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Felix has nightmares. Every night when he falls asleep he goes to the land of monsters, and when he wakes up he's back in his bed with mud on his feet and torn pajamas. One night Felix meets a boy who knows how to fight the monsters, a boy who looks just like him and is also named Felix. The Other Felix is a fantastical, psychological story of growing up for kids who have graduated from Where the Wild Things Are but are still fascinated by the world of dreams.
|Publisher:||Roaring Brook Press|
|File size:||1 MB|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of several adult novels. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.
Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of several adult novels. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.
Read an Excerpt
The Other Felix
ONEFelix woke up in the woods, wearing his pajamas. He looked around for his slippers, but his slippers were under his bed, and he wasn't lying in his bed. He was lying on dry, rust-colored pine needles. The bed of needles was soft until he rolled over. Then the needles turned sharp and pricked him.He stood up. There were tall, thin trees all around him, their bare trunks marching off into gray mist. High above, their green branches touched, forming a ceiling. Nothing moved in the trees, not a bird, not a bug. He listened, but the woods were completely silent except for the sound of his own breathing.Felix shivered in his thin pajamas."Well," he said. "There's nothing here, so I may as well see what's over there."He started walking. He wondered what time it was. In the dim light it was hard to tell. The ground rose under his feet. He was going uphill. The dirt he walked on was worn into a path. But the trees were growing closer together, and it was getting darker.Up ahead he saw a flight of stone steps climbing the hill. The stones were old and crumbled and had moss growing in the cracks between them.He climbed the steps, counting as he went. " ... thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine."Then he stood at the top. He had expected to find something, maybe a house, because surely steps were made to lead somewhere. But there was nothing, only the woods crowding the daylight from the sky. On the other side of the steps, the path ran downhill."Well," he said. "I guess I'll keep going and see what's at the end of the path."But his feet didn't move. Maybe they weren't listening. The way ahead did look awfully dark.Then Felix heard something. Somewhere in the forest, a moan rose and fell and then trailed away.Felix listened, but the woods were silent again. Maybe it had only been wind blowing through thepine boughs. Once again he got ready to follow the path downhill.Then a branch broke with a crack."Hello?" called Felix. "Hello?"He heard the clatter of hooves on rock. He heard wet, ragged breaths. He glimpsed something, fast as quicksilver--curly horns, scaly hide, spiky tail--and then it was gone again.It was nothing he'd ever seen in a zoo. But he had seen something like it somewhere. As he remembered, his heart started beating more quickly.He had seen it in a book about monsters.Felix spun around. It was behind him. No, it was in front of him. He couldn't tell. He held his breath, listening.It grew very quiet, as if the monster were listening for Felix, too.Then Felix heard snuffling sounds. The monster was trying to catch his scent.There was a shuddering inhalation, a low growl, and then the monster started coming toward him, much faster than before. Rocks slid and scattered as its hooves kicked the earth. Its breath huffed and chuffed, its belly making hungry rumbling sounds.Felix turned and ran back down the hill. He watched his feet flying down the broken steps as if they belonged to someone else. He made it to thebottom of the steps without falling, but as he stepped onto the path, his ankle twisted and he stumbled and fell.Sprawled on the ground, he looked back, up the stone staircase, expecting to see the monster galloping down. But he saw nothing. The monster was still hidden in the trees.Felix stood up and started running again. The sharp pine needles hurt his bare feet. His throat burned as he sucked air into his lungs. He felt as if he were running in slow motion. Surely the monster could run faster than him.The monster was louder now, crazed with hunger. It sounded like a garbage truck crashing through the woods. Any minute now, it would come into the open.He ran harder. The monster was still loud, but it wasn't getting any louder. Maybe Felix could get away.He saw the clearing, the bed of pine needles where he first woke up. He thought for a moment that he was safe. Then he realized that he wasn't safe at all. He was in a huge forest far away from his home. In a moment, the monster would storm into the clearing. Felix would have to keep running, into the dark trees on the other side.As he crossed the deep bed of pine needles, hisfeet dropped out from under him. He fell, through the forest floor, into darkness----and into his own bed.He was awake. His heart was racing and he was breathing hard. The sweaty sheets were tangled around his feet. He was still scared--he felt as though he were in two places at once and, at any moment, his bedroom might turn into a forest filled with monsters.But the city's light glimmered around the corners of his window shades. Far below, a car horn honked. Two sirens wailed in a sad duet. And the walls of his dark room stayed white.Felix looked at the glowing numbers on his clock. It was three in the morning. He pulled up his blankets and reached for his stuffed aardvark. He was too old for stuffed animals, he knew, but a boy who was chased by monsters needed a friend.Soon his heart had slowed to a normal bump-bump, bump-bump. His breathing became deep and even. And in a little while he fell asleep again.Text copyright @ 2011 by Keir Graff Illustrations copyright @ 2011 Oriol Vidal Published by Roaring Brook Press Roaring Brook Press is a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
Reading Group Guide
Discussion Questions for Chapters 1 through 4
He heard the clatter of hooves on rock. He heard wet, ragged breaths. He glimpsed something, fast as quicksilver – curly horns, scaly hide, spiky tail – and then it was gone again (3).
1. Where is Felix?
2. What is happening to him?
3. Why is he dressed in his pajamas?
4. Where are his shoes? Slippers?
5. Do you find this situation to be strange?
6. Is the frightening creature described above real or imagined?
Felix would have to keep running, into the dark trees on the other side (4).
1. Can the darkness be a symbol for something important to the story? If so, what do you think?
2. Felix is running to the ‘other side.' What does that mean?
3. Where is the other side?
4. What is on the other side?
While he had seen pictures of forests, rivers, and mountains in books, he had never seen a forest, river,
or mountain in real life (8).
1. Do you find this statement to be surprising?
2. The opening page reads, "Felix woke up in the woods…He was lying on dry, rust colored pine needles…There were tall, thin trees all around him" (1). If Felix had never actually seen a forest,
where did the experience in the first chapter come from?
3. Could the forest land be considered the ‘other side'?
4. What about the words ‘real life'? Is Felix's forest land ‘real life'?
But he didn't mind anything that happened while he was awake. Because when he was asleep, he had bad dreams (12).
1. Describe Felix's family life.
a. What is his mother like?
b. What is his father like?
c. What is ‘The Project'?
d. Are they a happy family?
2. Describe Felix's babysitter, Mrs. Nowak.
a. Does she like Felix?
b. Does Felix like her?
c. Could the Halloween smell of Mrs. Nowak's apartment be a metaphor for something happening in the story?
3. Describe Felix's school life.
4. Does Felix have any fears? Worries?
He was proud of himself for planning ahead (13).
1. What did Felix do to plan ahead?
2. Felix seems to be learning dream-land survival skills, of sorts.
a. Does he seem overly fearful about this?
b. Is he cautious?
3. How would you be reacting to entering the dream land if you were Felix?
He had an idea. He would draw a map of the land where he went in his dreams (23).
1. Can you think of ways that, by drawing the dream land in class, Felix has invited trouble into his real life?
2. How have things changed since he drew the picture of the dream land?
3. How does Felix change as he is drawing the picture?
4. What about Chase?
a. Who is he? What is he like?
b. Do you like him?
5. What bad thing does Chase do?
6. How did Felix respond?
7. Isn't it interesting that, when Felix told his father about the monsters, his father said, "Well, you need to chase those monsters with good thoughts" (27). Discuss the metaphor.
Similes and Metaphors
Similes and metaphors are ‘figures of speech' that help create pictures in the reader's mind by using words in an imaginative way.
Similes compare things that are not similar through the use of the words ‘like' or ‘as'. Consider the use of the word ‘quicksilver' in the line, "He glimpsed something, fast as quicksilver – curly horns, scaly hide, spiky tail – and then it was gone again (3)." Quicksilver is element on the periodic table – mercury – with a consistency similar to liquid metal. If something is ‘fast as quicksilver' it is it slinky, unpredictable, silvery, and slick. The use of this simile paints a vivid word picture of Felix's first impression of the monsters in the dream land. Those monsters moved fast!
Metaphors are figures of speech that use implied comparisons, or symbolic hints, of different things without using ‘like' or ‘as'.
For example, the literal use of the word ‘planted' in the phrase "These roses are planted in good soil" corresponds with exactly what the definition of the word. The roses are literally planted in the ground. However, an example of the use of the same word as a metaphor would be, "A man's feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world (George
Santana)." As a metaphor, the word ‘planted' is symbolic of the suggestion that a man should stand in one place, rather than bury his feet in soil and hope to sprout rose buds.
Keir Graff, the author, used similes and metaphors throughout the story to create an dark,
eerie, suspenseful, and sometimes a little creepy cross-over between two worlds. Read closely to see if you can find them!
Discussion Questions for Chapters 5 through 8
Felix looked at the boy, flabbergasted. The boy had orange hair and fair skin like Felix…From the tuft of hair sticking up on the back of his head to the small white scar on his lip, the boy looked in every way just like Felix (31).
1. While the boys share identical physical features, their personalities differ tremendously.
a. Compare the two boys named Felix. In what ways are they the same?
b. Contrast the two boys named Felix. In what ways are they different?
2. Felix recognized the tune the other boy was whistling as "Over the Rainbow".
a. Think about the lyrics of this song, in particular the line, "There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby."
b. What kind of land can be found over the rainbow?
c. Is there any similarity between the land in the song and Felix's dream land?
d. Is the song a metaphor for Felix's dream land? How so?
3. In the dream land, who is in control?
A sharp black thorn tugged at his sleeve…Dark red blood oozed from a deep puncture. Felix blinked back tears (33).
1. When you dream, do you feel pain?
[Felix] couldn't keep his balance standing up, so he knelt down on the logs. His pants got wet, and his knees got knocked, but he didn't think he would fall in the water (36).
2. Have you ever had an experience like this in a dream – splashing water and knocking knees?
The sandwich was peanut butter and jelly on soft brown bread with potato chips smooshed into it. It was delicious. Felix ate it hungrily (39).
3. The delicious details of the sandwich and Felix's hunger seem very realistic. Are details like these as vivid in your dreams?
4. Is the dream land real?
5. If so, then is the real-life a dream?
"Monsters can go anywhere," said the Other Felix (37).
1. Are the monsters the Other Felix is referring to limited to the dream land?
2. Are there monsters in the real-world?
3. If so, where are they?
4. What are they?
5. Who are they?
"Felix took it," said Chase. "I didn't want to say anything, but he did. I saw him take it after school"
1. Explain what has happened in this scene.
2. Did Felix take the calculator or did Chase? Are you sure?
3. Do you find this scene somewhat unbelievable? Something like a dream?
4. Is Chase a monster?
5. Is Felix?
"Nobody knows exactly what happens to people after they die," said his mother. "But they live in our thoughts. And in our dreams" (50).
1. If what she is saying is true, could the Other Felix be dead?
2. Why do you think Felix is asking his mother questions such as this?
His stomach growled like a little monster (56).
1. Is Felix changing somehow?
2. Is the dream-land version of Felix becoming more real?
3. Is the real-life Felix becoming more like a dream?
The Other Felix had never seen a high-rise, or even a car. The Other Felix didn't have a family. And he definitely didn't go to school (58).
1. Though both boys look exactly alike, they are opposite from each other in many ways. Discuss the differences and similarities between the two with regard to:
a. Experiences b. Family c. Character d. Fears
2. Which Felix is real?
Discussion Questions for Chapters 9 through 12
"I won't even ask," she said.
Felix wanted her to ask, even though he knew she wouldn't believe what he told her (60).
1. Why does Felix want his mother to ask about his muddy slippers?
2. Do you think Felix feels invisible to his mother? His father?
3. Could his parents be preoccupied with other things? Too busy for Felix?
4. If so, is his why Felix has created a dream land?
5. Or, do you believe that the dream land is real?
When [Felix] read aloud, he didn't sound like the good reader he knew he really was. He made mistakes. He read too fast. The characters, who sounded so real in his head, all sounded like a kid named Felix (61).
1. What is happening to Felix? Is he changing?
2. Who is the ‘kid named Felix'? Him? The Other Felix?
3. Is he beginning to lose control?
The door opened again and Miss Olu came out, holding Felix's backpack. She unzipped it and looked inside. Then she reached in and pulled out the calculator (65).
1. Can you explain how the calculator got into Felix's backpack?
2. Do you think there is a chance that Felix actually did steal the calculator?
3. Why is Chase intimidating Felix? What is his motive?
4. How are Felix and Chase similar?
5. How are they different?
6. Why do you think this is happening to Felix?
Felix wasn't afraid of going to sleep anymore (66).
"It's okay," said Felix. "But I like it here better" (71).
1. Why do you think Felix is no longer afraid of entering the dream world?
2. Why does he like it better than the real-world?
3. What has changed for him in the real-world?
4. What has changed in the dream world?
"You'll get better if you practice," said the Other Felix. "Bows aren't any good against monsters anyway" (74).
1. When someone practices something, like shooting arrows with a bow, their confidence grows as their skills develop. The more practice, the more confidence is developed. Can you think of an area in Felix's life where he could use more confidence? An area where some skills need developing?
2. If bows aren't any good against monsters, what is?
3. How does a person fight against monsters in the dream world? In the real world?
4. If fighting against them with weapons doesn't work, what does?
"When someone does something bad to you, are you allowed to do something bad to them? (77)"
1. What do you think? Should Felix be able to do something bad back to Chase?
2. Would you, if you were Felix?
3. Does doing something bad back solve anything? Make things better? Make things worse?
4. In this case, would a bow be any good against this monster?
5. Are there other ways to combat real-life monsters?
"What's happening?" asked Felix. "Why don't you fight them?"
"I can't," said the Other Felix. "Something's wrong."
Felix looked at his friend and saw something that scared him more than the monster did. The Other
Felix was scared, too (86).
1. Why do you think the Other Felix is losing his dominance over the monsters?
2. Is there anything that has happened in the real-world that could cause a change such as this in
Felix or the Other Felix?
3. At first, the Other Felix was so confident and secure that Felix felt safe in the dream land. Now both boys are feeling the same emotion – fear. They are now on equal ground, in a way. How did this happen?
4. Now that the boys are in the same emotional spot, do you think that they might switch emotional places? That Felix might become the brave one?
5. Will they become equals and work to combat the monsters together?
Discussion Questions for Chapters 13 through 18
If it's only a dream, wondered Felix, then what am I afraid of (90)?
1. What is Felix afraid of?
a. In the dream world?
b. In the real-world?
2. How can Felix gain control of his fears?
3. Are his fears something that he can gain control of?
4. Are fears real?
5. Can they be overcome?
6. If so, how?
Felix screamed and picked up his bow. He knew it was useless but he wouldn't let the monsters win without a fight (91).
1. Though he knows that monsters can't be beat with a bow, he still tries. What does this action tell you about Felix's changed character?
2. Can fighting monsters in the dream world be a metaphor, or a symbol, for fighting monsters in the real world?
3. What does the line ‘wouldn't let the monsters win without a fight' suggest with regard to Felix facing his fears?
"Then show me how to fight the monsters," he said (94).
1. Which monsters is Felix referring to?
2. Are all monsters the same, in some way?
3. What does it take to fight monsters?
4. How do you think the Other Felix will help Felix prepare for battle?
5. Do you think Felix can succeed?
[Miss Olu's] phone looked funny, like a doll's phone, and it played a song when it rang: "Over the
1. Can you think of another time in the story when this song was referenced?
2. Do you think Miss Olu might have something to do with the dream world? How so?
3. Do you think Miss Olu might have something to do with Felix's willingness to face his fears? How so?
"Do you really want to fight the monsters, or do you just want to get away from them" (100)?
1. This is a very important question. What do you think Felix's answer may be?
2. How would you answer this question, if you were Felix?
3. What's the difference between ‘fighting the monsters' and merely ‘getting away from them'?
4. Which monsters is the Other Felix referring to?
5. Could the dream world monsters be a metaphor for the real-life monsters? How so?
6. What about you? Do you have worries or fears in your life? Do you want to fight them, or just get away from them?
"…But you have something that makes you more powerful than they are."
"Happiness is more powerful than unhappiness," said the Other Felix. "Do you think the monsters are happy here" (110)?
1. Is happiness a power? A weapon to be used against evil?
2. Do you think monsters, in the dream or real-world, are happy?
3. How can happiness be a weapon, of sorts? Explain your answer.
4. What about Chase? Is he happy?
But, suddenly, he felt something: he felt the sadness of living in a dark cave in a lonely land. Of being ugly and huge and clumsy…He felt the monster's terrible anger at the kid in front of him – a kid with the courage to simply stand and to look (111).
1. Does it take courage to stand still and face one's fears?
2. To feel the horrible anger of an enemy without reacting in fear or hate?
3. Could Felix be experiencing a feeling of compassion for his enemy? The monster?
4. What can be learned from Felix's response to the monster in this scene? Can the lesson be transferred to Felix's real-world? To your real-world?
He didn't use the word steal when he thought about it because he knew she would get the phone back in the end (118).
1. Describe Felix's plan to frame Chase with Miss Olu's phone.
2. Do you think he did the right thing? An honorable thing?
3. Was hiding Miss Olu's phone in Chase's desk an act of courage? How so?
4. Did Felix fight a monster or just get away from one when he took Miss Olu's phone and hid it in
Discussion Questions for Chapters 19 through 21
"I want to go because I think it would be fun. It's lonely being here by myself" (121).
1. Felix was once quite frightened in the dream world, and now he says that camping there would be fun. What has changed?
2. Felix seems to be more interested in being friendly than the Other Felix does. What has changed in their relationship?
3. Do you think that Felix is lonely in the real-world, too?
4. Is there any difference the type of loneliness Felix might experience between both worlds?
The Other Felix kept turning until he was facing back down the trail, toward Felix. Suddenly, he raised his bow and pulled the sting taut – with an arrow pointed right at Felix's head (123).
1. Who is the monster now?
2. Who is the friend?
3. Why would the Other Felix do something as cruel as this?
4. Is the Other Felix unhappy? Lonely? Jealous?
"It's not my job to hold your hand while you get ready in the morning! The alarm goes off, you get up!
You get dressed, you eat breakfast!...Chase? Chase? Look at me! (127)"
1. What has this scene taught Felix about Chase's home life?
2. Is Chase unhappy at home?
3. Could his unhappiness be part of the reason why Chase is mean to Felix?
4. Why would being hateful to Felix make Chase feel better about his home life?
5. How does Felix feel when he sees Chase's father shouting at his son?
6. Have you ever witnessed something like this? If so, how did you feel? What did you do?
Then, suddenly, a song began to play: "Over the Rainbow." It wasn't just the notes of the song, the way many phone rang. It was a woman's voice singing (132).
1. Chase has been caught with Miss Olu's phone. He will be blamed for stealing it. Felix's plan to frame Chase has worked perfectly, or has it?
2. Why isn't Felix secretly glad that Chase will be blamed for stealing the phone? What has changed?
3. Who is the monster in this scene? Chase or Felix?
4. Do you think setting up Chase in this way was right thing for Felix to do?
5. Do you think the song choice – Over the Rainbow – is a symbol for something? A metaphor, of sorts? Explain your answer.
"They really are afraid of me," he said, wonderingly (137).
1. Why are the monsters afraid of Felix now?
2. Do you think their fear has anything to do with Felix's getting even with Chase?
3. Are the two worlds connecting, somehow?
4. Is Felix gaining control of fear in both worlds? Gaining control of his loneliness?
"Of course it hurts them," said the Other Felix. "I want to hurt them. Don't you think they wanted to hurt me, all those times? Don't you think they wanted to hurt you? (143)"
1. How do the Other Felix's words mirror what Felix has done to Chase? Hurt someone because they have hurt you? Get even?
2. How does this scene relate to the question Felix asked earlier, "When someone does something bad to you, are you allowed to do something bad to them? (77)"
3. Hurting someone back is called retaliation. Do you think retaliation is ever a good idea?
4. Have you ever want to retaliate against someone? Did you do it? If so, how did it feel?
The Other Felix smiled. His smile was strange. Felix hadn't looked in a mirror lately, but he decided that the Other Felix didn't really look at all much like him, after all (144).
1. At this point in the story, compare Felix and the Other Felix. In what ways are they the same?
2. At this point in to story, contrast the two boys. In what ways are they different?
3. While comparing and contrasting the two, discuss their similarities and differences with regard to the following topics:
a. Compassion b. Kindness c. Cruelty d. Happiness e. Anger f. Hope g. Love h. Joy
Discussion Questions for Chapters 22 through 26
"You can't be on the side of the monsters," said the Other Felix. "That makes you a monster. And I
fight monsters' (147).
1. Is this logic true? If a person treats an enemy, or a monster, with kindness does that make that person become an enemy, too?
2. Is it ever possible to stop fighting one another?
3. If so, what can be done to make the fighting stop?
"I'm sorry," said the Other Felix.
"I know," said Felix.
"I didn't really want to hurt you. I just never had a friend."
"Me neither" (150).
1. Do you think that having friends and being a friend can, sometimes, be a complicated thing?
2. Have you ever said something or done something to a friend that you wish you hadn't done?
3. Do we sometimes accidentally make mistakes in friendships?
4. How can the mistakes be fixed?
5. How can friendships be mended?
You are a bad influence because you are unfriendly (153).
1. If someone has influence over others, that person has power, control, and acts as a leader in certain situations. Miss Olu told Chase and Felix that they are bad influences on the other students. What do you think about her accusation? Is she correct?
2. Can someone be a bad influence by withholding something from others – something like kindness? Respect? Friendship?
"My dad's really busy," said Chase. "And my mom's sick. He gets stressed out."
"Yeah, my dad's really busy, too," said Felix. "He's definitely stressed out" (157).
1. So, Chase and Felix do have something in common. What is it?
2. How is Felix improving his influence by talking with Chase in this way?
3. Is he no longer fighting the monster in Chase?
4. Is he standing firm? Befriending?
"They're not always stupid. Sometimes they're cool."
"Depends on the monster," agreed Felix (158).
1. What do you think Chase meant when he told Felix that sometimes monsters are cool?
2. Do you think Chase saw Felix as a monster? Someone to be afraid of? Someone he would be forced to fight?
3. What did Felix mean when he said that it depends on the monster? That monsters are stupid or cool?
4. What you do think is going to happen between these two boys? Will they remain enemies?
Learn to get along with each other? Or will they eventually become friends?
"Dreaming is good," said his mother. "Even when dreams are confusing to us, they help our brains make sense of everything that's happening in our lives" (160).
1. Have Felix's dreams been good for him?
2. Has he learned to make sense of everything that's been going on in his life? How so?
3. Were his dreams real or fantasy?
4. Do your dreams feel real sometimes?
5. Do they help you figure out things that are happening in your life?
Felix began rising, too. He rose higher and higher in the air and the monsters grew smaller and smaller. The Other Felix became a dot, then a speck, then disappeared into a cloud of dust (164).
1. How does this scene mirror Felix's mother's words, that dreams help "make sense of everything that's happening in our lives"?
2. Felix is rising high above his worries. Is this a symbol, or metaphor, for his dream world/real-life journey? How so?
His father squeezed back. "You know how to fight monsters?"
Felix nodded. "It's not as hard as it sounds. And I can show you how to do it, too" (169).
1. Do you think Felix can help his father fight monsters?
2. What kind of monsters is Felix referring to? What his father is referring to?
3. What monster fighting secrets will he share with his father?
4. What monster fighting secrets would you share with his father? With others in your life?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you are considering buying this book,DON'T. I don't care what any of these other reviews say about this book. I absolutely hated it. It will leave you feeling confused and pitiful. DO NOT buy this book. You are WASTING your money. I got this book from the library and im glad i never bought it. I FORBID you (yes you reading this right now) to buy this book. I am done with my warning to alll those who are considering buying this book, and i hope i never think about it again. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Thoughtful and imaginative. This story is as beautiful as the illustrations that grace its pages!