6th Grade Literature Pre-Assessment
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by Amber Every
| 14 Questions
Note from the author:
Pre-assessment for ELA standards RL6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.5, and 6.6
“The Curse of the Poisoned Pretzel”
Today you will read a story that introduces the reader to the fictional Sluggers baseball team. You will then answer several questions based on the text. I will be happy to answer questions about the directions, but I will not help you with the answers to any questions. You will notice as you answer the questions that some of the questions have two parts. You should answer Part A of the question before you answer Part B, but you may go back and change your answer to Part A if you want to.
Take as long as you need to read and answer the questions. If you do not finish when class ends, come see me to discuss the ways you may have additional time.
Now read the passage and answer the questions.
Excerpt from “The Curse of the Poisoned Pretzel” from Two Hot Dogs with Everything by Paul Haven

(1)  In the history of baseball, no team had tormented its fans with more gut-wrenching defeats and wasted promise than the Sluggers. And in the history of rooting for baseball, no fans had been more devoted than Sluggers fans. Every bad bounce, every lopsided trade, every bitter loss, all were stamped onto the hearts of Sluggers fans— decade after frustrating decade—until misfortune became a part of them. Any of them could reel off a list of the team’s most famous failures. There were the Phantom Strikeout of 1907, the Snowed-Out Summer of 1934, the Triple-Play Tragedy of 1967. The first had broken the heart of Danny’s great-grandfather Zechariah Gurkin, the second had crushed the spirit of his grandpa Ebenezer, and the third still brought tears to the eyes of Danny’s parents, Harold and Lydia.

(2)  In fact, in the 108 years since an immigrant bubble-gum tycoon named Manchester E. Boddlebrooks founded the team, the Sluggers had won only one championship, and that was in their very first year. Even that glorious season, as Danny or any other Sluggers fan could tell you, was tainted by tragedy.

(3)  It all started in the smoky clubhouse after the Sluggers won the World Series. At the time, all the players wore baggy wool pants and very small caps on their heads, and the gentlemen in the stands wore fancy top hats and had pointy mustaches that curled up at the ends like bicycle handlebars. Nobody realized how silly they looked because it was so many years ago.

(4)  Boddlebrooks wasn’t just any bubble-gum tycoon. He was the type of bubble-gum tycoon people noticed. He weighed nearly three hundred pounds and had big, bushy sideburns and a kind smile. More than anything else, Boddlebrooks loved baseball, and he loved owning the Sluggers. He handed out gum and sweets to the players after most games, and on weekends he even let them come to his mansion outside town. The mansion was painted all red, the color of Boddlebrooks’s most favorite flavor of gum, Winning-Streak Watermelon. It had a fountain in the back that spouted bubble-gum- flavored soda and a giant hot-air balloon that looked like the biggest bubble ever blown.

(5)  Everyone loved Boddlebrooks. Everyone, that is, except his younger brother, Skidmore.

(6)  Skidmore C. Boddlebrooks was thin and wiry. He always wore a black overcoat and hats that were slightly too big for him, so his eyes were hidden in shadow. In fact, nobody could ever remember seeing Skidmore Boddlebrooks’s eyes at all. He gave everyone the creeps.

(7)  Why Skidmore hated his brother so much was anybody’s guess, but most people thought it had something to do with the fact that he was violently allergic to bubble gum. Skidmore saw his brother’s sweet, chewable candies as a personal insult. The fame and riches the gum brought Manchester made it even worse.

(8)  On the night the Sluggers won the championship, as Manchester and all his players were celebrating in the clubhouse, Skidmore crept up to his brother and pulled something out from beneath his jacket.

(9)  “Here, try this,” Skidmore said, revealing an enormous doughy concoction. “It’s a new snack food I’ve been working on. I call it a pretzel.”

(10)  Now, Manchester was an educated man with a passion for junk food, so he was well aware that the pretzel had been invented more than a thousand years before by a lonely European monk named Ralph who had a lot of time on his hands. But he didn’t want to embarrass his brother by pointing that out, and he had to admit, he had never seen a pretzel like the one Skidmore had concocted, as big as a man’s face and oozing with mustard.

(11)  Years later, Skidmore’s creation would become the standard ballpark pretzel, sold by screaming teenage vendors in every ballpark around the country. Every ballpark except one, that is. Out of respect, no pretzel has ever been sold at a Sluggers game because of what happened next.

(12)  “Hmm, what a strange idea,” said Boddlebrooks, his eyes twinkling with excitement at the Sluggers’ great victory.

(13)  But no sooner had he taken a bubble-gum-tycoon-sized bite out of the pretzel than Boddlebrooks raised his hands to his mouth, turned purple, and fell over dead, his enormous body crashing down on young Lou Smegny, the Sluggers’ lanky star shortstop, who never played another game.

(14)  The incident came to be known as the Curse of the Poisoned Pretzel, though nobody could ever actually prove that the pretzel was poisoned. Police ruled that Manchester had simply choked on the bread. Skidmore insisted that he felt terrible about the tragedy and would make his pretzels even doughier in the future. But the rumors started almost at once. And they grew louder when Skidmore inherited the Sluggers and the rest of his bachelor brother’s fortune.

(15)  No matter how Skidmore tried to win people over, nobody ever forgave him for giving his brother the suspicious snack. The Curse followed Skidmore wherever he went, and it certainly rubbed off on his team. From the moment Manchester Boddlebrooks choked on the world’s first ballpark pretzel, the Sluggers began a string of failures never before seen by any team in any sport.

(16) Over the next 107 years, the world saw the invention of the car and the plane and the television. Nations rose and fell. Man cured polio and created the Internet and even sent rockets into space. All this came to pass, but not once did the Sluggers win another championship.
1
1
The following question has two parts. Answer Part A and then answer Part B. Part A: Which sentence best describes the point of view of the narrator of the story?
A He has full knowledge of the characters’ thoughts so he can predict future events.
B He is one of the minor characters watching Skidmore and Manchester and takes part in the action.
C He is aware of what Skidmore is thinking, but he is not aware of what Manchester is thinking.
D He knows most of what happens in the story and why, but he does not know everything.
2
1
Part B: Which part of the text best describes how the author develops the point of view in Part A?
A The author has the narrator explain how Manchester felt about baseball and how he treated his players.
B The author has the narrator describe a night that occurred 107 years ago but not what happened later.
C The author has the narrator show how Sluggers fans responded to the team’s record over many years.
D The author has the narrator tell how Manchester died but not whether the pretzel was poisoned.
3
1
How do paragraphs 5 and 6 contribute to the story?
A They hint at some ways that the baseball team can eventually get rid of the curse.
B They help establish that some of the events in the story take place outside of a baseball park.
C They start introducing the reason for the troubles described in paragraphs 1 and 2.
D They challenge the claim in paragraph 1 that the Sluggers will always lose.
4
1
Reread paragraph 14, how does this paragraph contribute to the plot of the story?

(14)  The incident came to be known as the Curse of the Poisoned Pretzel, though nobody could ever actually prove that the pretzel was poisoned. Police ruled that Manchester had simply choked on the bread. Skidmore insisted that he felt terrible about the tragedy and would make his pretzels even doughier in the future. But the rumors started almost at once. And they grew louder when Skidmore inherited the Sluggers and the rest of his bachelor brother’s fortune.
A climax
B resolution
C falling action
D exposition
5
1
The following question has two parts. Answer Part A and then answer Part B.
Part A: The author uses the word “crept” in paragraph 8 instead of a word like “walked” or “marched.” As used in the story, what does the use of the word “crept” suggest about Skidmore?
A that Skidmore is sly and sneaky
B that Skidmore is old and shrunken
C that Skidmore is cautious and careful
D that Skidmore is mean and grouchy
6
1
Part B: Which detail from the story best supports the same conclusion about Skidmore?
A “He always wore a black overcoat . . .”
B “. . . his eyes were hidden in shadow.”
C “. . . he was violently allergic to bubble gum.”
D “. . . saw his brother’s sweet, chewable candies as a personal insult.”
7
1
Choose one main quality that BEST describes the character Manchester Boddlebrooks.
A fierce
B loyal
C foolish
D generous
8
1
Now choose one description that results from the character Manchester Boddlebrooks having this quality.
A suffers heartbreak
B inspires affection
C causes misfortune
D fools everyone
9
1
The following question has two parts. Answer Part A and then answer Part B. Part A: Which statement best expresses a main theme of the story?
A Not all families are happy ones.
B Playing the game counts for more than winning.
C Some things in the universe cannot be explained.
D There are two sides to every story.
E People should hold on to their beliefs.
10
1
Part B: How does the last paragraph of the excerpt help reinforce this theme?
A It suggests that things are always changing, and consequently the Sluggers will eventually win the World Series.
B It suggests that the past century has seen many achievements, but the Sluggers still have not been able to win another World Series.
C It suggests that disappointment is just part of life, but the bitter sadness the Slugger fans feel is greater than normal.
D It suggests that baseball is not really important, and Sluggers fans should realize that their team’s fate does not matter.
E It suggests that humans live in a world full of conflict, and there is always a winner and a loser in every battle.
11
1
The following sentnce is an example of what type of figurative language?
At the time, all the players wore baggy wool pants and very small caps on their heads, and the gentlemen in the stands wore fancy top hats and had pointy mustaches that curled up at the ends like bicycle handlebars.
A metaphor
B similie
C imagery
D personification
E symbolism
12
1
Letter A in the diagram above represents what part of the plot diagram?
A climax
B rising action
C exposition
D resolution
13
1
Letter B in the diagram above represents what part of the plot diagram?
A climax
B rising action
C exposition
D falling action
14
1
Letter C in the diagram above represents what part of the plot diagram?
A climax
B rising action
C falling action
D exposition
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