NEW PRODUCTS: Parallel Texts for Classic Short Stories

Are you intersted in trying out a parallel text without committing to a whole novel? You’re in luck! In addition to continuing to develop our bridge and parallel text versions of Classic novels, we have been working on developing parallel texts for Classic short stories. They have been added to our product page. (Check out our previous blog post outlining methods for reading a parallel text.) Here are the recently-added texts:

The Tell-Tale Heart

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is a well-known horror short story. The story takes us inside the mind of a madman as he attempts to convince us of how sane (and even ingenious) he actually is. This is a great short story to choose if you want one that exemplifies an unreliable narrator, suspense, or literary elements like onomatopoeia and repetition.

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Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment

“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne falls more into the science fiction realm. Dr. Heidegger is known for his crazy experiments, and he invites a few friends to participate in his most recent experiment. This experiment gives them the opportunity to relive their past in a way, but will they still make the same mistakes that they made in their youth over again? This story is great for focusing on theme, foreshadowing, and symbolism.

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The Monkey’s Paw

“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs could be considered more of a horror-fantasy story. In the story, a family acquires a monkey’s paw, which supposedly grants three wishes. But these wishes come at a great cost. This story would be a great pick if you want to focus on inferring, predicting, and cause-and-effect. Plus, fun fact, there is an allusion to it (technically more than one) in the movie Wonder Woman 1984.

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Click below and enter your email to get a FREE parallel text version of one of the short stories listed above!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Ten – Fun Fact

Why do we move our hand when we touch a hot stove? Why do we throw up our hand when something is thrown in our direction? The Fun Fact that we explore for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 10 focuses on…


In Chapter 10, Mrs. Canty develops a test to check whether or not the boy in her house is truly her son. It involves testing a long-term reflex that she seen Tom perform over and over again. This naturally led us to wonder, how those reflexes are formed. Keep reading or watch the video for more information on reflexes.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“‘Since that day, when he was little, that the powder burst in his face, he hath never been startled of a sudden out of his dreams or out of his thinkings, but he hath cast his hand before his eyes, even as he did that day; and not as others would do it, with the palm inward, but always with the palm turned outward—I have seen it a hundred times, and it hath never varied nor ever failed. Yes, I shall soon know, now!’” (p. 49)

Mrs. Canty tries to wake “Tom” a number of times throughout to the evening to carry out this test. Obviously, as it is not Tom, he never exhibits the reflex she is looking for. This causes her great distress.

What are reflexes?

Reflexes are involuntary actions your body does in response for something. We are born with many of them, or they develop naturally as we age. Many of those reflexes involve protective movements, such as removing a hand from a hot stove, blinking, and raising an arm if something is thrown at you. Many reflexes start at the muscle or skin and go to the spinal cord.

Our Earliest Reflexes

  • Rooting reflex – turning head and opening mouth to find source of milk 
  • Suck reflex – when the roof of a baby’s mouth is touched, they begin to suck 
  • Moro reflex – “startle reflex”
  • Tonic neck reflex – “fencing position”
  • Grasp reflex – closing fingers
  • Stepping reflex – “walking/dance reflex”

What makes you flinch?

All animals flinch when they feel threatened. In tests on monkeys, they have studied how the brain reacts when they flinched. They found that the most active part of the brain is a “polysensory zone”. The experiment was conducted using mild puffs of air at the monkey’s faces. The monkeys were also given drugs that either increased or decreased brain activity in the sensory zones.

There were a few findings. First they found that there were two phases to flinching. Part one was the initial startled reaction. Part two was a longer defensive response. The drugs that reduced brain activity only affected the second part of the flinch. This shows that the polysensory zone affects the muscle response to a stimuli. And this area is responsible for reacting to, or flinching at, objects suddenly approaching the body.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Ten – Historical Tidbit

Chapter 10 of The Prince and the Pauper contains a reference that has been fairly foreign to any of my students who have encountered it. It is a plot device used to allow Edward to escape from John Canty. Though Mark Twain explains it in more detail than most of his historical references, it can still leave people somewhat confused as to what he is talking about. Today’s Historical Tidbit focuses on….


The shape of a loving cup is also the inspiration for many modern trophies. Keep reading or watch the video below to explore this odd tradition.

As stated earlier, Chapter 10 features a bold escape by Edward. He is being held captive by John Canty (who thinks he is Tom) and is being to forced to flee through the streets with him. A stranger steps in and slows him down, leading to the scene below:

“‘The loving-cup, the loving-cup! make the sour knave drink the loving-cup, else will we feed him to the fishes.’

So a huge loving-cup was brought; the waterman, grasping it by one of its handles, and with the other hand bearing up the end of an imaginary napkin, presented it in due and ancient form to Canty, who had to grasp the opposite handle with one of his hands and take off the lid with the other, according to ancient custom.” (p. 52)

What is a Loving Cup?

  • Date back to the 15th century
  • Made of silver (often)
  • Two large handles
  • Gets passed from person to person (symbolizing friendship and unity)
  • Passed around banquets and used for toasts
  • Some couples still use this tradition at weddings

Loving Cup History

Parts of the loving-cup ceremony can date back to the assassination of the Anglo-Saxon King Edward in 978. His stepmother plotted his death so her son could become king. Supposedly he was stabbed in the back while drinking from a goblet of welcome with two hands. As a result, now the back of the drinker is guarded by the person next to them.

Cup-Shaped Trophies

Stanley Cup (NHL- Hockey)

Davis Cup (Tennis)

Davis Cup (Tennis)

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Ten – Vocabulary

Throughout The Prince and the Pauper, both Tom and Edward find themselves on literal and figurative journeys to get back to their old lives. So naturally, certain words that are synonymous with “path”, “track”, and “journey” come up many times throughout the story. Today our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 10 is…


Keep reading or watch the video below for more information about the word ‘course’.



(n) the act or action of moving in a path from point to point

Can be literal or metaphorical

race course
golf course



  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “cursus” a running; a journey; direction, track navigated by a ship; flow of a stream
  • “curs-” past participle stem of currere “to run”
  • Language of Origin: Old French
  • “cors” course; run, running; flow of a river

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The race course was marked with ribbons tied around trees.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “Therefore there was but one course to pursue—find his way to the Guildhall, make himself known, and denounce the impostor.” (p. 53)
  • Other forms: of course (adv.), courses, course (v)

But wait, there’s more!

Where did the idea for obstacle courses come from?

  • Originally started in the military – to build better soldiers
  • Date back to antiquity
  • Fitness picked up popularity in Europe in the 19th century
  • Georges Herbert (France) developed un parcours (early obstacle courses) at the turn of the 20th century

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Theoretical Prince and the Pauper Character Playlists

You can really tell a lot about someone by reading through their playlists. This led me to think about what sort of songs might appear on the playlists of our main characters in The Prince and the Pauper if they were alive today. These playlists span the range of emotions the characters may have felt so far in the story. Enjoy!

Tom’s Playlist

  • “If I Were a Rich Man” – Fiddler on the Roof
  • “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” – Hank Williams
  • “I’m Not Crazy” – Matchbox 20
  • “Royals” – Lorde
  • “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
  • “I Don’t Wanna Be” – Gavin DeGraw
  • “Two Princes” – Spin Doctors
  • “Mo Money, Mo Problems” – The Notorious B.I.G.
  • “You Are Not My Father” by Bad Candy

Edward’s Playlist

  • “Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
  • “Your Time is Gonna Come” – Led Zeppelin
  • “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” – Lion King
  • “Home” – Daughtry
  • “Tubthumper” – Chumbawamba
  • “Stronger” (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
  • “The Twins Song” – The Wiggles
  • “Kings & Queens” – Mat Kearney

John Canty’s Playlist (coincidentally…also Henry VIII’s Playlist)

  • “Sorry Not Sorry” – Demi Lovato
  • “Money (That’s What I Want)” – Barrett Strong
  • “Roar” – Katy Perry
  • “Don’t Mess With Me” – Temposhark
  • “Crazy Kids” – Kesha

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nine – Fun Fact

Wearing real animal fur is definitely a controversial topic. Personally, as someone who lives in an area with cold winters, I have never felt the need to wear fur. There are plenty of other warm fabrics that can be worn instead. But there is one group of people who historically have not shied away from wearing fur, and one type of fur in particular. The Fun Fact that we explore for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 9 is…


Ermine is a specific type of fur that is often associated with royal families, and is mentioned in The Prince and the Pauper. If you are not already familiar with it, you will probably recognize the pattern when you see an image of it. Keep reading, or watch the video below, for a crash course on ermine!

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“He was ‘magnificently habited in a doublet of white satin, with a front-piece of purple cloth-of-tissue, powdered with diamonds, and edged with ermine.” (p. 44)

This is part of the description of Tom, standing in fine royal clothes, and finally starting to fit the part of a prince.

What is ermine?

Ermine (Mustela erminea) looks similar to a small rodent like a weasel. They can also be called stoat, short-tailed weasel, or Bonaparte weasel. The term ‘ermine’ is especially used in winter in places with colder climates. During this time of year, the coat of the ermine turns pure white with a black tail tip. In summer, their coat will turn brown. This change in fur color helps with camouflage.

Ermine can be found all across North America and Eurasia. They live mostly in thickets, woodlands, and wooded areas. Since they live in abundance, it is not necessarily hard to catch them and collect their furs. However, as they are so small, it takes many animals to create a fur large enough to be worn, especially one that meets the standards for royalty.

Why was it popular with royals?

Supposedly it first became associated with royals because of a symbolic legend. This legend stated that an ermine would “rather die than be defiled/soiled” (which is often seen in the original Latin wording). Therefore, ermine fur represents moral purity to the royals. They also enjoyed the fine texture and pur color of the fur. Edward III was the first to restrict ermine to members of the royal family.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nine – Historical Tidbit

If you were to represent The Prince and the Pauper using a pie chart based on the topics discussed by Mark Twain, descriptions of clothing would take up a large portion of that chart. If you did the same thing for Chapter 9, it would take up the large majority. Mark Twain looooves describing what people are wearing. So for that reason, our Historical Tidbit for today is, of course….


Words like doublet, stockings, mantle, cloth-of-gold, and so many more clothing-related terms come up frequently throughout the story. So let’s explore these fashions a little further. Keep reading or watch the video below to get a look at Tudor fashions.

As stated earlier, Chapter 9 shows multiple moments where clothing is described. Below is one specific example of what Tom is wearing:

“He [Tom] was ‘magnificently habited in a doublet of white satin, with a front-piece of purple cloth-of-tissue, powdered with diamonds, and edged with ermine. Over this he wore a mantle of white cloth-of-gold, pounced with the triple-feathered crest, lined with blue satin, set with pearls and precious stones, and fastened with a clasp of brilliants. About his neck hung the order of the Garter, and several princely foreign orders;’ and wherever light fell upon him jewels responded with a blinding flash..”(p. 44)

What was the formal style for men?

What was the formal style for women?

Other notable clothing items


  • Caps decorated with badges, ribbons, and feathers
  • Slashed sleeves (revealing another fabric underneath)
  • Codpiece


  • Petticoats
  • Parlet (worn over corset)
  • Kirtle (underskirt)
  • Bumroll (padding around hips)
  • Leather shoes/boots
  • Silk/velvet slip-on shoes for indoor use

Tudor Sumptuary Laws

On the subject of royal fashions, it is also important to bring up the sumptuary laws. The word ‘sumptuary’ derives from the Latin ‘expenditure’. These laws were originally put into place during the reign of Edward the III (The Prince and the Pauper features Edward VI), and they applied to food, drink, furniture, jewelry, clothes, etc. These laws specific which nobles were allowed to wear certain clothing, fabric, and colors. These laws included, among other things, rules that only royals could wear purple, cloth of gold, and ermine. The penalty for breaking these lawas could be fines, or loss of property, title, or even life.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nine – Vocabulary

Have you ever used a phrase like “the vast majority” or have heard something like “In a vast desert like the Sahara…”? Sometimes we start using these common phrases, without necessarily thinking about what the individual words mean. Let’s break it down! Today our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 9 is…


Mark Twain’s wonderful descriptive skills often create a picture in the reader’s mind of a number of different scenes from Tudor England. When describing facades, crowds, banquet halls, and other items related to royal life at the time, there is often no better way to describe them but “vast”. Keep reading or watch the video below to dive into this word.



(adj) very great in size, amount, extent/range

Often used before the word ‘majority’ modern day




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “vastus” meaning immense, extensive, huge; desolate, unoccupied, empty

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The astronauts in the space station stared down at the vast surface of Earth below.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “At nine in the evening the whole vast river-front of the palace was blazing with light.” (p. 42)
  • Other forms: vastly (adv.), vastness (n.)

But wait, there’s more!

How vast is space?

How many stars are in the sky? 100 thousand million in the Milky Way galaxy alone

How big is the (observable) universe? 93 billion light years (Going the speed of the fastest manmade object ever, it would take 4269 years to travel the distance of ONE light year)

How big is the sun? One million Earths could fit inside the sun

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The Prince and the Pauper Mad Lib

How are your grammar skills? Do you remember all your parts of speech? Mad libs are a great way to brush up on some of those skills, while having a little fun. We’ve created a Prince and the Pauper themed mad lib based on Chapter 1 – The Birth of the Prince and the Pauper.

Include your email below and fill in the form based on the descriptions listed next to each box. Then click the “Submit” button and your completed mad lib will be sent to your inbox! Enjoy!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eight – Fun Fact

Have you ever had a dream that appeared to tell the future? How about one that foreshadowed someone’s death? In Chapter 8, Henry VIII has a “troublous dream” that he interprets as on omen for his own passing. So is that possible? Do our dreams possess the capability to anticipate future events? The Fun Fact that we explore for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 8 is…

Can dreams predict death?

What a powerful and terrifying idea! Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“About five o’clock Henry VIII. awoke out of an unrefreshing nap, and muttered to himself, ‘Troublous dreams, troublous dreams! Mine end is now at hand:  so say these warnings, and my failing pulses do confirm it.’”  (p. 39)

This scene shows Henry waking up and sensing, both from his dreams and his weak pulse, that his end is near. We also see him losing his strength at multiple points throughout this chapter. And spoiler alert: he’s not wrong; he only has a limited time left to live.

Can dreams predict the future?

Dreams that predict the future are referred to as “precognitive dreams”. Supposedly they are dreams that give you information about the future you wouldn’t otherwise have. If you are like me, your mind automatically goes to the movie Minority Report and the “precogs”. But I digress. At this point, there is no scientific evidence that precognitive dreams exist.

However, there is research that suggests that up to a third of people have reported some type of precognitive experience. Some studies say that these numbers could be even higher. Some studies suggest that this could be caused by selective recall, meaning that we remember more of the events in our life that match up with events that happened in our dreams. Other explanations could be that they are caused by association of unrelated events, coincidence, or subconscious connections.

Can dreams predict death?

A researcher named Dr. Andrew Paquette studied this very question. From 1989-2014, he recorded the events of 11,779 of his dreams. Then he published an anlysis of these dreams in 2015, specifically focusing on those that were death-related. He had a total of 87 death-related dreams that featured 50 identifiable people.

By the time he did the study, 12 of the 50 identifiable people in his death-related dreams were already dead (24%). He also found that the date of these death-related dreams about the people who had died generally happened closer to their death dates than other non-death-related dreams about them. One of his dreams actually happened the same day the person died, and he claims he woke up certain that morning that that person had died!

Though these results are certainly very interesting to examine, there is still not any solid evidence that our dreams can predict the future, let alone death.

Signs of Death in Dreams

Despite having no significant evidence of the predictive power of our dreams, there are still a large number of people that place a lot of emphasis on dream omens. Here are a few omens that supposedly can signify death in dreams:

  1. Black
  2. Snakes
  3. Black cats
  4. Falling teeth
  5. Black bird
  6. Nursing baby
  7. Saving a drowning man
  8. Travel plans
  9. Repetitive nightmares
  10. Singing and dancing
  11. Drinking alone

If you’ve experienced any of these omens (I know I have!) I wouldn’t read too much into it. But it certainly is interesting to thing about!

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