Extraordinarily powerful, uplifting and memorable, the story of “Freak the Mighty” explores an unlikely friendship, and finds optimism and humour in a story of great poignancy. Maxwell Kane is feared and bullied because of his mental slowness and enormous size.
But this is not the only cross he has to bear; Maxwell’s father is in jail for murdering his mother. Kevin is smart, quirky and funny with insatiable curiosity and zest for life but he suffers from a rare genetic condition, which inhibits the growth of his body. Yet the combination of Kevin and Maxwell is formidable, when together they become Freak the Mighty.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Read chapter 1 and write descriptions / character profiles of Maxwell and Kevin (Freak) using the information provided.
- Read chapter 2 and write a description / character profile of Gwen.
- Read up to the end of chapter 2. Why does Maxwell think Kevin wants him to die?
- Kevin uses lots of long and complicated words (e.g. trajectory, converging, limitations, propelled). Can you find out what they mean? Could you make a glossary using them?
- Find out about the legend of King Arthur. Could you retell the story?
- In Chapter 8, Kevin mentions that he wants to go on a quest. Can you write a story about a quest that the two boys go on?
- Kevin’s favourite book in the dictionary. Use a dictionary to find new vocabulary to use in your own writing. Have a competition with your friends to find words in the quickest time.
- In Chapter 15, Maxwell receives a Christmas present from Kevin… a dictionary of his favourite words. Could you make a dictionary of your favourite words?
- The story is written from Maxwell’s point of view. Use this as a starting point for learning about writing in the first person / third person. Could you rewrite a passage from Kevin’s point of view, or as a narrator retelling the story?
- The book includes ‘About the Author’ and ‘An Interview with the Author’ sections. If you had to write sections about yourself in a book, what would you write?
- Watch the movie adaptation of the story and discuss how it compares with the book.
- ‘Freak the Mighty’ are nine feet tall when they are standing together. Can you convert this to metric measurements?
- Measure the height of some members of your class. Plot these on a graph and compare them to the height of ‘Freak the Mighty’.
- Kevin uses a compass to navigate around. Learn about the different compass directions and using co-ordinates to identify and move between locations.
- Maxwell and Kevin go to see fireworks and Kevin shouts of the names of the chemicals and elements that they are made with. Can you find out how fireworks work? Can you learn about the chemicals used in them?
- Kevin hopes to become ‘the first bionically improved human’. Find out what ‘bionics’ means. How can doctors help people with different physical conditions?
- At the end of Chapter 9, Kevin mentions different medical measurements and procedures. Can you find out what they mean?
- Listen to the audiobook version of the story. Could you record your own version, with expression, accents, sound effects and music?
- Find out about ornithopters. Could you design and make one?
- Draw a picture showing what the basement (the down under) might look like.
- Kevin ‘steers’ Maxwell as they move around together. Could you write some directions to help ‘steer’ you from place to place in your school / local area?
- Kevin uses a compass to find his way around. Do you know how to use a compass? Could you use one to navigate from two places in your local area?
- In Chapter 10, the boys go on a treasure hunt. Could you plan a treasure hunt in your school grounds?
- Kevin mentions the Latin name for some insects. Can you find out any other Latin words?
- Maxwell ‘had a way of saying things with his fists and his feet’. What does this mean? How should he say things?
- The two boys have different abilities and disabilities. Can you describe what they are? How do they use their abilities and try to overcome their disabilities?
- At the end of chapter 4, Gwen appears scared of Maxwell. What could he do to try to improve this situation?
- In Chapter 7, the boys ‘avoid a confrontation’. Discuss what this means. How else could they avoid a confrontation? Have you ever avoided a confrontation? How did you do it?
- The boys have to deal with lots of teasing and bullying. Use this as a starting point for how to deal with bullying if you or someone you know is affected.
- The boys help each other in lots of different ways throughout the story. How have your friends helped you? How do you help them?