This month we’re reading the third book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Checkmate.
Perfect for classrooms, libraries and book clubs, these notes will get you talking.
Malorie Blackman originally intended Checkmate to be the last title in the Noughts & Crosses sequence and has described it as ‘an incredibly challenging book to write’ that took her two years. The story moves forward sixteen years to show how the past has a powerful effect on the present with Rose, Sephy’s daughter, growing up-and learning the truth about her past. For Sephy has told her nothing of her father and she is given only a skewed point of view when she meets up with her Uncle Jude, who hates Sephy and will not stop at using Rose to get at her. As Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into Jude’s world, he is leading her into a dangerous, deadly game-a game of very high stakes that can have only one winner . . .
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT
1. THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PAST
It is clear in Chapter 10 that Sephy is not telling her daughter, Rose, the truth about her father – that he was a member of a terrorist
– Do you think she is right to keep the truth from Rose?
– If she had told Rose, at what age do you think Rose would have been ready to learn the truth?
– How does Rose feel when her neighbour, Tobey, tells her about Callum McGregor?
– What would you feel if you discovered a story like this in your own family
2. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ROSE?
When Lucas asks this question in chapter 18, unconsciously reflecting the prejudice of his father, it is Rose’s first real awareness of
– How does Sephy try to explain it to her daughter?
– Are there other moments in her childhood where Rose is discriminated against because of her dual heritage?
How does she, or Sephy , deal with any incidents like this?
– How do you think she feels when she overhears her mother and grandmother talking about her friend Tobey and Meggie wanting her
to ‘do better’?
3. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST NOUGHTS
Checkmate is set mostly at least a decade after the events in Noughts & Crosses and Knife Edge but it is clear that there is
still a strong sense of the Noughts being considered inferior to the ruling Crosses.
– Sephy says (chapter 21) that ‘things have got better…’ while Meggie believes that ‘this society expects the least and
condemns the most when it comes to my son, and Tobey, and all other nought men’. Which of the two is right?
– Is Meggie right when she states that being with Tobey or any other nought could cause problems for Callie Rose?
– If you have read the earlier books in the sequence, what has changed for the better since then? Or has nothing changed?
4. ROSE…OR CALLIE?
– Why does Sephy always call her daughter only ‘Rose’ as she grows up?
– Why does Callie Rose decide she wants to use her full name (chapter 49) and do you understand her reasons?
5. ‘A LITTLE SEED HERE…A SPLASH OF WATER THERE’
– Jude grooms Callie slowly into becoming an instrument of his revenge.
– How does he initially gain her confidence and trust?
– What experiences does he lead her towards to ensure that she will agree with him more and more?
– And when do you think she makes the final decision to commit herself fully to the cause of the L.M. Do
you find her motives believable? Do you think you would be prepared to do the same in similar circumstances?
– Can an act such as that planned by Jude ever be justified for political purposes?
6. DYING OF EMBARRASSMENT
– When Jasmine is diagnosed with cancer, Sephy claims that her gravestone could easily read ‘Here lies Jasmine Hadley. She
died of embarrassment.’ What does she mean?
7. TWO LETTERS…AND A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
– In chapter 71, Jude shows Callie Rose one letter written by her father Callum to her mother, Sephy. What effect does reading
this letter have on Callie Rose?
– Sephy then produces a second letter (chapter 94). How different is this from the first letter? How does Sephy explain the
existence of the two letters and do you believe her?
8. NATHAN…OR SONNY?
– How do Sephy and Callie Rose resolve their problems while they are in the cellar? What truths about her mother does Callie
Rose now learn?
– Who do you think Sephy will choose to spend her life with?
– Why do you think she finds it so hard to forget the past and move on?
– What do you think will influence her decision?
9. LUCAS…OR TOBEY?
– What are the differences in the way Callie Rose feels about the two boys?
– Who do you think she should go out with? Why?
10. THE ISIS HOTEL CONFRONTATION
– Were you surprised by the arrival of Meggie in the room?
– What do you think would have happened if Jude had answered her question about Cara Imega
differently? Would Jasmine still have carried out her plan?
– Were you shocked by this ending?
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