NOTE TO TEACHERS
troubled boys—one in
England, and the other
connected by a strange
book that has
them to reveal its
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Blake Winters, in the library
of present-day Oxford University
with his visiting-scholar mother,
stumbles on an ancient blank book
that seems to leap off the shelves
into his hands. Gradually the empty
book’s story unfolds for his eyes only,
a story that stretches back to an
apprentice of the printer Gutenberg
in 15th-century Germany. As Blake
struggles to understand the book’s
secrets, he is aided—and pursued—
by adult scholars at the university
as well as a mysterious stranger.
Troubled by his parents’ separation,
and reluctantly accepting the help
of his younger sister, Blake follows
clues to the book’s cryptic origins
and desperately struggles to keep its
long-hidden secrets from someone
who would use them for evil ends.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Matthew Skelton was born in England
and grew up in Canada. He has a Ph.D. in English
Literature from Oxford University. Endymion Spring
is his debut novel. He lives in the U.K.
The A&E television program Biography of the Millennium: 100 People—1000
Years interviewed many distinguished artists and scientists to pick the most influential
individuals of the last 10 centuries. Johannes Gutenberg was rated number one.
Have students look up information about Gutenberg to see if they agree with this
decision. Who was Gutenberg? How did he develop the printing press? What did his
invention mean for people at that time? What does it mean for us today?
DISCUSSION AND WRITING
✠ Compare the characters Blake and Endymion. How are they alike? How
are they different? Can you imagine Blake living in the 15th century—or
Endymion living in today’s world? Are there similar ways in which they each
react to the world around them? Do you think they would be friends if they
lived in the same time?
✠ Which of the adults at Oxford in the Ex Libris society reminds you of Johann
Fust in Gutenberg’s day? Which of them reminds you of Gutenberg? Which
one did you suspect was after Endymion Spring’s book? Why do people want
it so badly?
✠ Endymion works as an apprentice, sometimes referred to as a “printer’s devil.”
Some historians believe this term originated because people of the Middle
Ages thought that early printing was a magical process, perhaps associated
with witchcraft. Why did they develop that belief? What factors of that time
might have contributed to that belief?
✠ Compare the way people felt about Gutenberg’s printing process to the
way Giles Bentley feels about digitalization. What are the differences and
similarities in these two processes? Why would people today object to books
✠ Consider the saying that Blake finds in a manuscript in the library’s display
case: “Wisdom speaks with a silent tongue.” What does that mean to you?
Why do the adults think the figure is an old man when Blake is sure it is a
boy? What ways in this story are children wiser than adults—in both time
periods? Can you think of instances in your own life when you thought that
children were wiser than the adults around them?
✠ “Bring only the Insight the Inside brings”—these words appear in the
magical book to both Endymion in the 15th century and Blake in the 21st
century. Jolyon tells Blake that his father’s imagination was “blessed with an
insight I have rarely seen.” What does the word insight mean to you? Why
are Endymion and Blake the only ones able to read the book’s writing?
✠ Look up information about the Faust legend that Blake’s mother is studying.
What is the significance of this research in understanding the magical
properties of the Endymion Spring book? What is the significance of the
name of the library cat—Mephistopheles? Do you believe that Johann Fust
could, indeed, have been the original Faust?
✠ Discuss the relationship between Blake and Duck. How does Duck
assist Blake in his quest? Would he be able to unravel the entire mystery
without her? Who is braver—Blake or Duck?
✠ Who is Psalmanazar? Why doesn’t he speak to the children when they
first meet him? What part does he play in helping Blake solve the mystery
of the book? Why doesn’t he meet with the others in the Ex Libris society?
✠ In Chapter 15, Blake says, “Sometimes it’s harder to know the question
than to find an answer.” What does he mean when he says that? What
questions does he need to know as the story unfolds? What questions
are hardest to know? Can you think of a time in your own life when you
couldn’t find an answer because you didn’t know the right question to ask?
Endymion Spring has many rich curriculum tie-ins. Present your class with the
activities below as a starting point.
✠ Look up information about Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer. Write a short
skit in which you act out the business dealings between Gutenberg and Fust.
What part does Peter play in this scenario? Use the Internet to research the
document that describes this dispute: the Helmasperger’s Notarial Instrument
of 6 November 1455. Begin with www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/start.htm
✠ Research the meaning of being an apprentice in the 15th century. What
would working in Gutenberg’s shop mean to an orphan like Endymion Spring?
What sort of clothes did a medieval apprentice wear? How long would he
have to serve in order to learn a trade?
✠ Locate Mainz on a map of medieval Europe: historymedren.about.com/library/
atlas/natmapce1460.htm. Find a route that Fust and Peter might have traveled
from Paris to Mainz. Plot a route for Endymion Spring to travel from Mainz
to Oxford (north of London) on this map. What modes of transportation
would he be able to use in that time?
✠ Create your own illuminated manuscript. Decide on a text that you feel is
important to you. Copy out the text and create an artistic way to display the
initial letter, decorate the borders, and enhance the meaning of your document.
What decisions do you need to make as you proceed with your work?
✠ Since the 15th century, book lovers have created special nameplates to identify
their books. The bookplate, or ex libris, is a miniature art form developed to
identify the owner of a book in a special way. Research this art in older and more
modern formats at these Web sites and others you can find: www.bookplate.org
and www.myhomelibrary.org/bookplates.html. Create your own bookplate design
demonstrating who you are and why your books are important to you.
✠ Write the story of Endymion Spring’s life from Gutenberg’s point of view.
Imagine how the inventor felt about the boy and why he brought him into
his shop as an apprentice. What was it like for Gutenberg to be developing
a whole new way of producing books? Create a journal kept by Gutenberg
as he works on his printing press.
In the classroom
Endymion Spring features words that relate to life in medieval Europe and
the early days of printed books. Have students look up any of the following words
that are unfamiliar to them:
Architecture: cathedral, turret, balustrade, half-timbered, lych-gate, lancet window,
plinth, stone boss
Early Books: illuminated manuscript, majuscule, calligraphy, missal,
parchment, vellum, Psalter, compositor, quire, ream, florilegium
Praise for Endymion Spring
“A magical book.
Wonderfully engaging, even addictive.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Marvelously entertaining. Set to be the biggest
Oxford—produced hit since . . . The Curious Incident
of the Dog in the Night—Time.”
—The Oxford Times
BEYOND THE BOOK
The official Web site of Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton.
The British Library: Gutenberg Bible
At this site, you can view actual pages from two of the Gutenberg Bibles that are
in the collection of the national Library of Britain.
The Digital Revolution: Changing Oxford
Read a lecture on the history of the book by an Oxford librarian with accompanying
pictures from his PowerPoint display that show many types of early
manuscripts and early printed books.
University of Oxford
This Web site of Oxford University includes maps of the town and colleges and
descriptions of the university’s history and courses of study.
OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Random House HC • 978-0-375-82273-5 (0-375-82273-9)
Yearling PB • 978-0-375-82274-2 (0-375-82274-7)
GLB • 978-0-375-92274-9 (0-375-92274-1)
Wise Child by Monica Furlong
Grades 5 up
Random House HC • 978-0-394-89105-7 (0-394-89105-8)
Random House PB • 978-0-394-82598-4 (0-394-82598-5)
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Grades 7 up
Deluxe Edition HC • 978-0-375-83830-9 (0-375-83830-9)
Deluxe Edition GLB • 978-0-375-93830-6 (0-375-93830-3)
Alfred A. Knopf HC • 978-0-679-87924-4 (0-679-87924-2)
Alfred A. Knopf trade PB • 978-0-375-82345-9 (0-375-82345-X)
Laurel-Leaf PB • 978-0-440-23813-3 (0-440-23813-7)
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Guide prepared by Connie Rockman, children’s literature consultant, adjunct professor of children’s and
young adult literature, and editor of the H. W. Wilson Junior Book of Authors and Illustrators series.
Random House Children’s Books
1745 Broadway, Mail Drop 10-4 • New York, NY 10019 • BN 0605 • 08/06