The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks Back to April Menu

Notes for
The Dark Frigate
by Charles Boardman Hawes

[Lit Index]

Ex #1 AK FiB -  L1.8 Vocab
Ex #2 AK - WB Comine
Ex #3 AK  G6  L5.8 N Abs

     The Dark Frigate was one of my first choices for a literary selection because it is on the the "Kindergarten through Grade 6" list of "Timeless Classics" at KidSource On-Line. The source of that list is the National Endowment for the Humanities. The book won a Newbery Medal in 1924 and is listed on Eduscapes' "Literature Learning Ladders." You can buy the book (or read the reviews) at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

     I still haven't read much literature for children, but I have the sense that the syntax in this work is more complicated than the average for sixth graders. I couldn't settle on one passage, so I chose three. The first is from Chapter IV ("The Girl at the Inn"). It describes Philip Marsham's arrival at the inn, where he meets the girl he dreams about throughout most of the rest of the book. Instead of the analysis exercise, you might want to use the Fill-in-the- Blanks (with finite verbs or finite verb phrases). The objective here is to have the students discuss the verbs they used in order to get some sense of how different verbs add to the strength of the passage. (Some verbs are just more effective than others.) One thing to note, in the subjects and verbs, is the focus on a variety of people, all of whom appear to be happily and purposely busy. (Philip has been feeling rather lonely.) Although this passage was put here as an exercise in identifying S/V/C patterns, it can also be used at later levels, particularly as a challenging exercise on clauses.
    The second passage may be more interesting to boys. It describes the pirates first attempt to capture a ship after they take over the Rose of Devon. I put a note regarding style in the notes about subordinate clauses. You may find my comment there more convincing if you have the class do the sentence-combining exercise.
     The third passage presents Marsham's thoughts as he sits as a prisoner, bound in the hold of the British naval vessel. That vessel has hidden its guns and appears to be a defenseless merchant ship, in the hope that the pirates will attack it. Although I have made a sentence-combining for this passage, I think students will learn more about sentence structure if they try to decombine the sentences in the original to themselves make a combining exercise. As one struggles to break the sentences in the original apart, one sees how complex sentences convey meaning that simple ones cannot.