The Ability

The Ability

(Part of The Ability)
Illustrated by: Iacopo Bruno
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
Delve into the extraordinary abilities of the twelve-year-old mind in this “fast-paced, superhero-tinged spy novel” (Publishers Weekly), the thrilling start to a middle grade series that expands the possibilities of power.

No one has any confidence in twelve-year-old Christopher Lane. His teachers discount him as a liar and a thief, and his mom doesn’t have the energy to deal with him. But a mysterious visit from the Ministry of Education indicates that Chris might have some potential after all: He is invited to attend the prestigious Myers Holt Academy.

When Christopher begins at his new school, he is astounded at what he can do. It seems that age twelve is a special time for the human brain, which is capable of remarkable feats—as also evidenced by Chris’s peers Ernest and Mortimer Genver, who, at the direction of their vengeful and manipulative mother, are testing the boundaries of the human mind.

But all this experimentation has consequences, and Chris soon finds himself forced to face them—or his new life will be over before it can begin.
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  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442452015 | 
  • March 2014 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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Read an Excerpt

• CHAPTER ONE •

Wednesday, October 17

Cecil Humphries, the government minister for education, despised most things, amongst them:

Cyclists.

The seaside.

Being called by his first name.

Weddings.

The color yellow.

Singing.

But at the top of this list was children. He hated them, which was rather unfortunate given that he was in charge of the well-being of every child in Britain. He knew, however, that the public was rather fond of them, for some reason he couldn’t fathom, and so he had reluctantly accepted the position, sure that it would boost... see more

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Ability
By M. M. Vaughan

Discussion Questions

1. What is a prologue and what importance is the prologue to this particular story?

2. What was your first impression of Christopher Lane when he was introduced in the story, sitting in the school office waiting for the principal? Use descriptions from the book to support your answer. Did your impression of Christopher change as the story progressed? Why or why not?

3. What was the author’s purpose for including the scene where Christopher interacts with a spider spinning its web?

4. Christopher stole some money from his teacher. What does Christopher do with the money? How had Christopher and his mother been surviving the past seven years since his father’s death?

5. Christopher attempted to sell his father’s war medals at a pawnshop. What was Frank’s (the pawnshop owner) impression of Christopher? Compare and contrast your impression of Christopher to Frank’s. What did Frank see in Christopher that led Frank to lend him money in advance for work yet to be done? Was it possible that Christopher unknowingly was using his Ability on Frank?

6. Describe Christopher’s mother. What do you think is wrong with her? At twelve years of age, should Christopher be responsible for his mother’s actions?

7. While Chris attended the Black see more

About the Author

M.M. Vaughan
Photograph courtesy of the author

M.M. Vaughan

M.M. Vaughan (also known as Monica Meira) lives in the UK. She loves to write, to listen to Janis Joplin, and to embark on adventures of any kind. She is the author of The Ability and Mindscape.

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