Global Read Aloud: Pax

Today we launched into a new novel, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, along with thousands of other readers world-wide. We’re connecting with other classes through a “slow chat” on Twitter, through comments on class blogs, and through conversations with other classes right in our own building.

We began with a Breakout, designed by Nova Scotia teacher Jeff Hennigar. To keep things interesting I added a Pigpen cipher and used a QR code to access some documents. We managed to solve many of the interesting multi-step puzzles and crack four of the five locks to get into the box. But alas the clock ran out on us. Just thirty seconds more, re-checking the order of that pesky four digit lock, and we were out! The images below are captioned (mouse over the bottom of each one) so you can follow the action. Note the “sad face” photo at the end. I secretly think my students prefer posing for it more than smiling for the victory shot.

All that thinking and team work generated curiosity about the characters, conflicts, and plot of this human and animal story. Huzzahnians, you have two things to tell us in your quality comment comment today: first about the Breakout, then about your predictions for Pax.

Refer to our commenting guidelines. Make it a good ‘un!








  1. Hello,
    I personally thought the breakout was fun, considering foxes are almost my favorite animal.
    I think it was clever to include a fake red herring, completely sneaky. We could have collaborated better but at least we got one lock together. Also we were all confused: why in the world are male foxes are called dogs, like what? So weird. Also, I still don’t understand the pigpen but someone in our group solved it so that is great!
    As for Pax, I just…so sad, he got left behind blindly running into the woods thinking it was a game, then came back to watch his boy drive off in the car crying and saying his name, It’s so sad! I hope things turn out better for Peter and the incredible Pax.


  2. Hey Ms. Smith
    The breakout today was very fun, I loved the new clues especially the journal entry clues they really made me think. Since we did not breakout today I think that our team could have been more strategic by less group members trying to unlock the lock so others can keep working. My predictions for the Pax book is that Peter is going to go looking for Pax and that he is going to find him. I would say that the intRo is very good and makes me want to listen more to the book.


  3. Hi Mrs. Smith
    I really liked the breakout today. It was hard and easy at the same time. My favorite part was when we broke in 30 seconds after the timer went. I think that Peter will run away from his grandpa’s house to try to get Pax but I think Pax will try to go to his house so Peter can’t find him. I hope we will do more fun breakout in the future.
    your best wishes.

  4. Hey Ms. Smith!
    Today’s Breakout was really fun, I especially enjoyed the pigpen cipher. My team only cracked 2 locks, the directional and the five word lock, due to the difficulty. while I was certainly disappointed about not quite breaking out, I am very excited about the book that was in the bottom of the box! Pax seems like an amazing read, and I’m super stoked to be reading it this semester. During the breakout, I was reading the journal entries, and I was thinking “Wow, this is really great! I wonder if there’s a book involving this!” Now that we’ve started chapter one, I have a few predictions for this novel: 1. I wonder what the relationship between Peter and his father is, as the first chapter was an emotionally stressful time for them, I didn’t get a good read on the two of them. 2. I’m pondering how Pax survives in the wilderness! I wonder if the war affects him at all, or if he’s even aware of it. 3. I’m curious how Peter likes living with his grandpa? Does he like it? Is he afraid of his grandpa? Or is his grandpa a complete stranger to him? Anyway, I excitedly await the next chapter of this book!

  5. Dear Ms.Smith
    This breakout was enjoyable I loved that it was about foxes (they are one of my favorite animals). It was cool that we had clues that we had already done, like the pig pen and new challenging ones like how when you found the key you needed a clue with it. I’m super exited to read the book. My prediction is that Peter will go look for his fox and then they will have to survive the war. I’m exited to do more breakouts and I’m ready so bring on the challenges.


  6. Hello Ms.Smith,
    I thought the new breakout was very fun but quite tough. I really liked the Snote clue. I liked it because it was a bit hard but not too hard. The line to letter was by far the hardest. I wish we had more time because all we needed was 30 more seconds! I think Pax will be a very good book and I’m exited to read it.


  7. Dear Ms. Smith,
    Hello, I had a lot of fun doing the Breakout EDU. Our group was first to see the envelope and Daniel found the word (xxxxxxxx)< can't tell you or I will be in trouble). I did the word lock which was my favorite lock. We almost broke out but another team beat us just before :(. Now about Pax. I think Pax is going to run to the kid (forgot his name) and find him. Also he will bring back his toy. The kid's dad may die in the war but that's all I'm guessing. Here is a random sword 0--(=======> ;). Elijah

  8. Hello Ms. Smith
    This breakout has been my personal favorite so far. I really liked how the clues kept on trailing on until you found the answer. Our group did really well on splitting everyone up on different clues. The google quiz was very hard to solve because you actually needed to have some background knowledge about foxes. I also like that it was based off a book. The clues were a bit easier because we knew how most of the clues worked. One thing that our group could do better is looking for a lot more clues. I also helped my team by giving everybody different clues. The five letter word Ms. Smith gave us a bit to many clues on that lock. The breakouts were very similar because the clues were a lot the same. Overall, I really liked this breakout.


  9. Hi Ms Smith,

    In my opinion the breakout was incredible. I really liked how it was based off of the book Pax. How my team worked together was we included everyone’s ideas, but we needed to work together more. We found the easiest clue was the directional lock and the hardest was the SNOTE because there was 1 minute left and we were all scrambling and not working as a team. We were all mostly listened to when we had ideas and most of the ideas worked! I noticed with the two breakouts some clues were the same and some were different. I think I really contributed to the team because I solved one lock and helped with most of them, (beside the ones where Kimberly went crazy solving 2-3 by herself.) The new clues that we did were really challenging, but the old ones where easier because we did them before and I understood them better. Overall I think I have gotten better at Breakout.

    My prediction for Pax is that Pax will struggle in the wild, but then he joins a skulk (group) of foxes. But then after at the end, his boy comes back and they live together again.

    That is all I have to say.


  10. Hey Mrs. Smith!

    The Breakout was so fun, and my team got so close! That would be considered “Breaking Out”, wouldn’t it? Aw well, even if it didn’t, I loved that it had foxes, because they’re my second favorite animal, second only to wolves.

    The novel Pax seems amazing, even though I’ve only heard the first chapter. Having a dog myself (not a fox of course), I was able to relate to Peter’s sadness about leaving Pax alone in the woods.

    I love that a novel focuses on an animals point of view, not a human’s.

    I do have a few predictions. It can go one of two ways: either Pax finds Peter at his grandpa’s house by some miracle, or Pax finds a new life in the wild. Either way can work well for me. As long as it doesn’t make me cry. That would be appreciated.

    – Kimberly

  11. Hi Ms. Smith,
    My team and I really worked well on solving clues together. The easiest clue for us to find was the envelope because I just looked over and saw envelopes that were not there before. All of my team’s suggestions were answered. Well I was not sure about the book Pax but now that I have heard a little bit of the book I know more about it. Peter’s dad had to go to war and Peter had to go to his grandfather’s house and he could not bring Pax along so they had to put Pax back in the wild. I think that maybe later on in the book that Peter might find Pax.

    – Kaiya

  12. Dear Mrs. Smith,

    My group did good on finding the clues for the breakout. Some of the clues that we did were harder that others and some clues were easy. We also did well in sharing each other’s ideas. We got stuck on the second page on the iPad. The pig pen was the easiest clue for us.

    I think that Pax will find the little boy later on in the book. And that his dad won’t come back from the war.

  13. Hi Mrs. Smith,

    We were the green team and we were so close to breaking out! I really loved this breakout because it was based on a book. I thought that our team worked very well together and agreed when we needed a hint. The hint cards were a big help in this breakout. I think that was one of the reasons that we almost broke out. I think that in the book Pax he will somehow find his way back to Peter. The start of the book makes me want to read more.


  14. Hi Ms. Smith!
    I love doing Breakouts, they’re so fun! Especially this one. Even though we didn’t breakout I learned so much. One cool thing I learned about was SNOTE. I also learned about teamwork and compassion, as a team we figured out new strategies and almost broke out!

    I’m very excited to read Pax, it sounds so good! I predict that Pax and Peter, two very good friends, will be separated because Peter’s father is joining the army and Peter will have to say goodbye to Pax and move to his grandfather’s house. Then I think that Peter and Pax will go on a journey to find each other but have struggles because a war is going on. I look forward to reading this book and doing more breakouts.

  15. Hi Mrs. Smith!
    Our team (Red team) collaborated well because we agreed when and how to use a try-a-lock and hint cards.

    Our team could have been more effective with using our time because 2 people were being silly and so we spent a lot of time trying to get them to calm down!

    The easiest clue for our team to solve was the word lock because someone immediately got it, came to us and told us he got it! The hardest though was probably directional lock because we got confused with the tail arrows!

    Members of our group were listened to pretty well unless the rest of the group was deeply in conversation but that only happened once.

    I liked the last break out because it was fun to see how the parents reacted but I liked this one too.

    I contributed to my team by giving and accepted ideas. I also tried my best of course.

    If easy is at this end< ----------------!---->-and hard was at this end the ! is were it would be only because we didn’t get the puzzles at first once you get them it’s easier.

    We used past skills when me and 2 others worked on the pig pen cipher. We almost got it! But we never got the Snote.

    What I learned about myself was that my brain is now better at problem solving.

    My compliment for Mr. Hennigar is I love it sooooo much! I think it is a very creative and fun way of getting kids to problem solve!

    Yours truly, Jayden

  16. Hello Ms. Smith
    Our group worked very well, we were the ones that opened all the locks 30 seconds after the timer! We were all very enthusiastic about this game. Everyone was open to other ideas and we had a blast! I think this breakout was the most fun of all!


  17. Dear Mrs. Smith,

    I thought this breakout was the best one of all, first I learned about foxes and I got better and stronger at doing breakouts. Our group worked GREAT together. We all liked each other’s ideas. We only unlocked one lock. I think we had a great time. I liked learning about Pax today. I liked learning about Pax because I LOVE animals.

  18. Hello anyone who’s reading this, today we had a breakout and for anyone who doesn’t know of a breakout its a very good way to do problem solving. If you’re a teacher it’s a great way to make your students collaborate with each other so you can have a stronger class in a fun problem solving way. Breakouts are made of a combination of different locks solved through puzzles and clues. So if you’re a teacher you should try it.-Tyler

  19. Hi Ms. Smith,
    Today was a fun breakout because we didn’t breakout and we got to make sad faces but we did breakout after and we got a book that seems pretty Interesting. I can’t wait to read more. I predict that fox, Pax, is going to find his way back to his human, Peter.
    Yours truly,

  20. Hi Ms. Smith,
    Today at breakout was really fun. It’s disappointing that we didn’t breakout in time, but it was still really fun and we did end up breaking out…after the clock went…but at least we had fun. I’m really excited to continue reading the book that we got in the box. I really hope in the end of the book Peter and Pax reunite.

  21. Hi Ms. Smith,

    I wasn’t at the breakout yesterday but that pictures told me that the students enjoyed the breakout despite not getting out on time. The story sounds great and I see why you made a breakout about it. Congrats on breaking out even if it was 30 seconds over… you guys tried and enjoyed it so that is awesome. I really hope that Peter does well in his journey to find Pax.

  22. Dear Ms. Smith,
    While I was researching about foxes I learned a lot of different facts.
    Did you know that foxes are the only member of the canine family that can climb trees? Grey foxes climb trees to sleep off the ground and to be camouflaged from predators.
    Another interesting fact is the male fox is called the dog fox and the female is called a vixen and the babies are called kits.
    Foxes can be found all over the world even in the Arctic. The Arctic fox has a white coat in the winter to hide from predators. When the weather gets warmer they shed their white coats and become grey.
    I also learned that coyotes and wolves hunt foxes to eat.
    Did you also know that foxes are omnivores which means they eat berries, nuts and small animals like chipmunks, birds and rats.
    Foxes live in dens, hollowed out old trees and caves. The vixen stays home and raises the kits while the dog fox goes out to hunt and bring back food for the family.
    My favorite type of fox is the arctic fox because they are super fluffy and cuddly.
    I learned that foxes are really smart. They learn to stay away from traffic and predators and they teach their kits how to stay away from danger too.
    I like learning about foxes and so far I think the book Pax is sad because Peter had to get rid of his fox friend.

  23. Hello Mrs. Smith.

    I think we did well on the word lock because one of my team-mates found out the word lock. My team could have done the pigpen cypher a bit better because we didn’t do it very fast. The easiest one was the QR code reader one because we knew we had to find words and scramble them. The breakout this time was a bit harder than the others but pretty similar to the others. The different thing was the directional lock. The similar one was the cypher.

    sincerely Connel

  24. Hi Mrs. Smith
    I was not here for that breakout but it looks really fun. I am guessing the them was foxes ? It looks like you guys did not unlock the box. How many locks did you unlock? How many locks were there?


  25. Hi Ms. Smith,
    The breakout was fun because everybody got a chance to work together. I solved the clue with the UV flashlight. We found it hard to find the envelope and we didn’t get to finish the stuff in it. In the book Pax it was a good start. I learned that there are female foxes called vixen and a male is a dog. I predict that the book will have lots of details.
    By !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (aka Evann)

  26. Dear Ms. Smith,

    We did not break out of our breakout. Our team was really close to breaking out.

    I feel bad for Pax and Peter because they are getting split up. Because his dad is going to war and he has to go to grandfather’s house for 6 months and he can’t take Pax. I hope Peter finds Pax and they can be friends again because I know they are really good friends.


  27. Hello Ms. Smith
    I liked the chapter of the book today, it was very interesting. My favorite part was when Peter hid under the bench in the baseball dugout because I love baseball, I am wondering if he will sleep more then an hour and get caught!?


  28. Hi Ms Smith,
    My school in Australia is also reading Pax by Sara Pennypacker. We are up to chapter 10 so we are a bit behind. But so far the book is one of the best books I ever read. The description Sara Pennypacker uses is amazing. Another thing she does is she describes the smallest things. I cringed when Peter broke his foot.
    Please keep posting.

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