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About The Book

Now with a reimagined look! Set sail to Atlantis with Tim and his friends in the laugh-out-loud funny, highly illustrated fourth book of the New York Times bestselling Once Upon a Tim chapter book series from Spy School author Stuart Gibbs.

Tim and his ragtag crew have been rescued from certain doom by a mermaid princess—but now, she wants something in return for saving their lives: her father King Neptuna’s stolen trident.

To pay their debt, Tim, Belinda, Ferkle, Rover, and Princess Grace once again brave the Sea of Terror to track down the trident in the glorious city of Atlantis, which hasn’t sunk into the sea yet. (In fact, it is famed as the safest city on earth.) But there is plenty of danger en route—and the notorious Prince Ruprecht is lurking about as well. Can the junior knights evade the scheming royal and complete their quest?

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Once Upon a Tim #4:

The Quest of Danger

By Stuart Gibbs

Illustrated by Stacy Curtis

About the Book

Tim and his ragtag crew have been rescued from certain doom by a mermaid princess, but now she wants something in return for saving their lives: her father King Neptuna’s stolen trident.To pay their debt, Tim, Belinda, Ferkle, Rover, and Princess Grace once again brave the Sea of Terror to track down the trident in the glorious city of Atlantis, which hasn’t sunk into the sea yet. (In fact, it is famed as the safest city on earth.) But there is plenty of danger en route—and the notorious Prince Ruprecht is lurking about as well. Can the junior knights evade the scheming royal and complete their quest?

Discussion Questions

1. As the novel opens, Tim and his friends are found in a very precarious situation where, he exclaims, “My friends and I were tied up in a rowboat, about to plunge over a waterfall at the edge of the earth.” (Chapter one) What makes this particular situation so scary for them? Without reading further, can you think of any ways they might be able to get themselves out of this jam?

2. Through the illustrations that accompany the text, readers witness Tim and his friends in peril as they are shown tied up, dangling over a waterfall, and even encountering a kraken and a Cyclops. What do the illustrations add to the story, and which is your favorite in The Quest of Danger?

3. As the group is rescued, they meet Piscina, and Princess Grace exclaims, “‘You’re a mermaid!’” Piscina tells her, “‘The term mermaid is sexist. . .. I prefer the term merperson.’” (Chapter two) From their brief interaction and this exchange, how would you describe Piscina?

4. After being saved by a seahorse and Piscina, Tim and his friends are taken to the Kingdom of Merland. Why might this journey underwater feel a bit scary for them?

5. Tim states, “Once I got over the initial shock of going underwater, I saw that it was far more beautiful down there than I had imagined. There were large schools of colorful fish, forests of seaweed, and—on the bottom of the sea itself—there was an entire merperson city.” (Chapter two) Why is this opportunity such a good one for Tim and his friends? What was something new that you were afraid of but ultimately loved or really enjoyed?

6. Why does learning that Piscina’s parents, the king and queen of Merland, want to meet them cause Princess Grace and Belinda to be concerned? How could this situation be problematic for Tim and his friends?

7. While on their way to meet the king and queen, Princess Grace becomes more worried, and when questioned, she says, “‘They obviously know I’m a princess. . .. And now they’re going to try to marry me off to their son. . .. That’s all anyone thinks I’m good for: marriage. They don’t care about my mind or my personality or my life goals. Once they hear I’m a princess, they want me to marry their prince.’” (Chapter three) Do you think Princess Grace is right to be concerned? Why is this typical reaction of royals so problematic?

8. For most people in “olden times” (what we might refer to as the Middle Ages), an individual’s fate was believed to be set. In what ways do Tim, Belinda, Ferkle, and even Princess Grace continue to prove that despite that, it’s possible to still find ways to change their lives or choose what happens to them in the future?

9. While describing her ideal future spouse to Tim, Princess Grace states, “‘I want someone who is smart and brave and funny and honorable and attractive. . .. Kind of like your cousin Bull.’” (Chapter three) What are your thoughts about this list of qualities Princess Grace describes? In what ways are these admirable or poor qualities to have in a friend, as well as in a romantic partner?

10. King Neptuna reveals that Prince Ruprecht has stolen his Great Trident of Merland. The king expects Tim and his friends to retrieve it, or else he will return them to the very dangerous spot on the edge of the world from which they were rescued. What does this manipulation reveal about King Neptuna as a leader? Do you believe the excuse he uses for needing them to do it is good enough? Why or why not?

11. Piscina tells the group, “‘Dad’s really upset about his trident. . .. It’s not just pretty and expensive. It also has magical powers. With it, you can get any sea creature to do your bidding.’” (Chapter four) Why is learning that Prince Ruprecht is in control of this magical trident so problematic?

12. Tim describes Atlantis as “the most amazing place” he has ever seen. (Chapter nine) Based on any prior knowledge you have of it, how is the kingdom of Atlantis in Quest of Danger similar to what you previously imagined it to be? How is it different?

13. Ferkle tells Belinda that “‘Atlantis is so safe because the architects have taken great care to build it well, with strong buildings and dragon-proof walls. I wouldn’t be surprised if this city remained standing for centuries to come.’” (Chapter nine) In what ways is the city’s record for being the safest city of all time and the details Ferkle shares ironic to readers?

14. Looking into Belinda’s eyes after a debate about how to sneak into Atlantis undetected, Princess Grace tells her, “‘You’re right as usual, Bull. . .. You’re very smart.’” (Chapter nine) Based on what he witnesses about this interchange and others before, why is Tim so worried about Princess Grace’s feelings for Bull?

15. What continues to make Ruprecht and Nerlin enemies of Tim, Belinda, and Princess Grace?

16. Based on what you learned about them from reading The Quest of Danger and the previous Once Upon a Tim books, how have your opinions about the elder Knights of Merryland changed throughout the series?

17. As the novel ends, readers learn that not all the challenges faced by Tim, Belinda, Grace, Ferkle, and Rover have been resolved, and the story ends with more challenges and adventures awaiting them. What are your predictions for the next installment of Once Upon a Tim?

IQ Booster Vocabulary Activities

The Once Upon a Tim books are filled with big vocabulary words that are fun to learn and use, and that make the story more engaging. Use the following activities to help readers practice using and learning these words so they can sound like geniuses too.

Word Art!

Drawing detailed pictures of a word’s meaning is another powerful tool to help students learn, understand, and retain a new vocabulary word. Choose six words prior to making copies, or the student can choose the six trickiest words.

Vocabulary Relay

a) Print out IQ Booster words from The Quest of Danger on one set of cards (copy this set a few times) and definitions, context, or sentences in which they could be used on another set (just one set).

b) Jumble up the words in a pile in the middle of the floor, and jumble up the definitions, context, and sentences to keep with you. Break students into teams of four or five.

c) Call out the definition/context/sentence and give students some think time (8–10 seconds) to talk about what word it might be.

d) After the discussion time, call out “Word!” One member from each team runs to the center and tries to find the word in the pile. Consider having multiple sets of the words so more than one team can get it. Check to make sure they’re correct, and then discuss it briefly before the next round.

Vocabulary Bingo

After the group has learned at least twenty-five different vocabulary words from The Quest of Danger, bingo is a great game students love to play that will provide an opportunity for review. Students write a vocabulary word from the novel in each space of their bingo card (you’ll need to create a template). Use review and discussion of The Quest of Danger to provide the definition of one of the words. Then each student should find the vocabulary word and cover it with a bingo chip. The first player to get five in a row, four corners, or blackout wins the game.

Extension Activities for The Quest of Danger

1. Magical Mayhem! Bling It Out! In The Quest of Danger, Ruprecht is wearing manyof the magical and mystical treasures that he has stolen from different kingdoms throughout the series; he has adorned himself with the Mystical Protective Amulet of Merryland on a gold chain around his neck, the Golden Crown of Tinkerdink on his head, the Royal Robes of Roobadoob around his shoulders, and many jeweled rings on his fingers. (Chapter ten) Meanwhile, his knights are seen carrying golden scepters and staffs and orbs—and the Great Trident of Merland. Have readers illustrate versions of these treasures or alternatively, offer a variety of art supplies to allow creations of their own life-sized versions for a blinged-out fashion show parade.

2. Underwater Mysteries in the Deep Sea: Create a Creature! Throughout The Quest of Danger, readers encounter a kraken and a Cyclops as well as several other scary and fantastical monsters and creatures while on the journey to reclaim the magical trident that rightfully belongs to the king of Merland. Have readers use their imaginations to create an original sea creature not described or illustrated in the book. In addition to determining the sea creature’s appearance, be sure to name the creature and describe a few of its characteristics. After everyone has designed their own, allow readers to take turns sharing.

3. Map It Out! In The Quest of Danger, the team embarks on a forced mission to retrieve the magical trident stolen by Prince Ruprecht and his entourage. Working in teams, use the novel’s sequence of events and large butcher paper to design an updated map that highlights the story’s landmarks and pitfalls.

4. Comic Construction: The Quest of Danger is filled with delightful illustrations by Stacy Curtis. Using Stacy’s illustrations as inspiration, select a favorite scene from the novel and create either a digitally or manually illustrated graphic for that scene. Use either a digital comic strip creator ( or a printable comic book storyboard sheet (found online) to begin to design the storyboards for the selected scene.

This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an associate professor in the Library Science Department in the College of Education 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.

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

About The Readers

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (November 7, 2023)
  • Runtime: 2 hours and 13 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797163277
  • Grades: 2 - 5
  • Ages: 7 - 10

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