ISEE Lower Level Reading : Ideas in Literature Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ISEE Lower Level Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #41 : Ideas In Literature Passages

Adapted from The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (1879 Kingston ed.)

Thus talking, we pushed on until we came to a pleasant grove which stretched down to the water's edge. Here, we halted to rest, seating ourselves under a large tree, by a rivulet that murmured and splashed along its pebbly bed into the great ocean before us. A thousand gaily-plumaged birds flew twittering above us, and Fritz and I gazed up at them. 

My son suddenly started up.

"A monkey," he exclaimed. “I am nearly sure I saw a monkey." 

As he spoke, he sprang round to the other side of the tree, and in doing so, stumbled over a small round object. He handed it to me, remarking as he did so that it was a round bird's nest, of which he had often heard. "You may have done so," said I, laughing, "but this is a coconut."

We split open the nut, but, to our disgust, found the kernel dry and uneatable. 

"Hullo," cried Fritz, "I always thought a coconut was full of delicious sweet liquid, like almond milk."

"So it is," I replied, "when young and fresh, but as it ripens the milk becomes congealed, and in course of time is solidified into a kernel. This kernel then dries as you see here, but when the nut falls on favorable soil, the germ within the kernel swells until it bursts through the shell, and, taking root, springs up a new tree."

"I do not understand," said Fritz, "how the little germ manages to get through this great thick shell, which is not like an almond or hazelnut shell, which is divided down the middle already."

"Nature provides for all things," I answered, taking up the pieces. " Look here, do you see these three round holes near the stalk? It is through them that the germ obtains egress. Now let us find a good nut if we can." 

As coconuts must be overripe before they fall naturally from the tree, it was not without difficulty that we obtained one in which the kernel was not dried up. When we succeeded, however, we were so refreshed by the fruit that we could defer eating until later in the day, and so spare our stock of provisions.

Fritz finds the first coconut he encounters __________.

Possible Answers:

floating in the ocean when he goes swimming

being carried away by a large bird, which then drops it

in a tree, held by a monkey, which then drops it

hanging on one of the palm trees

by tripping over it

Correct answer:

by tripping over it

Explanation:

Fritz first encounters a coconut in the passage in its third paragraph, which says, “As he spoke, he sprang round to the other side of the tree, and in doing so, stumbled over a small round object. He handed it to me, remarking as he did so that it was a round bird's nest, of which he had often heard.” At the start of the next paragraph, the narrator identifies this object not as a round bird’s nest, but as a coconut. So, Fritz finds the first coconut he encounters by tripping over it. None of the other answer choices are supported by the passage.

Example Question #42 : Prose Passages

Adapted from "The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

A great conflict was about to take place between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were gathered together, the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said "Come with us," but he said to them, "I am a Beast."

Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said "Come with us," but he said, "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the celebrations, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to run away, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now: he that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

Why does the bat refuse to side with either the birds or the beasts?

Possible Answers:

The bat feels he is a member of both groups. 

The bat is a coward.

The bat is a bird.

The bat is a beast.

The bat does not know how to fight.

Correct answer:

The bat feels he is a member of both groups. 

Explanation:

The bat refuses to fight with either the birds or the beasts because he feels he is a member of both groups. When the birds ask for his assistance, the bat says "I am a Beast," and when the beasts ask for his help, the bat says "I am a Bird."

Example Question #1 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil (1916)

December and January were scarcely good months for taking pictures, but Winona attempted some time exposures, with varying results. It was difficult to make the children realize the necessity of keeping absolutely still, and they ruined several of her pictures by grinning or moving. She secured quite a nice photo of the house, however, and several of the village, and promised herself better luck with family portraits when the summer came round again. She turned a large cupboard in the attic into her dark-room, and spent many hours experimenting with chemicals. She had urgent offers of help, but rejected them steadfastly, greatly to the disappointment of her would-be assistants. In the summer she meant to try all kinds of experiments. She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school. In the meantime she must content herself with landscape and still life.

How did the children ruin several of Winona’s pictures?

Possible Answers:

By refusing to pose

By dancing around

By moving and grinning 

By keeping totally still

By telling jokes

Correct answer:

By moving and grinning 

Explanation:

According to the author the children ruined several of Winona’s pictures “by grinning or moving.” Winona wanted the children to keep absolutely still. 

Example Question #31 : Fiction Passages

Adapted from The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil (1916)

December and January were scarcely good months for taking pictures, but Winona attempted some time exposures, with varying results. It was difficult to make the children realize the necessity of keeping absolutely still, and they ruined several of her pictures by grinning or moving. She secured quite a nice photo of the house, however, and several of the village, and promised herself better luck with family portraits when the summer came round again. She turned a large cupboard in the attic into her dark-room, and spent many hours experimenting with chemicals. She had urgent offers of help, but rejected them steadfastly, greatly to the disappointment of her would-be assistants. In the summer she meant to try all kinds of experiments. She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school. In the meantime she must content herself with landscape and still life.

Which of these is Winona planning to photograph in the summer?

Possible Answers:

Her sports teams

Wild animals 

Wild birds 

Her family

All of the answer choices

Correct answer:

All of the answer choices

Explanation:

The author reveals how Winona is planning to photograph “family portraits when the summer came round again." The author also writes, ”She had visions of rigging up a shelter made of leaves and branches, and taking a series of magnificent snap-shots of wild birds and animals, and she certainly intended to secure records of the sports at school.” This means that she plans to photograph all of the answer choices in the summer. 

Example Question #1 : How To Locate And Analyze Details In Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Lion’s Share" in The Fables of Aesop by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1902)

The Lion once went hunting with the Fox, the Jackal, and the Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and soon took its life. Then came the question of how the spoil should be divided. "Quarter me this Stag," roared the Lion; so the other animals skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: "The first quarter is for me in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter, well, as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a paw upon it." "Humph," grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his legs; but he spoke in a low growl. “You may share the labors of the great, but you will not share the spoil."

Which of these animals is not mentioned in the story?

Possible Answers:

Fox 

Jackal 

Tiger

Wolf

All of these answers 

Correct answer:

Tiger

Explanation:

This story mentions a lion, a jackal, a wolf, a fox, and a deer. It does not mention any tigers.

Example Question #41 : Fiction Passages

Adapted from "The Lion and the Mouse" by Aesop (trans. Jacobs 1909)

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down on top of him; this soon woke up the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon the mouse, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but maybe I shall be able to assist you one of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Sometime after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was in, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse. “Little friends may prove great friends and a small mercy can go a long way.”

Why does the lion not eat the mouse?

Possible Answers:

Lions do not ever eat mice.

The lion is tied down and helpless.

The mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

The mouse is too quick for the lion.

The lion has just eaten and is not hungry.

Correct answer:

The mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

Explanation:

The author says, “The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go.” This tells us that the lion only refuses to eat the mouse because the mouse promises to help the lion in the future.

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