The Shattered Lens (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Series #4)

The Shattered Lens (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Series #4)

by Brandon Sanderson

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The Shattered Lens is the fourth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. These fast-paced and funny novels are now available in deluxe hardcover editions illustrated by Hayley Lazo.

Alcatraz Smedry is up against a whole army of Evil Librarians with only his friend Bastille, a few pairs of glasses, and an unlimited supply of exploding teddy bears to help him. This time, even Alcatraz's extraordinary talent for breaking things may not be enough to defeat the army of Evil Librarians and their giant librarian robots.

“An excellent choice to read aloud to the whole family. It's funny, exciting, and briskly paced.” —Nancy Pearl on NPR'S Morning Edition

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466865563
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 07/19/2016
Series: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Series , #4
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 237,596
File size: 14 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 9 - 13 Years

About the Author

BRANDON SANDERSON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Rithmatist and Steelheart, both of which were selected for the American Library Association's Teens' Top Ten list. He's also written many popular and award-winning books for adults. His middle grade series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, is now available in deluxe editions.
Brandon Sanderson grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. He is the author of such bestsellers as the Mistborn® trilogy and its sequels, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning; the Stormlight Archive novels The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance; and other novels, including The Rithmatist and Steelheart. In 2013, he won a Hugo Award for Best Novella for The Emperor's Soul, set in the world of his acclaimed first novel, Elantris. Additionally, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time® sequence.

Reading Group Guide

About this guide

The questions and activities that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians novels. The guide has been developed in alignment with the Common Core State Standards; however please feel free to adapt this content to suit the needs and interests of your students or reading group participants.

Brandon Sanderson is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Rithmatist and Steelheart, both of which were selected for the American Library Association’s Teens’ Top Ten list. He’s also written many popular and award-winning books for adults. His middle-grade series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, is now available in deluxe hardcover editions from Starscape.

Hayley Lazo grew up just outside Washington, D.C. Her art can be found at

About this series

Brandon Sanderson turns readers’ understanding of literary genres upside-down and backward in this lively adventure series. In the world of thirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedry, “Librarians,” with their compulsions to organize and control information, are a source of evil, and “Talents” can include breaking things, arriving late, and getting lost. Add an unlikely teenage knight named Bastille, flying glass dragons, wild battles, references to philosophers and authors from Heraclitus to Terry Pratchett, and plenty of hilarious wordplay, and you have a series to please book lovers of all ages—one that will have readers reflecting deeply about the nature of knowledge, truth, family, and trust, all while laughing out loud.


Genre Study:FANTASY

In the introduction to the first book in the series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, the narrator, Alcatraz Smedry, claims that his story is true, even though it will be shelved as “fantasy” in the world known as “the Hushlands” to which his readers (you) belong.

Fantasy is a literary genre that often includes:

• Characters who are magical, inspired by mythology, or who have special powers

• Settings that include unexplored parts of the known world, or new and different worlds

• Plot elements (actions) that cannot be explained in terms of historical or scientific information from our known world

While reading the books in this series, note when the author uses some of these elements of fantasy to tell his story. Students can track their observations in reading journals if desired, noting which elements of the fantasy genre are most often used by the author.

Older readers (grades 6 and 7) may also consider the way the author incorporates elements of the following genre into his novels, as well as how this genre relates to the fantasy components of the series:

Science fiction, which deals with imaginative concepts such as futuristic settings and technologies, space and time travel, and parallel universes. Science fiction stories frequently explore the effects of specific scientific or technological discoveries on governments and societies.

After reading one or more of the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians books, invite students to reread the “Author’s Foreword” to Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians and discuss why they think the author chose to begin the series by explaining where the books will be shelved in a library.


The Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series can be viewed as the author’s exploration of the idea, concept, and value of books themselves as both a way information is shared, and the way it is contained. One way Brandon Sanderson accomplishes this is to question the very structure of the novel. Invite students to look for the following elements in the stories and share their reactions to these literary devices and structures.


In this series, the point of view through which the reader sees the story is in the first-person voice of Alcatraz Smedry. He also claims that he is using the name Brandon Sanderson as a pseudonym, thus this is an autobiography or memoir. Is Alcatraz Smedry a reliable narrator, giving readers an unbiased report of the events of the story, or is Alcatraz an unreliable narrator, making false claims or telling the story in such a way as to leave doubts in the reader’s mind? In what ways is Alcatraz reliable and/or unreliable? How might the series be different if Bastille or another character were telling the story? (Hint: For further examples of unreliable narrators in children’s and teen fiction, read Jon Sciezska’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Treasure Seekers, Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.)


At times, the narrator directly addresses the reader, suggesting how s/he should interpret a comment or how to best enjoy the novel (e.g. reading aloud or acting out scenes). Does this change the reader’s sense of his or her relationship with the book? If so, how does this relationship feel different?


Discuss the unusual ways the author begins, ends, numbers, and sequences chapters particularly in books four and five. Is this pleasant or unpleasant? Have readers come across any other works of fiction (or nonfiction) that explore chapters in this way?


To explain Free Kingdoms ideas, technologies, and objects in terms of the Hushlander (readers’) world, the author uses similes, metaphors, and analogies. To reflect protagonist Alcatraz’s own confusion and frustration, Brandon Sanderson employs invented words, puns, and even text written backward or in other unusual ways. Find examples of these uses of wordplay in the text. How does the use of these literary devices enrich the text?


Having been raised in foster homes convinced that both of his parents were horrible people, Alcatraz Smedry is often uncertain as to what it means to like, love, and trust other people. Since he is the narrator of the series, Alcatraz’s uncertainty affects readers’ perceptions of the characters he describes. In a reading journal or in class discussion, have students analyze the physical traits, lineage (parents, relationships), motivations, and concerns of major characters in the novel. How is each character related to Alcatraz? What is especially important about the idea of family relationships in this series? Does Alcatraz’s view of certain characters change in the course of a single book? Do recurring characters develop or change over the course of more than one book in the series? If so, how and why do the characters evolve?

English Language Arts Common Core Reading Literature Standards

RL.3.3-6, 4.3-6, 5.3-6, 6.3-6, 7.3-6

Themes & Motifs:DISCUSSION TOPICS for the SERIES

Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians novels can be read on many levels, including as adventure stories, as musings on the nature of knowledge, and as fantasies incorporating elements of science fiction. Here are some themes you may want to watch for and explore with your classmates or students.


How does Sanderson use the word “talent” in traditional and nontraditional ways? Is talent important, valuable, even essential? What does Sanderson really mean by “talent”? How might students incorporate Sanderson’s unique interpretation of the word “talent” into their own sense of self?


Throughout the novel, Alcatraz claims to be “bad,” “a liar,” “a coward,” and “not a hero.” What makes a “hero” in a novel, a movie, and in real life? Does it matter if a person acts heroically on purpose or by accident? What do you think is the most important reason Alcatraz denies his heroism?

Knowledge, Learning, Thinking

Find instances in the stories when Alcatraz admits to acting before thinking ahead to consider all possible outcomes of his plans. In these instances, is he simply being careless or does he lack some important information since he was raised in the Librarian controlled Hushlands? Compare and contrast the way people acquire knowledge in the Hushlands versus the Free Kingdoms.


In The Shattered Lens, the narrator refers to the ideas of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, whose doctrines included (1) universal flux (the idea that things are constantly changing) and (2) unity of opposites (the idea that opposites [objects, ideas] are necessary and balance each other). The philosopher also believed that “Much learning does not teach understanding.” (The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, ed. Charles H. Kahn. Cambridge University Press, 1981). How might the series be read as an exploration of Heraclitus’ doctrines?

English Language Arts Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards

SL.3.1, 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1

SL.3.3, 4.3, 5.3, 6.3, 7.3


Keep a reading journal. Use the journal to record:

• Favorite quotations, funny lines, exciting scenes (note page numbers)

• Situations in which the main character is in crisis or danger, and notes on what advice readers might offer

• New vocabulary words and/or a list of invented words; deliberately misspelled words

• Sketches inspired by the novels

• Questions readers would like to ask the author or characters from the novels

Explore Glass

From Oculator’s Lenses to unbreakable glass buildings, glass is a core substance throughout the series. Go to the library or online to learn more about glass. Create a PowerPoint or other multi-media presentation discussing the physical properties, history, practical and creative uses of glass. Or create a presentation explaining how glass works in the Free Kingdoms. Include visual elements, such as photographs or drawings, in your presentation.

Silimatic Technology

This part scientific, part magical technology powers much of the Free Kingdoms. Using details from the novels, create an outline or short pamphlet explaining the rules and functions of silimatic technology as you understand it. If desired, dress as you imagine a Free Kingdoms scientist might choose to dress and present your findings to classmates.

Choose a Talent

Many of the characters in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have talents that seem more like problems. Think of a personality quality you consider a fault in your own life, such as messy penmanship, poor spelling, or the inability to catch a baseball. Imagine how that talent might prove useful in the world of Alcatraz. Write a 3-5 page scene in which you encounter Alcatraz and help him using your “talent.”

English Language Arts Common Core Writing Standards

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3

W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9



Who is Alcatraz Smedry? Is his tendency to break things a curse…or a talent? Though his past has been marked by a series of disastrous foster home placements, his breaking ability is about to lead him to a future battling Evil Librarians and discovering the truth about his long-missing parents.


Discuss your interpretation of the following quotations in terms their meaning within the novel; in terms of your thoughts about books and libraries; and in terms of their relevance to the real lives of readers.

“Now, you Hushlanders may think that I took all of these strange experiences quite well…maybe if you’d grown up with the magical ability to break almost anything you touched, then you would have been just as quick to accept unusual circumstances.” (Chapter 3)

“Public libraries exist to entice. Librarians want everyone to read their books—whether those books are deep and poignant works about dead puppies or nonfiction books about made-up topics, like the Pilgrims, penicillin, and France. In fact the only book they don’t want you to read is the one you’re holding right now.” (Chapter 7)

“It has been my experience that most problems in life are caused by a lack of information. Many people just don’t know the things they need to know.

Some ignore the truth; others never understand it.” (Chapter 15)


Reading Journal Entry: A BAG OF SAND

What would you make of the sort of birthday present Alcatraz received? Write a journal entry describing how you might have reacted and the emotions you felt (anger, curiosity, disappointment, confusion) upon receiving such a gift. Sketch your vision of this odd gift.

Reading Journal Entry: LYING

Throughout the novel, Alcatraz insists that he is a liar. Write an entry into your reading journal in which you explain what you think Alcatraz means by being a LIAR. Follow with your thoughts on one or more of the following questions: Have you ever acted or felt like a liar in ways similar to those of Alcatraz? Have you ever felt like people were not seeing you as your true self—or were making assumptions about you based on information from other people? How did you react? Did you try to make people see the truth or allow them to believe the falsehood? Is lying always bad? Is something that feels like a lie always a lie?

Explanatory Text: SANDS OF RASHID

Imagine you are Bastille, Sing, or Grandpa Smedry separated from Alcatraz but anxious for him to understand the truth about the Sands of Rashid. In the voice of one of these characters, write a letter of explanation to send to Alcatraz.

Literary Analysis: CLIFFHANGERS

“Hooks and cliffhangers belong only at the ends of chapters.”

Go to the library or online to find definitions of the novel-writing terms “hook” and “cliffhanger.” Find examples of these devices as Brandon Sanderson uses them in his novel. Then, write a one-page essay in which you agree or disagree with the above quotation from the book. Use examples from Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians and other novels to support your position.

English Language Arts Common Core Standards

RL.3.1-4, 4.1-4, 5.1-4, 6.1-4, 7.1-4

SL.3.3-4, 4.3-4, 5.3-4, 6.3-4, 7.3-4

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3; W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9

Lexile level: 730L, ATOS Book Level: 4.9, AR Points: 9.0, AR Quiz No. 118054 EN


Has Alcatraz’s estranged father gotten lost in the secret underground Library of Alexandria? And is he willing to pay the ultimate price for limitless knowledge…the sacrifice of his soul?


Discuss the following quotations in terms of what they mean in terms of the novel; in terms of your thoughts about books and libraries; and in terms of their relevance to the real lives of readers.

“The things I am telling you here are factual. In this case, I can only prove that I’m a liar by telling the truth, though I will also include some lies—which I will point out—to act as object lessons proving the truth that I’m a liar.” (Chapter 4)

“The quickest way I’ve found to feel bad about yourself is to read a self-help book, and the second quickest way is to read a depressing literary work intended to make you feel terrible about humanity in general.” (Chapter 9)

“Many people would rather give up what remains of their lives than live in ignorance…. This is only one of the many ways that we gain souls.” (Chapter 9)

“Writers—particularly storytellers like myself—write about people. That is ironic, since we actually know nothing about them.” (Chapter 16)

“Think about it. Why does someone become a writer? Is it because they like people? Of course not. Why else would we seek out a job where we get to spend all day, every day, cooped up in our basement with no company besides paper, a pencil, and our imaginary friends?” (Chapter 16)


Reading Journal Entry: KNOWLEDGE

The Curators attempt to trick Alcatraz and his comrades into reading. In a short essay or reading journal entry, describe what type of knowledge is most tempting to you. What is the most important kind of knowledge? Do you think you would be able to avoid the Curators’ traps? Why or why not?


With friends or classmates, go to the library or online to learn more about the Ancient Library of Alexandria and other ancient libraries or archives. Create informative posters about these places, their locations, history, contents, and legacy, and assemble them into a classroom display.

Literary Analysis: NAMES

Many Free Kingdoms characters have names associated with prisons. Make an annotated list of characters with prison names accompanied by facts about their namesake prisons. What reason(s) are given for the prison names by various characters in the story? Can you think of other novels, book series, television shows, or movies in which characters’ names are related to such things as historical figures or geographical landmarks? What impact does Brandon Sanderson’s naming choice have on your reading of the story?


Write a short essay explaining how the idea of a “Forgotten Language” is introduced in the story and how it becomes an increasingly important concept throughout the course of the novel. Why might the idea of language be something Brandon Sanderson seeks to put at the core of this series?

English Language Arts Common Core Standards

RL.3.1-4, 4.1-4, 5.1-4, 6.1-4, 7.1-4

SL.3.3-4, 4.3-4, 5.3-4, 6.3-4, 7.3-4

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3; W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9

Lexile level: 660L, ATOS Book Level: 4.7, AR Points: 9.0, AR Quiz No. 126447 EN


Can Alcatraz handle the realization that, in the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, he is incredibly famous? How will that change his friendship with Bastille, who has been stripped of her knighthood for failing to protect the “great” Alcatraz? And can either of them save the historic city from the Evil Librarians?


Discuss the following quotations in terms of what they mean in terms of the novel; in terms of your thoughts about books and libraries; and in terms of their relevance to the real lives of readers.

“Summarizing is when you take a story that is complicated and interesting, then stick it in a microwave until it shrivels up into a tiny piece of black crunchy tarlike stuff. A wise man once said, ‘Any story, no matter how good, will sound really, really dumb when you shorten it to a few sentences.’” (Chapter 8)

“People tend to believe what other people tell them…. And if we didn’t know who was an expert, we wouldn’t know whose opinion was the most important to listen to.

Or, at least that’s what the experts want us to believe. Those who have listened to Socrates know that they’re supposed to ask questions. Questions like, ‘If all people are equal, then why is my opinion worth less than that of the expert?’ or ‘If I like reading this book, then why should I let someone else tell me that I shouldn’t like reading it?’” (Chapter 13)

“I mean, why is it that you readers always assume you’re never to blame for anything? You just sit there, comfortable on your couch while we suffer. You can enjoy our pain and misery because you’re safe.” (Chapter 19)


Reading Journal Entry: FAME

Upon arriving in the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, Alcatraz discovers that he is famous. In the character of Alcatraz, write a journal entry describing how you came to this discovery, your emotions, and any planned actions you might take since discovering this new fame and its power.

Explanatory Text: KNIGHTHOOD

Write a short essay explaining the roles, responsibilities, and sacrifices made by members of the Knights of Crystallia. Is Bastille an ordinary or unusual knight? Why or why not?

Explanatory Text: SOCRATES

With friends or classmates, go to the library or online to learn more about the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates and the “Socratic method” of teaching and learning. Compile your information into a short report. Conclude with 1-3 paragraphs explaining why Brandon Sanderson references Socrates in the novel.


Alcatraz is told that talents can have impact on space, time, knowledge, and the physical world, and that his talent (breaking things) is the one ability that can impact all four areas. Make a four-columned list to analyze these areas, noting the names and talents of various story characters whose abilities fall under each category, brainstorming other possible talents that could be included in each column and, finally, writing a short paragraph explaining the breaking talent and its breadth of impact.

English Language Arts Common Core Standards

RL.3.1-4, 4.1-4, 5.1-4, 6.1-4, 7.1-4

SL.3.3-4, 4.3-4, 5.3-4, 6.3-4, 7.3-4

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3; W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9

Lexile level: 670L, ATOS Book Level: 4.9, AR Points: 9.0, AR Quiz No. 133649 EN


The island of Mokia is under siege by the Librarians, and its fate may tip the scales for the Librarians’ conquest of all the Free Kingdoms…unless Alcatraz can sort out family, enemies, friends, talents, and the power of exploding teddy bears.


Discuss the following quotations in terms of what they mean in terms of the novel; in terms of your thoughts about books and libraries; and in terms of their relevance to the real lives of readers.

“Most members of my family, it should be noted, are some kind of professor, teacher, or researcher. It may seem odd to you that a bunch of dedicated miscreants like us are also a bunch of scholars. If you think that it means you haven’t known enough professors in your time.” (Chapter 6)

“That’s how they win. By making us give up. I’ve lived in Librarian lands. They don’t win because they conquer, they win because they make people stop caring, stop wondering. They’ll tire you out, then feed you lies until you start repeating them, if only because it’s too hard to keep arguing.” (Chapter 070706)

“Something stirred inside of me, something that felt immense. Like an enormous serpent, shifting, moving, awakening.”

“‘I want everything to make sense again!’” (Chapter 8)

“The Librarians…they try to keep us from changing. They want everything to remain the same inside the Hushlands…

In this case, it’s not because they’re oppressive. It’s because they’re afraid. Change frightens them. It’s unknown, uncertain, like Smedrys and magic. They want everyone to assume that things can’t change.” (Author’s Afterword)


Reading Journal Entry: WHO IS RIGHT?

By the end of the fourth novel, Alcatraz believes that his mother, Shasta, is in the right while his father, Attica, is on a dangerous path. Write a journal entry describing how you think this new perspective will affect Alcatraz’s relationships with his parents. Have you ever felt caught between two parents or other adults in your life? How might you use this experience to offer advice to Alcatraz about handling his situation?

Reading Journal Entry: MOKIA

Imagine that you have arrived in Mokia along with Alcatraz. Write a journal entry describing the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions you experience those first moments on the island nation.


Imagine that you are a scholar from the Free Kingdoms assigned to instruct Alcatraz about the two worlds that coexist on Earth. Prepare a speech, including an introduction of yourself, your name, and your relationship to Alcatraz, then address the following questions: What are the key distinctions between these two worlds? How do characters move between the worlds? Can all characters do so? What do you think would happen to the Hushlands if they were made aware of the Free Kingdoms? Why are the Free Kingdoms so anxious to remain free from the Hushland society created by the Librarians?


Using information from the novel, create a chart comparing and contrasting the characters of Bastille and Draulin, Shasta and Attica Smedry, or another pair of characters of interest to you. Write a paragraph or essay describing the importance of including both of your chosen characters in the book. How does the contrast between the characters represent a larger conflict in the story.


From exploding teddy bears to myriad powerful lenses to terms like “stoopiderific,” the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians novels have a vocabulary of their own. Create an Excel spreadsheet, graphic index, or other type of chart or booklet in which you list and define the language of Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians.


In the course of the series, Alcatraz’s talent is described as the most powerful, dangerous, and dark, yet he is a legend and a hero. With the complex descriptions in mind, write a poem, song lyrics, or a four-panel cartoon celebrating (or denouncing) Alcatraz Smedry.

English Language Arts Common Core Standards

RL.3.1-4, 4.1-4, 5.1-4, 6.1-4, 7.1-4

SL.3.3-4, 4.3-4, 5.3-4, 6.3-4, 7.3-4

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3; W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9

Lexile level: 680L, ATOS Book Level: 4.8, AR Points: 8.0, AR Quiz No. 140919 EN


To stop his father from carrying out a dastardly plan to unleash Talents across the Hushlands, Alcatraz must infiltrate his dad’s hiding place within the Evil Librarians’ great Highbrary—cunningly disguised as the Library of Congress. But can he trust his accomplices, including his terrifying mother Shasta and annoying cousin Dif? And, with his own Talent dangerously disabled, will he be able to find his father in time to save anyone—even himself?


Discuss the following quotations in terms of what they mean in terms of the novel; in terms of your thoughts about books and libraries; and in terms of their relevance to the real lives of readers.

“...the [tales] we tell ourselves these days always seem to need a happy ending…. Is it because the Librarians are protecting us from stories with sad endings? Or is it something about who we are, who we have become as a society, that makes us need to see the good guys win?” (Chapter Mary)

“Have you been with that fool of a grandfather of yours so long you’ve lost the ability to see the world as it has to be?” (Chapter 17)

Father said, “Son, you have to understand. Your mother is a Librarian. In her heart, she’s terrified of change—not to mention frightened of the idea of common people being outside her control.” (Chapter 18)


Reading Journal Entry: COWARDICE

Beginning with the “Foreword,” through chapters “Shu Wei” and 19, to the final pages of the “Afterword,” Alcatraz repeatedly calls himself a “coward.” Do you think Alcatraz is a coward in any or all of these instances? Write a journal entry explaining how you think Alcatraz would define the term coward, whether you use this term in the same way in your own life, and how you feel toward Alcatraz at moments in the story when he sees himself as a coward.

Reading Journal Entry: HAS ALCATRAZ FAILED?

Write a journal entry in which you agree or disagree with Alcatraz’s final page apologia. Has he failed and, if so, whom has he failed? Use quotes from the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series and/or from other novels or poems you have read, to support your position.

Explanatory Text: SMEDRYS

Throughout the novel, Alcatraz, Kaz, Dif, and other characters refer to certain actions or ideas as typical of a member of the Smedry line. In the character of Grandpa, Attica, Shasta, or Dif, write an essay explaining what it means to be a Smedry. Or, in the character of Alcatraz, write a letter to Bastille describing how you feel about belonging to the Smedry family.

Explanatory Text: AESOP’S FABLES

Brandon Sanderson makes several references to fables, particularly Aesop’s Fables, in The Dark Talent. With friends or classmates, go to the library or online to find a definition of “fable” and some facts about Aesop and his literary legacy. Read several of Aesop’s fables and select one that you feel could be applied to a scene in the novel. Write a short essay explaining why you believe Sanderson wanted to incorporate the idea of fables into this novel, and how and where you would reference your selected fable within the book.

Literary Analysis: AUTHORSHIP

The Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series is narrated by the character Alcatraz Smedry, who claims to be using the pseudonym of “Hushlands” author Brandon Sanderson. With friends or classmates, discuss how this double-layered claim of authorship affects the reading of the book and/or the reader’s relationship with the narrator. Then individually, write a short essay interpreting the following quote by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Junot Diaz in terms of the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians novels you have read:

“…we all dream that there’s an authoritative voice out there that will explain things, including ourselves. If it wasn’t for our longing for these things, I doubt the novel or the short story would exist in its current form.”

English Language Arts Common Core Standards

RL.3.1-4, 4.1-4, 5.1-4, 6.1-4, 7.1-4

SL.3.3-4, 4.3-4, 5.3-4, 6.3-4, 7.3-4

W.3.1-3, 4.1-3, 5.1-3, 6.1-3, 7.1-3;

W3.7-8, 4.7-9, 5.7-9, 6.7-9, 7.7-9

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The Shattered Lens (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Series #4) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
SJKessel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sanderson, B. (2010). Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. New York: Scholastic Press.292 pages.Internetz, you have not been witness to it. But a great battle of wills was just averted. When my co-assistant and I learned that our boss was receiving an advance copy of the fourth book in the Alcatraz series, we went to war with one another. My boss's office was left in far from perfect condition. Her many books were tossed from their slumping shelves, torn to pieces. Shredded pages rained down like apocalyptic ash. Who would get to read the Alcatraz book first?! She was willing to skip classes to read it. I was willing to set aside Dudley the Dissertation for Alcatraz. Who would win?Perhaps some great power sensed that another war to end all wars was brewing. Perhaps somebody over at Scholastic can't read. But we were sent TWO COPIES of Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. One for each assistant. (Our boss doesn't get to read it. When we informed her of this, she took it surprisingly well.)Appetizer: The fourth book of Alcatraz's memoirs can be thought of as "the part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich." Alcatraz's words, not mine.War has broken out between the librarians and the free kingdom of Mokia. Alcatraz, his friends and family hope to send reinforcements. But the Knights and other kingdoms won't help. So it's up to Alcatraz and his friends to figure out a plan. There's just no guarantee that it'll be a good one. The resulting story involves a better understanding of the Smedry talents, meeting another Smedry cousin (this one is bad at math), lots of stoopidity and a nakey Alcatraz. (Naked, to you adult types.)Hilarious!I am SO amazed by Brandon Sanderson's ability to be consistently HILARIOUS throughout his children's books. I've tried to write funny in the past and it almost always ends painfully for me. And not in a humorous painful way with a bucket on my head and with boxers with little hearts exposed. Just painfully with me deciding to limp back into my serious (with moments of levity!) fiction.(Sidenote: Have you heard of Writing Excuses? Sanderson co-hosts regular fifteen-minute podcasts about various aspects of creative writing. The podcasts are essentially an awesome writing MFA program that you can listen to at your leisure for free. I highly recommend listening!)Where was I?Hilariousness-ness.The fourth Alcatraz book still had me chuckling. In this round, I especially liked Sanderson's approach to chapter titles. Some chapters are missing. (Gaps! The reader can fill them in! Funzies!) Others are titled according to some advanced math (Or advanced math for me. My brain stopped accounting for what those crazy numbers were doing after eighth grade.) Maybe the chapter titles are just nonsense. I wouldn't know the difference!My biggest complaint about the book is the cover. I know I'm not really the target audience, but I really don't like the photoshopped appearance. Especially since it seems like Bastille is in the exact same position on the covers of both the third and fourth books.Call me crazy, but I don't think that's the best stance for fighting a knight OR a giant robot. I guess I should just be impressed that they used the same models. Way to be cohesive!It is worth noting that this book ends with more problems left unresolved than the other books so far. It gave the book a "the end of The Empire Strikes Back" feel. To be concluded in the next installment. So, stay tuned!So now the wait for the fifth and final (*weeps*) book begins.Sigh.Dinner Conversation:"I am an idiot.You should know this already, if you've read the previous three volumes of my autobiography" (Author's Foreword)."So, there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand. It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile. Also, it was ticking" (p. 1)."We'd need to put someone in danger who is so valuable the knights have to respond. But this person also
MickyFine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the fourth book of the Alcatraz series, Alcatraz travels to Mokia to aid in the war the Free Kingdomers there are waging against the Evil Librarians. In the process, he'll learn more about the nature of Smedry Talents and the reason for the conflict between his Librarian mother and his father. Of course, silliness abounds as well.These books continue to serve their purpose as silly and fun, although this book is darker than previous entries. Alcatraz is grappling with serious issues of identity, the ramifications of his Talent, and begins to recognize that the conflict between Librarians and Free Kingdomers is not as black and white as he originally thought it was. I didn't find the running gag of this novel as amusing as previous ones (mostly because I love things to be spelled properly). However, I did enjoy the bizarre chapter numbering in this volume (my personal favourite being NCC 1701). The chapter where the characters only speak using dialogue from Hamlet is also pretty amusing, although it may go over the heads of the intended audience a little. And of course, there are jokes about librarians. This time around my favourite passage was the following:As you have probably noticed, Librarians don't conform to most people's stereotypes. Most of them don't even have stereos. Beyond that, they're not sweet, book-loving scholars; they're maniacal cultists bent on ruling the world. They don't like to shush people. (Unless it means quieting them permanently by sinking them in the bay with their feet tied to an iron shelving cart.) In fact, most Librarians I've seen are quite fond of loud explosions.A satisfying continuation of the series.
shadrach_anki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens is the fourth (and currently last) installment of the Alcatraz Smedry series. Brandon Sanderson ramped up the tension while still maintaining the lighthearted, humorous tone of the series. The reoccurring use of the word "stoopid" did get a little bit irritating at times, but each previous book in the series had some element or other designed for that purpose. Definitely hope that Brandon is able to write and publish the fifth book.
_Zoe_ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth of Sanderson's Alcatraz books, and I had quite enjoyed the series up to this point. It's silly light fantasy with some interesting world-building behind it. Unfortunately, this time I found that the attempted humour fell flat far too often and detracted significantly from the story. There was one recurrent "joke" that I absolutely couldn't stand; it wasn't funny the first time and it certainly wasn't funny the twentieth time. If I never see the word "stoopid" again, it will be too soon. Blech.There were admittedly some laugh-out-loud moments here, but they were sadly outnumbered by the idiotic moments of an unfunny joke continued far too long.That said, I'm definitely planning to read the fifth and final book of this series when it's eventually released. I really do like the world that Sanderson has created, and I want to know how the story ends. I just hope that the books will either become funny again or stop trying.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth book the Alcatraz Smedry series and it does a great job of continuing the story. Alcatraz has been in the Free Kingdoms for several months now, learning and training. Alcatraz and Bastille hear that their neighboring kingdom Mokia (who have been under Library attack for years) are finally about to fall. Hearing the horrible news and seeing the council and the knights waffling in indecision the Smedry's hatch a plan to lend aid to their sister country. One that the Knights of Crystalia will try to prevent.Alcatraz does quite a bit of growing up in this book. Primarily learning that things aren't black and white as well as decisions have consequences, frequently unforeseen ones at that. Though I think one of the most important lessons learned is that just because someone is your antagonist doesn't mean they are always wrong. Great book, lots of fun and while it's not up to the 1st two it's still a worthwhile read.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
In this book of the Alcatraz Smedry series, Alcatraz is off to Mokia to try to keep the librarians from adding that kingdom to the Hushlands. Along the way, he gets a few surprises about his family and his talent. Fans of the series will love this latest adventure. It's filled with humor and action like all the others and sets things up well for the long delayed but finally published fifth book in the series.
Skylinesend More than 1 year ago
A quirky and fun YA novel. I love it when an author doesn't take himself too seriously.
notstinky More than 1 year ago
Great story line. I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what age
nightowlbkworm More than 1 year ago
Alcatraz vs. The Shattered Lense is the fourth installment in the Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. For those of you who are fans of Sanderson, as am I, this series is written in a completely different style from his other works. Obviously, it is intended for a younger audience (middle schoolers.) Both of my two sons, ages 11 and 14, have enjoyed these books immensely, and the 4th book is no exception. These books are laugh out loud funny. What's more, seldom have my boys have interrupted themselves from a book simply because they had to share with me, "Mom, you gotta hear this!" While the books are truly hilarious, I do not believe that Sanderson wrote them just for entertainment. (I'm on to you, Mr. Sanderson!) As an educator, I recognize writing instruction when I see it, no matter how well disguised. For those of you who are also teachers, these books are "voice" on steroids. They are full of writer's craft and techniques, which Sanderson actually spares a paragraph or two discussing and/or analyzing later in each chapter. Yet his "lessons" are so witty and cleverly incorporated into the body of the text that his young readers remain blissfully unaware that they are his captive students. The Alcatraz series is a wonderful resource for teachers and parents who wish to provide young writers with high quality models. But even if you are less ambitious, and just looking for a little entertainment and escapism, these books are a riot!
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gothicrocker56 More than 1 year ago
this book is totally funny with its witty humor and joke craking narrator.this series is my favorite of all time i love it.
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c_turtle_reader More than 1 year ago
this is the next book in the series and i REALLY wanna read it!! I loved numbers 1, 2, and 3, and I don't know if i can wait until october for number 4!! they are funny (like the laugh-out-loud kind in the middle of class. It's not just dialogue, but the narrator's humor and storytelling) I haven't read the other books by this author, but i do know that they are pretty good, this series is 1st person and is really easy to follow along, just confusing to follow the plot, but that is pretty much the point: you get lost, but you love it anyway. So far i love the eccentric characters and i can't wait to read more about them!!