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The Gypsy Game

Written by Zilpha Keatley SnyderAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

· Yearling
· Trade Paperback · Ages 8-12 years
· September 8, 1998 · $7.99 · 978-0-440-41258-8 (0-440-41258-7)

The Gypsy Game
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The kids from The Egypt Game are back, and they're ready to play a new game--Gypsies. In The Gypsy Game, when April and Melanie present their new game to the gang they discover an intriguing fact: their friend Toby Alvillar claims to be "a real, live, authentic Gypsy." As the friends develop their new game, Toby becomes distant and strange. Then one day, Toby disappears and the group is on a search that leads them toward a new understanding of family and friendship.


Raised in California, in the country--with no television and few movies to watch--three-time Newbery Honor winner Zilpha Keatley Snyder filled her childhood with animals, games, and books. Among her earliest acquaintances were cows, goats, ducks, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, and horses. In fact, her family's animals were her closest friends, and a nearby library was a constant source of magic, adventure, and excitement for her. And when she wasn't reading or playing with animals, Snyder made up games and stories to entertain herself.

While Zilpha Keatley Snyder was growing up, interesting stories filled her household. Both of her parents spent a lot of time relating accounts of past events in their lives, so Snyder came by her storytelling instincts early. But unlike her parents, when Zilpha had something to tell, she had, as she says, "an irresistible urge to make it worth telling. And without the rich and rather lengthy past that my parents had to draw on, I was forced to rely on the one commodity of which I had an adequate supply--imagination." Consequently, at the age of eight, Zilpha Keatley Snyder decided to become a writer.


Pre-Reading Activity

The Egypt Game and The Gypsy Game depict a special friendship that develops among six diverse characters. Ask students to write a journal entry about one of their friends who is most unlike them. What makes their friendship special? Encourage them to share their writing with the class.

Thematic Connections

In many friendships, one person emerges as the leader. Trace the friendship that develops between Melanie and April as they engage in the games of "Egypt" and "Gypsy." Which girl appears to be the leader?

There are several characters who feel abandoned by friends and family. In The Egypt Game, April feels that her mother abandons her when she sends her to live with her grandmother. In The Gypsy Game, Toby's security is threatened when his maternal grandparents try to take him from his father. Ask students to compare and contrast the way April and Toby deal with their feelings of insecurity and abandonment. Describe how each of the following characters may also feel abandoned: the Professor in The Egypt Game; Garbo in The Gypsy Game; Bruno, the dog in The Gypsy Game.

Family and Relationships
Melanie, Marshall, and Ken are the only characters in the novels who live in a traditional family. At what point does April begin to accept that she and her grandmother are a family in The Egypt Game? How does their relationship grow in The Gypsy Game? Ask students to make a special Mother's Day card that April might give to her grandmother.

Toby feels a special bond with his father despite their unusual life-style. This is especially evident in The Gypsy Game. Describe their relationship. How does Toby's father demonstrate his love for Toby? Ask students to write a letter that Toby might write to his grandparents stating why he wants to live with his father.

Ethical Dilemmas
Toby's father places the children in an "ethical dilemma" when he comes to the Gypsy Camp and asks them about Toby's whereabouts. What is an ethical dilemma? How do the children finally solve their quandary? Engage the class in a discussion about the predicaments that today's teenagers face. How can peer pressure place a person in an ethical dilemma? In what situations might it be okay to break a promise to a friend?

A Sense of Community
The "Egypt" and "Gypsy" games provide the children with a sense of community and teamwork. How does the neighborhood surrounding the Casa Rosada rally behind the Professor? How do the children use their "Gypsy Game" to help Toby? How does finding Toby lead the children toward serving the homeless in their community?

Interdisciplinary Connections

Social Studies
April and her friends conduct research about Egyptians and Gypsies before engaging in their games. Ask the class to name other ancient cultures that they have studied, such as the Incas and Aztecs, and the ancient Babylonians, Chinese, and Greeks. Divide the class into groups, allowing each to select one culture to research the facts needed to create a new game. After the groups share their research with the class, ask which of the cultures researched would most likely interest April and Melanie and why.

Toby's grandparents were Gypsies, belonging to the Rom tribe. Ask students to research the culture of the Roms and describe how they made a living, their family structure, laws, religion, and language. Students may gain insight into the Roms by researching the Irish Travelers who live in South Carolina today.

When Toby is on the run in The Gypsy Game he encounters some homeless people. Garbo tells him about one man who died in the basement of the boarded-up church. Invite someone from your community who deals with homeless people to speak to the class. Ask them to discuss the most common health threats to homeless people. What agencies in your town or city are trying to help the homeless?

Teaching ideas prepared by Pat Scales, director of library services, The South Carolina Governor's School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina.


*"[ The Gypsy Game ] continues to offer Snyder's well-nigh irresistible combination of suspense, wit and avowal of the imagination."
--Starred, Publishers Weekly

"Readers who thrilled to the magic and mystery of the costumes, ceremonies, and pharaoh's curses in The Egypt Game will find themselves drawn to and intrigued by the jewelry, colorful clothes, and fortune-telling in this adventure."
-- The Horn Book

"The characters, plot, and setting are realistic and kids should find this mystery of why Toby ran away to be a page-turner."
-- Children's Literature


Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White[0-440-41372-9]
The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto[0-440-41446-6]
Gib Rides Home by Zilpha K. Snyder[0-385-32267-4]
Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff[0-440-41453-9]
Monkey Island by Paula Fox[0-440-40770-2]



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