Excerpted from The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux; adapted by Kate McMullan; illustrated by Paul Jennis. Copyright © 2002 by Gaston Leroux. Excerpted by permission of Random House Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
"After college and graduate school, I taught fourth grade in a Los Angeles inner-city school and on an American Air Force base in Germany. I read to my students every day after lunch, and in time, I started to wonder if I could write books for kids. I tried, but after a day of teaching, I had very little energy left for writing. So I moved to New york, where I'd heard that writers lived, and took a job in publishing, which was much less tiring than teaching.
"I edited by day and wrote by night. Well, not every night. Some nights I went out on the town with Jim McMullan, a wonderful illustrator. On our first date, he looked through my book shelves and pulled out three books with Jim McMullan covers. I was hooked. In 1979, we were married.
"I kept reading. When our daughter was born, I read to her endlessly. One hot summer we kept cool curled up on an old couch on the porch with Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter.
"I kept writing, too. After a decade of my badgering him, Jim finally agreed to illustrate one of my stories. We both found that we loved collaborating. Two of our books, Nutcracker Noel and Hey, Pipsqueak! were voted among the New York Times Ten Best Picture Books of the Year. No No Jo! was featured on NBC's "The Today Show" and introduces Jo, the world's most helpful kitten. This spring will see the publication of our sixth book, Papa's Song.
"In addition to writing, I teach at New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and am on the faculty of the New School's MFA Writing Program. And I visit schools as often as I can. Kids always ask me how many books I've written. I think it's about seventy-five now, which seems pretty surprising for someone who set out to be a reader."
Kate McMullan, a.k.a. K.H. McMullan and Katy Hall, taught elementary school in inner-city Los Angeles and on an American Air Force base in Germany. After earning a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education, she decided to try her hand at writing, and settled in New York City. Twenty-five years later, she has more than fifty children's books to her credit.
As Katy Hall, she and Lisa Eisenberg have written dozens of silly easy-to-read riddle books. As K.H. McMullan, she has created the zany world of Dragon Slayers' Academy.
McMullan says, "When I visit schools, I hold writing workshops and encourage kids to write about their own lives, about what they know. Sometimes a bright kid will ask, 'But you write the Dragon Slayers' Academy books. What do you know about life in a medieval boys' school?' Great question. When I write about Wiglaf, I think back to my grade school days; the cafeteria meatloaf, the torture of rope climbing in gym class, and the teachers who used to go off on tangents that were often much more interesting than what we were supposed to be studying. Almost every character in Dragon Slayers' Academy is loosely based on someone I've met, from my second- grade best friend to my daughter's orthodontist."
McMullan's books have been named The New York Times Best Picture Books of the Year, have appeared on state library award lists, and have received the Parents' Choice Award. She and her husband, noted illustrator, Jim McMullan, live in New York City and Sag Harbor with their daughter and their cats, George and Wendy.
copyright ? 2000 Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
1. 1. Some modern critics feel the characters in The Phantom of the Opera are static and shallow, that Christine is too innocent, Raoul too noble, and Erik’s obsession with Christine never fully explained. Do you think Leroux purposely did this, and if so, why?
2. 2. The Phantom of the Opera was published as the romantic movement was slowly turning into the gothic movement. How would you classify it?
3. 3. Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera in a time when there was widespread French interest in Freudian psychoanalysis and particularly the libidinal/infantile/mother-seeking unconscious. How does Leroux work this into his novel? Are there characters that fit the infant or mother role?
4. 4. Some critics see the Phantom as simply the unconscious, the Freudian superego. Do you believe this is what Leroux was truly writing about, or did he give his monster more depth?
5. 5. Some see Erik as not shifting his class status, the theme of many gothic novels, but instead shifting his race. What scenes in the text help, or hinder, this assessment? Why would Leroux write of something so controversial?
6. 6. One of Leroux’s major themes in this novel is the changing of one’s class. Consider Christine, the daughter of a fairground fiddle player, now besting the most talented opera singer in Paris and winning the heart of a viscount. What is Leroux saying here? Is it meant to simply be a happy ending?