book of my heart. I spent so much time practicing and learning the craft, and this was really writing what I knew. This was writing the stories that I had grown up with and the mythology I was familiar with, and I think that's definitely why it was easy. I wasn't trying to force myself to write something that felt unnatural. It was just writing what was in my heart.”—Alex Aster

—Thank you to author Alex Aster and to Director of Marketing of Sourcebooks Kids Heather Moore.

Book cover for Curse of the Night Witch
Curse of the Night Witch
Aster, Alex