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A Reading Group Guide to The Brixen Witch
By Stacy DeKeyser About the Book
When Rudi Bauer accidentally takes a witch’s coin, he unleashes her curse. Accident or not, he knows he’s got to fix things, so he tries to return the coin, only to lose it on the witch’s mountain just as the snows come. Plagued all winter by terrible dreams, Rudi tries to find the coin again in the spring, but it has vanished—and a plague of rats has descended on his village.
Then a stranger arrives and promises to rid the village of the rats—for the price of the missing coin. Desperate to get rid of the rats, the villagers agree, but when they cannot pay, the stranger exacts a price too terrible for anyone to bear. Now Rudi is going to need all his courage—and some help from his savvy grandmother and a bold young girl—to set things right in this fast and funny adventure. Prereading
What type of story do you think this will be? Why? What elements do you think make the best stories? Discussion Questions
1. Do you think Oma knows about the gold coin or not? What clues do you have that she does or does not?
2. Why must Rudi leave as soon as possible? Explain the effects of his decision to leave the trail.
3. Describe spring in Brixen. What is seen that’s bad luck? Do you believe in superstitions such as these?
4. Why did the villagers decide to hire Herbert Wenzel the rat catcher? What will the results of this prove to Oma and Rudi?
5. Why can’t the rat catcher promise to get rid of every single rat? Why is this a concern? Explain why you would or would not be willing to help the rat catcher.
6. Do you agree with Rudi’s assertion that neither young people nor old people are afraid of the truth? Why?
7. Why is Oma not convinced that the witch had anything to do with the return of the rats? Would you feel responsible if you were Rudi? What would you do about it?
8. Why does Rudi feel the need to speak in front of the whole village? What clues tell you who the stranger is? Will the town use the stranger to rid itself of the rats?
9. What does Rudi find on the mountain? Why would the coin want to be found? If Rudi can find the golden guilder, what will he do with it?
10. What does Rudi hear on the mountain? Does it help him find the gold coin?
11. What does Rudi learn from the witch? What does the witch learn from him? Will Rudi talk of his visit with others in the village or not? Why?
12. Why is it so unlucky to talk about the witch? How is she important to the village? Do people always need someone to blame for their troubles? What will Rudi do next? If he tells anyone about what he’s learned, who do you think it would be? Why?
13. How will Rudi lure the servant? What will he use? What must he never do?
14. Describe what happened so far with the plan. Why did Rudi tell Susanna Louisa to take all the things from the cave?
15. List the steps Rudi and the children took to gain their freedom. How does Rudi use the servant’s indecision against him? Will Rudi ever see the witch again? Will he one day tell his own children about her?
16. How did Rudi change as a person from the beginning of the story? Do you think Rudi will ever face troubles with the witch or her servant again? Guide written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, author and English teacher.
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.