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About The Book

In the fourth installment of the New York Times bestselling Charlie Thorne series—which #1 New York Times bestselling author Chris Grabenstein called “a real page-burner”—Charlie searches for Isaac Newtons secret treasure across Europe and Australia.

Charlie Thorne is a genius. Charlie Thorne is fearless. Charlie Thorne may have finally met her match.

Charlie Thorne is used to being on the run. Ever since she was recruited by the CIA to track down Einstein’s most dangerous equation, Charlie and former CIA agents, Dante Garcia and Milana Moon, have traveled around the world to prevent history’s greatest discoveries from falling into the wrong hands. But after beating others to the secrets hidden by Einstein, Darwin, and Cleopatra, they find they are not the only ones searching for an immensely powerful discovery of Isaac Newton’s.

From a chase over the rooftops of Cambridge University to scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge to skirting a volcanic eruption, Charlie will need to think one step ahead of her opponents to follow Newton’s trail of devious clues and keep herself out of the hands of the many enemies who are hot on her tail.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society

By Stuart Gibbs

About the Book
Charlie Thorne is used to being on the run. Ever since she was recruited by the CIA to track down Einstein’s most dangerous equation, Charlie—and former CIA agents Dante Garcia and Milana Moon—have traveled around the world to prevent history’s greatest discoveries from falling into the wrong hands. But after beating others to the secrets hidden by Einstein, Darwin, and Cleopatra, they find they are not the only ones searching for an immensely powerful discovery of Isaac Newton’s. From a chase over the rooftops of Cambridge University to scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge to skirting a volcanic eruption, Charlie will need to think one step ahead of her opponents to follow Newton’s trail of devious clues and keep herself out of the hands of the many enemies who are hot on her tail.

Discussion Questions

1. In the prologue of Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, readers learn that Isaac Newton was terrified as he had discovered something that would put him in great danger from others seeking out him and this secret. In what ways does the opening scene set the stage for the events to follow?

2. In the novel, readers see Isaac Newton being told, “‘Mr. Newton, sir. You must leave at once.’” (Prologue) Why does this advice, given by a young scientist to Newton, seem so sage, given the circumstances that Newton finds himself in?

3. Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society shares the following Newton quote near the start of the novel, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” What do you believe Newton is saying about his understanding of science versus the behavior of other humans? How are these two different?

4. Author Stuart Gibbs includes an epigraph of a quote by John Maynard Keynes, who stated, “Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians.” Based on what you learned about Newton from your reading of Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, how do you interpret this passage? What makes this statement feel accurate or inaccurate to you?

5. In the novel, readers learn that Charlie, Dante, and Milana are utilizing the services of a professional forger to get the travel documents they need to move around the world as they try to discover the secrets Isaac Newton worked so hard to protect. What do these actions tell us about how challenging things are for them, based on what has transpired so far through their quests?

6. Charlie remembers the story of Newton being hit by an apple that sparked the aha moment that led him to develop the law of gravity. Have you ever experienced something that in turn sparked a great idea or left you with a learning opportunity? If so, what was it?

7. Charlie meets Kenji and is excited to interact briefly with someone her own age. Readers are reminded that she “had always been a social person, but when Dante and Milana had entered her life nearly a year earlier, Charlie had abruptly been cut off from her friends.” (Chapter five) Beyond the obvious danger Charlie has regularly faced, why is this isolation so challenging? How do you think you’d react in a similar situation?

8. Though Charlie is initially smitten with Kenji, she’s quickly disappointed and angered to learn he’s a foe that will stop at nothing to get what she seeks. Reflect on Charlie’s past adventures: Are there ways in which this adversary is different from anyone else she’s encountered thus far? Are there ways that these differences make this task harder for her?

9. Based on what you learn about Kenji in Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, describe him. What are the things that matter most to him? Though he is the grandson of a crime lord, does he live up to his grandfather’s expectations? Why or why not? Do you see his grandfather as a greater threat to Charlie? If so, in what ways?

10. How is Arthur Zell’s continued behavior toward his current and former agents and Charlie Thorne disturbing or even criminal? How were you surprised by his choices regarding the treatment of Charlie, Dante, and Milana? Give reasons why his actions deserve the consequences he receives.

11. Charlie discovers a piece of parchment that reads, “By order of the Royal Society, Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery has been deemed too powerful and dangerous to leave in this place, lest it fall into the wrong hands. To that end, it has been entrusted to the Honorable Captain James Cook, to take to the farthest ends of the earth, where it shall hopefully remain safe forever.” (Chapter nineteen) What does learning that the Royal Society went to such efforts to keep Newton’s discovery away from London and other civilized areas convey to readers about this secret?

12. In what way does what happens to Milana during her capture and after her escape give readers a better understanding of who she is and what she is capable of?

13. Before they explore the Great Barrier Reef to see if they can find what Cook left there, Charlie warns Dante to be careful, because “‘Basically, Australian wildlife can be split into two categories: cutest animals on the planet—or deadliest.’” (Chapter thirty) Given their task, why does this feel so problematic for them?

14. Of the places Charlie journeys to in Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, which would you most like to visit some day and why?

15. Throughout Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society and the other books in the Charlie Thorne series, Charlie has faced several formidable foes. In what ways are the entitled ultra-wealthy like Yoshi Yataro so problematic?

16. How do you believe the experience of meeting Isaac Newton impacts Charlie? What do you believe she learns from their brief time together?

17. Considering that Newton has lived hundreds of years, give examples of how you think he has likely changed throughout the centuries.

18. After Zell is placed under arrest and Charlie retrieves Newton’s vial from his pocket, she tells Khatti from the CIA that she’ll give her the vial if it’s used wisely and not auctioned to billionaires. “‘Give it to the National Institutes of Health, have them figure out how to use it to cure diseases.’” (Chapter forty-eight) From your perspective, why is Charlie’s insistence so important?

19. Charlie, along with her half-brother Dante Garcia and his partner, former CIA agent Milana Moon, has traveled around the world to prevent history’s greatest discoveries from falling into the wrong hands. Why are their efforts so important? Beyond the physical danger they’ve been placed in, what do you see as the greatest challenges for each of them? What are the personal costs they have each paid throughout the series? What does Charlie’s request of Khatti to wipe their records clean so they can go back to being normal citizens really mean for the pair?

20. After Charlie gives away the entire vial of Newton’s discovery, Dante declares, “‘You had the secret to immortality, and you just gave it away?’” (Chapter forty-eight) Why is her choice a surprising one? Do you believe she made the right decision? How does Charlie’s explanation of not wanting to outlive a possible future family put her choice in perspective?

21. Considering the conclusion of Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, what do you think this means for the future of Charlie’s adventures? If you were going to continue her story, what challenges might you have Charlie face?

Research Prompts and Activities for Charlie Thorne and The Royal Society

1. Charlie discovers evidence that Sir Isaac Newton has created a scientific formula that provides him with eternal life. While Newton’s story is fictionalized, use the following questions to discover more about ways in which the idea of what is often referred to as an elixir of life or an elixir of immortality has been sought after by countless people throughout history.

· What are the earliest historical references to such a potion or formula?

· In what countries are references to it found in stories and folklore?

· How is such a concoction usually described?

· What are some examples from contemporary art and entertainment?

After completing your research, share your new knowledge with peers.

2. Readers are introduced to Sir Isaac Newton’s work throughout the novel. Begin by watching this brief video: https://www.britannica.com/video/152179/Isaac-Newton-formulation-law-gravitation. Following the video viewing, read this selection from National Geographic for a further introduction:

https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/isaac-newton-who-he-was-why-apples-are-falling/ After reading, engage in a brief small group conversation about what you learned. Use the following prompt for a more targeted approach.

3. Isaac Newton is considered one of the most influential scientists to have lived. Using resources from the library and trusted internet sources, investigate more about the life and work of Newton, being sure to look closely at the following:

· When and where did he live?

· What were his most important discoveries?

· What were his goals as a scientist?

· How did his scientific contributions influence the rest of the world?

· What are other additional facts you found interesting?

After conducting your research, create and share a digital artifact that synthesizes the highlights of your findings.

4. At the beginning of the novel, readers follow along with Charlie, Dante, and Milana as they travel to Trinity College Cambridge to explore the Wren Library in hopes of finding something hidden there by Isaac Newton himself. Using library resources and the internet, research to learn more about the library at Trinity College Cambridge. Be sure to focus on:

· Where is Trinity College located and where is the Wren Library specifically?

· When was it designed and built?

· What is Sir Isaac Newton’s connection to this area and what were his contributions to the library?

· How did Wren and Newton work together for this project?

· What are the most impressive elements of this historic library?

· Which pieces of the collection are seen as the most valuable?

· How are conservation efforts for the collection handled?

After completing your research, share your newly discovered knowledge with peers via a presentation, or write a short essay about what you’ve learned.

5. While in the United Kingdom, Charlie, Milana, and Dante travel to London in hopes of gaining access to the crown jewels held in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. Both the collection and the tower itself are rich with history and fun facts. After doing a cursory search about either the Tower of London or the jewel collection, select one and dig deeper to make a personal fun fact sheet of the favorite things you learned.

6. Charlie searches for clues about Sir Isaac Newton left by Captain James Cook that take her to the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia, the capital of New South Wales and the largest city on the continent. Use the following questions and the library or trusted Internet resources to learn more about the city itself and what is offered there.

· Where in Australia is Sydney located?

· What size is the city?

· In addition to Harbour Bridge, what are some of the other reasons the city is so well known?

· If you could visit, what are the three things you’d want to see most?

After completing your research, share your new knowledge with peers. Consider breaking into small groups of two or three and focusing on one specific aspect of Sydney (culture, entertainment, history, etc.). Present your findings in a PowerPoint or video.

7. In Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, readers travel with Charlie to visit the Great Barrier Reef in hopes of discovering secrets kept for Newton by Captain James Cook. Present the following question: What exactly is the Great Barrier Reef? Begin to gather answers by watching National Geographic’s documentary, “The Great Barrier Reef” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmb2Anx2QDg. While viewing, also research the following questions:

· Where is it located?

· What is its size?

· Approximately how many visitors does it get annually?

· Why is this area and the wildlife it supports so important to Australia and the world?

· What are the greatest challenges to it?

· What conservation efforts are in place to preserve it?

Next, read the following piece from the National Museum Australia about Captain James Cook’s connection to the area: https://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/endeavour-voyage/endeavour-reef while considering the following questions: What is Captain Cook’s connection to this area? What other interesting facts did you discover?

8. Captain James Cook is often considered one of the most important explorers and cartographers and a real leader in an age of exploration. Using resources from the library and the internet, investigate the life and work of Captain Cook, being sure to look closely at the following:

· When and where did Cook live?

· What was his educational background?

· How did he become a member of the Royal Society?

· What were his most important contributions?

· What are some additional facts you found interesting?

After gathering what you learn, watch the History.com video about his fateful time in Hawaii: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/captain-cook-killed-in-hawaii.

After conducting your research, create and share a digital artifact that synthesizes the highlights of your findings.

9. Throughout the adventures of Charlie Thorne and the Royal Society, Charlie’s mission is to locate and capture Newton’s secret discovery before it falls into the wrong hands. Working as a team, create a map of Charlie’s whereabouts throughout the book, mapping all the locations she visits. Calculate the distances she travels from destination to destination and estimate the length of time it takes to get from point A to point B. If you could take a similar journey, would you? Upon completion, pair up with another group, compare your findings, and engage in a discussion about embarking on a similar adventure.

This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an associate professor at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. For more Simon & Schuster guides and classroom materials, please visit simonandschuster.net or TheBookPantry.net.

About The Author

Photograph by Dashiell Gibbs

Stuart Gibbs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Thorne series, FunJungle series, Moon Base Alpha series, Once Upon a Tim series, and Spy School series. He has written screenplays, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows, been a newspaper columnist, and researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents). Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he’s up to at StuartGibbs.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 23, 2024)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665934916
  • Ages: 10 - 99

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