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Teacher's notes

LEVEL 2

PENGUIN READERS Teacher Support Programme

Project Omega

Elaine O'Reilly

to stop waiting and start acting. She thinks that her father is trying to tell her something. She leaves the luxury apartment and goes around the city. For the first time in her life, she sees how many of the poor people in the city live and she realises that she must do something with her father's money to improve their lives. She goes to Hatfield International and asks to have a meeting with the directors to find out about the company's plans for the future. Chapter 3: Julia spends two days looking at the company's files. She learns just how powerful Hatfield International is. At the end of the second day she comes across a red file entitled `Project Omega'. The file is empty, but she can see that her father has written `Never!' inside the file. She asks to see the papers from `Project Omega', but the girl in the office says she knows nothing about it. Julia is very suspicious. Chapter 4: Julia's conversation about Project Omega is overheard by Mr Berger, one of the directors of the company. He tries to convince her not to look for the file, but she insists. Finally he tells the secretary to open the safe and show Julia the papers. As she is leaving, Julia hears Mr Berger shouting at the secretary. Later, at home, she receives a phone call from the secretary. The secretary says that Julia's life is in danger now. The directors don't want her to know about Project Omega! Chapter 5: Julia reads the secret file and finds out that the directors have plans to get even more power for themselves. She realises that they are evil men. She decides she must go to the police and the newspapers to tell them about it. But as she is leaving the apartment the next morning she almost falls to her death down the empty lift-shaft. Chapter 6: Luckily for Julia, a young man called Edward West is on hand to save her from falling. He pulls her back from the shaft just in time. Julia is very grateful to Edward and she invites him into her flat for a cup of coffee. She tells him about Project Omega and the two young people make plans to give the story to the newspapers. But just as Julia thinks her worries are over, she realises that the file is missing. Chapter 7: Julia and Edward realise that the police and the newspapers will not believe them without proof. Edward tells Julia that she must return to the offices of Hatfield International to get another copy of the Omega file. Julia returns to the office, but before she gets a chance to look at the files, Edward calls her and tells her to leave the building. She does so, and is pushed into a car by two

About the author

Elaine O'Reilly was born in South Africa but now lives in Rome where she owns a bookshop and writes. She writes mainly for children's television. She has two dogs, three cats and a daughter.

Summary

When wealthy businessman Charles Hatfield Baker III disappears, the obvious answer is that he has been kidnapped. His daughter, Julia, and the authorities wait for a ransom demand but as the weeks turn to months and no demand arrives, Julia begins to come to terms with the idea that her father is not coming back. She owns more than fifty percent of her father's company, Hatfield International, and she decides to do something with her vast wealth to make life better for people. Chapter 1: One autumn morning Charles Hatfield Baker III, boss of Hatfield International and the richest man in New York, leaves his apartment on the fortieth floor to go to his office on the other side of Central Park. It begins as a very ordinary Wednesday morning. He says goodbye to his daughter and wishes the doorman of his building a good day. But Charles Hatfield Baker III never arrives at his office. The police search for him everywhere ­ on the streets, at the airport, and at the train and bus stations. The newspapers are very interested in the story. They put the news of his disappearance on the front page and offer a $10,000 reward for information. But nothing happens. His daughter waits by the telephone, worrying about her father. Chapter 2: As winter arrives in New York, there is still no news of the missing businessman. The newspapers lose interest in the story and even the police stop asking questions. Eighteen-year-old Julia Hatfield Baker decides

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Project Omega - Teacher's notes

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Teacher's notes

LEVEL 2

PENGUIN READERS Teacher Support Programme

Project Omega

men wearing Father Christmas costumes. She recognises one of the men as Edward. She struggles but the men are too strong. Julia loses consciousness. Chapter 8: When Julia regains consciousness she is in an aeroplane. Edward is there and he tells her he had to kidnap her to save her life again. Edward tells her the truth about her father ­ he escaped to Florida when he found out about Project Omega and realised the directors wanted to kill him. He didn't go the police because he wanted Julia to make up her own mind about the future of the company. Julia is reunited with her father in Florida and it looks like Julia and Edward are going to be together for some time yet. increase their power. Julia believes that `the power of good is stronger than the power of evil', and, fortunately for her, she turns out to be right at the end of the story.

Discussion activities

Before reading

1 Discuss: Tell the students to imagine that they have just inherited an enormous sum of money. The condition is that they must do something to help other people. Put the students into groups of four and tell them they have fifteen minutes to decide what to do with the money. After fifteen minutes, each group elects a spokesperson to present their decisions to the rest of the class. Write their suggestions up on the board. The class votes for the best plan.

Background and themes

Big business: We never learn the details of Project Omega, but the feeling that big business, as represented by Hatfield International, is out of control is a familiar one. Multinational corporations now wield enormous power and influence. Globalisation and the free movement of capital often means that corporations are more powerful than governments The decisions often seem to be made, like in the story, by `men in grey', who are not accountable to the people whose lives they affect. Rich and poor: In cities such as New York, where this story is set, great wealth and great poverty exist side by side. The main character in the story is the daughter of an enormously rich man who has no real idea about how the vast majority of the population live their lives. She lives on the fortieth floor of a luxury apartment building, and travels in expensive cars. But she becomes aware of the existence of poverty in the city as she travels around trying to solve the riddle of her father's disappearance. Parents and children: Charles Hatfield's daughter loves her father very much. As she reaches the age of eighteen, she enters the adult world in a dramatic fashion ­ forced to deal with responsibilities that are totally new to her. This is a very topical theme at a time when expanding higher education, the rising cost of housing and diminishing job prospects seem to be making children remain dependent on their parents for much longer than in the past. In this sense, the decision of Julia Baker's father to place her in a position to make decisions is an interesting counter-example. Good and evil: The theme of good and evil is evoked through the contrast between Julia's innocent determination to do good, and the murky world of the directors of the company, who are ready to kill in order to

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Chapter 1 After reading

2 Write: Tell the students to imagine that Mr Baker has been kidnapped. Put them into pairs and tell them to write a letter from the kidnappers to Mr Baker's daughter, asking for money. Get one member of each pair to read their letter out to the rest of the class. Role play: Tell the students to look at the picture on page 2. Working with the whole class, get the students to describe the picture and to say what is happening in it. Then put the students into pairs and tell them to write a short dialogue (five or six lines) between the man in the hat and the thin policeman. Go around the class helping with vocabulary if necessary. The students then practise their dialogues until they know them by heart. Invite some of the pairs to perform the dialogue in front of the whole class. Write: Tell the students to look at the picture on page 3. Write the headline on the board: `Millionaire Disappears'. Elicit ideas from the class about what information the article will contain. Make sure they suggest all the most obvious things (Who is the man?, When did it happen?, Who was the last person to see him? etc.). Then put the students into pairs and have them write the article. When they have finished, the pairs exchange texts and check each other's work for factual errors and language mistakes. Guess: Working with the whole group, ask the students to suggest what they think has happened to Mr Baker. Write their suggestions on the board. When you have four or five suggestions, ask the class to vote on the most likely one. Role play: Tell them to look at the picture on page 7. Ask them to imagine what Julia is saying to the directors. What does she want to do? Put their suggestions on the board. Once you have enough suggestions on the board, put the students into groups of five. They are going to act out the meeting between Julia and the directors of the company.

Project Omega - Teacher's notes 2 of 3

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Chapter 2

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Teacher's notes

LEVEL 2

PENGUIN READERS Teacher Support Programme

Project Omega

7 Read carefully: Working individually, students make a list of all the things that Julia had never seen before she went into the streets of New York on page 5. After five minutes, put the students into pairs so that they can compare their lists. Pair work: Put the students into pairs and tell them to write out the conversation between Julia and Miss Bentley on page 9 as if it were a stage play. Then each pair performs the dialogue until they can do it without reading the text. Guess: Write the following question on the board: `What do you think Project Omega is?' Working individually, the students write down their answer to the question in one sentence. Then ask one of the students to read out their sentence. Write it on the board. If the language needs correcting, ask the class to try to correct it. Then ask another student to read out their sentence. Continue the procedure for as long as the students have new ideas. 13 Role play: Put the students into pairs and tell them to write out the conversation between Julia and Miss Harper on page 12 as if it were a stage play. The students practise the dialogue until they know it by heart.

Chapter 3

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Chapter 5

14 Discuss: Julia is in danger and feels she has no friends. What is a friend? Write the following on the board: A friend is someone ... Working individually, the students complete the definition. Then put the students in small groups and have them discuss the similarities and differences between their definitions. 15 Debate: Write the following sentence from page 14 on the board. `The power of good is stronger than the power of evil.' Follow the procedure indicated in exercise 11 to organise a debate on this issue. 16 Role play: Put the students into small groups and ask them to role play the meeting during which the directors plan Julia's `accident' in the lift.

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Chapter 4

10 Role play: Tell the students to look at the picture on page 10. Working with the whole class, get the students to describe the picture and to say what is happening in it. Then put the students into pairs and tell them to write a short dialogue (five or six lines) between the two women Go from pair to pair during this stage of the activity, helping with vocabulary if necessary. The students then practise their dialogues until they know them by heart. Invite some of the pairs to perform their dialogue in front of the whole class. 11 Debate: Julia Baker is the daughter of very rich and powerful man. On page 11, Mr Berger asks her why she is worrying when all she has to do is ask for money. Is life always easy for the children of rich (or famous) parents? Divide the class into two equally-sized groups. Tell them that they are going to have a debate on the above question. Write the following statement on the board: This house believes that life is always easy for the children of rich people Half the class argues in favour of the statement, the other half argues against it. Each student must write least one sentence to support the position of their group. Then proceed with the debate, by asking individual students to read out their sentences. At the end of the debate have the class vote on the question. 12 Pair work: When Julia leaves the office with the papers, she can hear Mr Berger shouting at Miss Harper. Put the students in pairs and tell them to imagine the conversation between the two characters. Mr Berger is angry because Miss Harper put the empty Omega file with the rest of the files for Julia to read. Give them ten or fifteen minutes to prepare and then invite some of the pairs to read their dialogue out loud.

c Pearson Education Limited 2008

Chapter 6

17 Discuss: After the students have finished reading Chapter 6, write the following question on the board: Is Julia right to trust Edward West? Give the class a few minutes to think about their answer and then put the students into small groups to discuss their different opinions and to give their reasons. A nominated spokesman for each groups shares their thoughts with the class. 18 Role play: Working in pairs, the students select five or six lines of dialogue from the conversation between Julia and Edward West on pages 16 ­18. They practise reading the lines out loud until they know them off by heart.

Chapter 7

19 Discuss: Edward tells Julia she must return to Hatfield International to get another copy of the Omega file. Is this a good plan? Put the students in small groups of three or four. Ask them to discuss this question.

Chapter 8

20 Pair work: Put the students into pairs and ask them to think of ways in which Edward found out about the second plan to attack Julia. After ten minutes, ask the pairs to report their ideas to the rest of the class. Write their suggestions on the board and vote on the best one.

Vocabulary activities

For the Word List and vocabulary activities, go to www.penguinreaders.com.

Project Omega - Teacher's notes

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