Listen to the extract from our story Katie's Invisible Umbrella. You can also read along with the text, and answer the questions at the end. Katie is a schoolgirl who comes from a family of witches who have magical powers.
Katie’s grandmother had all sorts of beautiful, but rather old-fashioned, magical things. Many of them weren’t so useful these days, because science has caught up with magic in so many ways. For instance, before electric kettles were invented, witches had magic cauldrons that boiled the water without any need to put them on the fire. Well Katie’s Grandma still used one of those to make her tea and coffee. Before phones were invented, witches used to call one another using crystal balls, and Katie’s Grandma absolutely refused to get a mobile phone or a computer, so if you wanted to send her a text message, you had to use a crystal ball. And of course she still kept a witch’s broomstick, though these days most witches prefer to drive a car or take the bus, because broomsticks are not very comfortable, and it’s all too easy to slide off them and hurt yourself.
One of Grandma’s most beautiful possessions was her umbrella. It had a golden handle that was shaped like the head of a griffin. The fabric was decorated with old fashioned magic symbols, which Katie could not understand, because these days most witches learn to do spells in modern languages like English or French. But they were very beautiful and Katie loved looking at them.
Grandma was always a little scatty, even in her younger days, but as she got older, she became more and more forgetful. One day she left her umbrella in the patisserie. She only realised that she no longer had it when it rained the following Wednesday. She remembered that it had been raining when she visited the patisserie. The shop was near to where Katie lived, and so Katie went to fetch it. As Katie left the shop, it began to rain, and naturally, she opened the umbrella.
Other people on the street were turning up their collars or dodging into doorways to avoid the downpour. Katie ambled along enjoying the dryness of her umbrella. But as she was passing the mobile phone store, a man barged into her.
“Oy, you could say ‘sorry’, or ‘excuse me!’” exclaimed Katie. The man turned around and stared at her blankly like she wasn’t there.
Katie continued home, but it wasn’t long before she collided with a traffic warden and then was nearly run-over by a woman with a pram.
“Aren’t people rude these days?” thought Katie, “It’s just a little bit of rain. They are all in such a hurry, you would think they were all running away from a rampaging elephant or something.”
1) Why are magical things not so useful these days as in the past?
2) Does Katie's grandmother like to use modern things?
3) Why does Katie go to the patisserie shop?
4) What is the weather like?
5) Why do people keep bumping into Katie when she is walking under the umbrella? (you might have to guess the answer)
Vocabulary and Grammar
1) "Many of them X so useful these days". What is the missing word?
2) "Grandma was always a little scatty". What does "scatty" mean?
d) good at remembering things
e) forgetful and absent-minded
3) "Katie ambled along". What does "ambled" mean?
a) walked in a relaxed way
d) looked like an ambulance
4) "X she was passing the mobile phone store, a man barged into her." What is the missing word?
5) "They are all in such a hurry, you X think they were all running away". What is the missing word?
Do you think that older people can keep up with modern things like mobile phones and computers? What is your experience from your own family and people you know. Write down your thoughts or discuss in class.
What is your favourite possession? Describe it and say why you like it so much.
Are people on the street generally rude or polite? Do they bump into others as they pass them? Do people say "sorry" these days? Are people good at queuing up and waiting their turn? Write down your thoughts or discuss in class.