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November 3, 2008

The Golden Compass

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The Golden Compass

Author: Philip Pullman

Page Length: 351

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy     

PLOT SUMMARY: The story begins when Lyra Belacquat, a 12 –year-old girl, living at Jordan College, in Oxford secretly enters and hides in the “Retiring Room” and discovers the master is trying to poison Lord Asriel.  Lyra, and all the residents of Oxford, each have their own daemon, an animal-formed, manifestation of their soul.  Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon, advised her not to enter the room. Lyra warns Lord Asriel about the attempted poisoning and Lord Asriel leaves and travels to the North Arctic. As children begin disappearing from the town, Lyra vows to find out where they are being taken.  When the master learns of this, he gives Lyra a sacred object, an alethiometer.  He also agrees for Mrs. Coulter, head of the General Oblation Board, to take Lyra to live with her.  Lyra learns that Mrs. Coulter and the GOB are the ones responsible for the kidnapping of the children. Lyra runs away from Mrs. Coulter and joins a group of nomads. They  help her engage an armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison, who aids her in  the  search for the children and to eventually find Lord Asriel in the North.

 REVIEW: This book of Lyra’s journey to discover why the “grown-ups” in the story are kidnapping children is an adventure filled with fantasy and imagination.  The armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison, has a well-developed character, as does, Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon.  Those who enjoyed the Hobbit trilogy and the Harry Potter series would also like The Golden Compass, the first in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy.  The movie website is interesting. You can take a test and have your own daemon assigned to you.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Vocabulary- daemon, naphtha (p. 39), malodorous (p. 39), brantwign (p. 42), basilisk (p. 43), zeppelin, alethiometer (p.65), macaw (p.78), lorgnette, Theme, Character

RELATED BOOKS: The Subtle Knife, Book ll, The Amber Spyglass, Book III

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: The Golden Compass (2007)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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