Prologue through Chapter 5carpet.jpg
1. Where are Baksheesh and his father, Hussein Hussaot digging? What do they find? Why do you think it was illegal for them to be digging here?

2. What type of mystery do you think will be unlocked to Baksheesh and his father?

3. What is unusual about the two family dogs, Alan and Neil (aka Elvis and Winston)?

4. Why do you think Mr. Gaunt was uncomfortable changing their names? On page 11, Mr. Gaunt comments to John that, "...a dog sort of becomes its name in a way no other animal ever does." Do you agree?

5. Explain what "claustrophobic," means. How does the twins' claustrophobia result in a positive and negative outcome for them?

6. Why does the author describe Layla and Edward Gaunt as an "unlikely couple." In your opinion, do opposites attract or repel each other? (p. 7)

7. What surprising turn events do John and Philippa wake up to the morning of their visit to Dr. Larr's How does this event parallel/mirror the activity in the prologue of the book? (p 17)

8. Why does Dr. Larr's revelation that the twins will both need their wisdom teeth extracted such a surprise? (p 21)

9. What do you think is the truth behind the "summer camp," that Layla tells the twins they can go to over the summer--Alembic House. What does the word "alembic," mean?

10. Describe the dream the twins both have while under the Ketamine anesthesia. How do the twins feel about the dream?

11. Do you trust Uncle Nimrod? Why or why not?

12. What does Uncle Nimrod tell the children is the truth behind Alembic House? (p 37)

13. What does Uncle Nimrod ask the children to do? What would you do?

14. Why do you think he tells the children not to tell their mother that they have seen him in their dream?

15. What does Mrs. Trump tell the children she "wishes" would happen. What actually happens? In your opinion, why does it happen? If you had one wish, what would it be?

16. On page 52, Layla explains to John why it is important for the twins to visit Dr. Griggs at Alembic House. Explain.

17. Why does Mrs. Trump think that Salem, Mass. is an odd place for a summer camp? Do you agree?

18. How do Mr. Gaunt and the dogs react to the twins' wisdom teeth extractions? Why?

19. How do Mr. and Mrs. Gaunt react to the twins' desire to go to London and stay with Uncle Nimrod?


djinn.gifChapters 6 - 10

1. Have you ever heard of a silver pill that tasted like barbecue meat? Do you think these pills are FDA approved? What is the true purpose of the silver pills that Mrs. Gaunt gave the twins? (p. 102)


2. John mentions to Philippa that the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Explain what this means and how it relates to the disappearance of Otis and Melody Barstool.

3. On page 75: Nimrod tells the children that they will have a great adventure with him, but that “any real adventure should contain a strong element or risk and, after all, that is the only way we can test ourselves and become stronger characters. Through adversity…” Explain what you think this means and why you agree or disagree. Give an example to support your reasoning.

4. How does Mr. Groanin’s name suit his sad story? Explain the relationship between Nimrod and Groanin and how they met.

5. How does Nimrod feel about babies? Why? How do you feel about babies? Why?

6. Read the description of Nimrod’s home on pp 80 and 81. Compare and contrast it to your own home.

7. On page 83 Uncle Nimrod tells the twins that, “the trouble with schools…all they care about is money and exam results. Churning out more investment bankers and certified accountants…” Argue your case. Do you agree or disagree?

8. What are the Baghdad Rules and what is their purpose?

9. Are you familiar with any of the Tales of the Arabian Nights (Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin). If so, what do you know about them? Share.

10. What is remarkable about the copy of The Arabian Nights that Nimrod shares with John and Philippa? If you could instill Children of the Lamp with magical power, what would it be?

11. What does Nimrod share with the twins to convince them that they are djinn? Is there anything that Nimrod could tell you that would convince you that you were a “child of the lamp?” If so, what would it be?

12. Nimrod calls their djinn ability and status their “gift.” What is your gift?

13. On page 101, Nimrod visit the twins in a dream using his “astral body.” Explain what this means and where you would want to travel in your astral body.

14. What is the significance of the wisdom teeth (dragon teeth) for djinn? What rite of passage do “mundanes” pass through to become adults?

15. What part does “luck” play in being a djinn? In what way, is luck affected by the twins relationship? (p.104) How does luck play a part in your life?

16. On page 105 Mr. R. says, “There’s many a time a man’s mouth broke his own nose.” Explain what this means and whether you agree or not.

17. Would you rather earn something from luck or hard work? Why?


18. What does Nimrod tell the children are the real reasons for the separation between their mother and him all these years? Who do you agree with in this disagreement? Why? (page 109)

19. What is the secret behind the true identities of Alan and Neil or Elvis and Winston? If your pet had a true human identity, who do you think they would be?

20. What is the true purpose of Dr. Grigg’s camp? If the twins had gone to the camp, how might it have affected this story?

21. What does it mean to be normal?

22. According to Nimrod, djinn have the power to furnish their bottle or receptacle however they like. Mr. R. furnishes his with books, television, sofa, chairs, etc. What would you wish for your djinn bottle?

23. What would be a good, safe, no-fail wish?

24. How does Creemy save John’s life when they arrive in Cairo. What does this tell you about Creemy?

25. Explain the “Tuchemeter Room,” and why it is important in this story. (p. 122)

26. Explain the “homeostasis” between good and evil and who is in control, according to Nimrod.

27. Explain the meaning behind the djinn proverb: A wish is a dish, that’s a lot like a fish – once its been eaten it’s harder to throw back.


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Chapters 11 - 14

1. Describe the origin of the Tammuz initiation and its importance to djinn. (page 131) Would you agree to go through with it if you were John or Philippa. Why?

2. What is the significance of the camel to the Marid djinn? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a camel in Egypt? What animal would be well suited for djinn who travel in the Lehigh Valley? Explain why.

3. Why are Huamai’s services valuable to the djinn in the desert? What kind of business would you open to service traveling djinn in our home in the Lehigh Valley?

4. What does Nimrod’s “need” for a butler tell you about his character? (page 139)

5. On page 141, Nimrod leaves some supplies for the twins in the desert. What are they, and what is the significance of each? What supplies would you want to be left with if you were on a Tammuz in Egypt?

6. Create your own imaginary Tammuz for initiation into middle school (6th, 7th, and 8th grade). What would it involve? How would it prepare you for the rigors of being a middle school student?

7. Who was the surprise Tammuz guest? If you could have anyone (dead or alive) appear in your Tammuz Middle School initiation, who would it be and why? How would they be helpful?

8. Name the 6 djinn tribes and whether they side with good or evil? Which side would you be on and why? (page 148)

9. What are the different meanings of “fire” according to Mr. R? What are 2 human definitions for fire? Explain.

10. What makes for a good focus word? Try to remember the focus words for each of the following, without looking back in the book: John, Philippa, Nimrod, and Mr. R. Who do you think had the best focus word. Create your own focus word and explain why you believe it to be a good focus word.

11. What is the meaning of “Iblis,” and how does this name suit him? How does the description of Iblis contrast with the Disney version of a djinn?

12. Name an activity associated with the Iblis that Mr. R. mentions, and imagine some other human activities, which might be related to the evil tribes of djinn.

13. What is wrong with the first picnic that the twins create? What would your “wish” for a picnic include?

14. What is the connection between logic and wishes? Explain.

15. What problem do the twins and Nimrod encounter with Mrs. Coer de Lapin’s picnic? What is their solution? Can you think of another?

16. How do you feel about Mrs. Coer de Lapin? Why?

17. Who does Hussein Husaout meet at the Cairo museum? What do they want from him?

18. What is the significance of the Netjer Tablet?

19. Why do you think Hussaout told Nimrod that Baksheesh was at school when he was actually unconscious in the upstairs backroom?

20. Who do you trust more, Hussein Hussaout or Baksheesh? Why?

21. What does Hussaout tell Nimrod he would wish for? Do you believe him? Why or why not? If not, what do you think he really wants?

22.
Why do you think Hussaout wants Nimrod to return alone? What do you think will happen next?

Chapters 15-18 geniej.jpg

1. On page 186, Nimrod explains why djinn need to use their power sparingly. Explain the sacrifice and whether you feel the wish is worth this risk.

2. Who or what was the Terracotta Army and what did their discovery prove to the djinn? (page 188)

3. What is a “heretic” and why is Akhenaten remembered as the “Heretic Pharaoh?” (page 189)

4. Who/what were Akhenaten’s parents? How did this first appear to affect his relationship with the 70 djinn?

5. Which god was Akhenaten known for worshiping? What appeared to be the true identity of this god?

6. Why is it so important to Nimrod that the Marid find the 70 djinn first? What do you think will happen if they don’t?

7. What does Nimrod believe Hussein discovered during the earthquake in the desert? Why is it so important?

8. Nimrod tells John that the crack in the wall of the Cairo Museum may be a message. Who do you think the message is from? And what is the message?

9. What was Groanin’s former profession? How did he lose his arm in his line of work? Did it surprise you? Why? How did you think he lost his arm?

10. If you were one of the twins, would you have alerted the police when Nimrod disappeared? Why or why not? What would you have done?

11. How do you bind a djinn to your service? (p. 205)
If you were the author, what would you have imagined as a good way to bind a djinn? Be creative.

12. What goes wrong with the car that John and Phillipa wish? What would be your dream-wish car? Why?

13. On p. 210, Groanin says: Have your friends under your care. But have your enemies under your nose. What does this mean and who are the enemies?

14. During the search for Nimrod, Mr. Groanin recites the poem, Ozymandias. Why is the line “Nothing beside remains,” significant?

15. How does Groanin’s wish save both Nimrod and himself? If you were Groanin, would you have done the same? Explain.

16. How does Hussein bind Nimrod? Do you think Hussein is good or evil? Why?

17. Why did Hussein help the Ifrit? What would you have done in his place? Do you think that anything that good intentions justify evil means?

18. What is the significance of jade and copper to the Marid? What living seal is used to prevent Nimrod’s escape from the tomb? If you could imagine a living seal that would keep intruders out of your bedroom, what would it be and why?

19. What word does Philippa hear escape from the Scorpion and what do you think it means? (p. 233)

20. What was odd about the tomb that Nimrod was sealed inside? Hint: What hieroglyphs were on the walls? (p. 234)

21. How do the twins and Nimrod get into Hussein’s shop to question Baksheesh? Would you have agreed to do this?

22. How did Baksheesh survive the poisonous snake bit? Explain.

23. What was the significance of the twin scorpion in Hussein’s shop? How did he save his son?



24. What is Nimrod’s plan to trap Iblis? Do you think it will work? If not, what would be your plan?



genie_in_a_lamp.gifChapters 19-23
1. Under what fake pretense do John and Philippa visit Mrs. Coer de Lapin’s library? What are their true intentions?

2. What does Mrs. Coer de Lapin do that makes John feel uncomfortable? Would it make you feel this way too? Why doesn't John just tell her that he feels this way?

3. Philippa notes that the books on Mrs. Coer de Lapin’s library are all about what subject? If someone were to visit your bookshelves, what would they learn about you?

4. Philippa makes a strange wish involving Mrs. Coer de Lapin. What is it? Would you have done the same or would you have done something else? Explain.

5. According to Mrs. Coer de Lapin, what did the Egyptians admire about the dung beetle? What creature do you admire? What characteristic makes it admirable?

6. What is odd about Mrs. Coer de Lapin’s headdress? What is the outcome?

7. Describe the appearance of Iblis and what he looks like. Does it match how you imagined Iblis to look? Compare and contrast your image with the real Iblis.

8. What horrible fate do John and Philippa meet in the library of Mrs. Coer de Lapin? How do they make the best of it? What would you have done?

9. Nimrod reveals his true plan involving the twins’ visit to the library. Do you think Nimrod put them in any real danger? Why or why not?

10. What horrible fate does Iblis meet in the library? Can you think of a more fitting bottle to trap him inside? What would it be and why?

11. Where does Nimrod hide himself in the library? If you were a djinn, where would you hide and why?

12. What is important about Mrs. Coer de Lapin’s name? Does your name mean anything or say anything about you? Share.

13. Where are the 70 lost djinn hidden? Detail the clues that led to this amazing discovery.

14. John sees the cracked glass in the BM that resembles the crack on his wall at home. Who does John believe is sending him a message? What does the message mean?

15. Nimrod and the twins hide in a coke bottle at the BM. What type of bottle would you hide inside if you had your choice of any type of bottle? Why?

16. What does Nimrod use to prevent the BM guards from watching them on the security cameras? Can you think of any other time(s) or situation you would enjoy using this device? Explain.

17. Who do John and Philippa run into in the BM? What would you have done in their shoes?

18. Who is responsible for releasing the 70 lost djinn of Akhenaten and how do they do it? It the outcome good, bad, or homeostasis?

19. What happens to Nimrod? Can you think of a way to save him using your mundane powers that do not include magic?



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Chapters 24-26 The End


1.While inside the Portland Vase, Philippa recites the first stanza to Ode On a Grecian Urn by Keats. This poem is full of figurative language. Keats uses personification when he refers to the vase as an unravished bride of quietness and the ‘foster child of Silence and Time. What do you think he meant?

2. What happens to Frederick Finger? Do you think his wish coming true will bring him happiness or sadness? Explain how it could bring either to him. What is ironic about Mr. Finger’s name?

3. On page 327, Mrs. Dierdre Frickin-Humphrey-Muncaster of the pressure group Mums for Mummies said, “The incident highlights a scandal that has existed for decades at the British Museum. Everyone has the right to a decent burial, no matter how long they have been dead.” Do you agree? Support your position with facts or opinions.

4. How are djinn like lizards? What animal or reptile would you compare yourself to? In what way(s) are you similar to this creature? What characteristics or physical features do you share?

5. Where do John and Philippa take the canopic jar with Nimrod and the ghost of Akhenaten inside it?

6. How does Philippa distract the customs official at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport? What would you have done?

7. What crude habit does Anna, the helicopter pilot, demonstrate every time she loses a hand of cards to Volodya, the tour guide? How does Philippa solve the problem? Do you think this was a good or wasteful use of her powers? Explain.


8. How did the twins stay warm when entering the freezing cold canopic jar that housed Nimrod and the ghost of Akhenaten? Can you think of another solution that would have worked to free Nimrod without releasing Akhenaten?

9. How does John distract the polar bear and how does Mr. Rakshasas help save them from the polar bear? What would you have done? Explain.

10. How does Nimrod dispose of the canopic jar filled with the ghost of Akhenaten? Could you think of a better way to have rid themselves of him?

11. What happens to the Bloomsbury Seventy? How was this a fitting ending for them?

12. Where can we get the game Astaragali or Unwahrheit Notluge (German for white lies)? Let me know.

13. Nimrod advises the children not to tell their parents anything about their adventures in London, Egypt, or the North Pole. Do you think this is good advice?

14. Nimrod advises Philippa to count to 100 before granting a wish and reflect on “whether or not that person’s life would really be improved by them having what they want most in the world handed to them on a plate.” Explain what this means and whether you agree or not.

15. What happens to Mrs. Trump? Were you surprised? Explain.

16. Why did Layla Gaunt allow the twins to visit Nimrod when she had made a promise to Mr. Gaunt to raise them as mundanes? Do you think she went back on her word? Explain.

17. On page 354: Layla recites an English proverb and nursery rhyme, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If wishes were soldiers, then weak men would rule. And if wishes were elixirs, then all men would live forever.” What do you think this means?

18. What is the one wish that the twins ask their mother at the end of the story and she agrees to grant?

19. What is your wish after reading this book?

20. What would you like to tell our author, P.B. Kerr, about his story? Do you have any questions left unanswered or anything you would like to share with him about your experience reading Children of the Lamp?