Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World (Penguin Active Reading)
Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World is a 2007 novelization and activity book based on the 2005 film King Kong. It was created as part of Pearson Education, Ltd.'s Penguin Active Reading series of books used primarily to teach English as a new language. It is written within the line's "Level 2" parameters, meaning that it is written at an elementary level. It was adapted to the Penguin Active Reading format by Coleen Degnen-Veness.
It is comprised of a short novelization of the film, several thought and reading comprehension activities at the end of each chapter, and two CD-ROMs with a full reading of the text and additional activities. Activities on the CD-ROM include a word search, crossword, a matching game, and a pelmanism-style matching game.
Ann Darrow is an actor with no work and no money. Carl Denham wants to make a movie- but not in the United States. A long, long, way from New York there is an island. And on that island lives the giant King Kong. When Carl, Ann, and the other actors arrive, Kong gets very, very angry. Who will live- and who will die?
It is 1933, and Ann Darrow is out of work after the closure of the Lyric Theatre. Zealous movie maker Carl Denham's studio is not enthusiastic about his latest picture and are prepared to pull funding. His main actress has dropped out of the project, and his ship sets sail in three hours. While passing a fruit stand, he saves Darrow when she tries to steal the vendor's wares. He takes her to a restaurant and she agrees to join his film upon hearing that it was being written by Jack Driscoll. Aboard the ship, already en route to its undisclosed location, Driscoll is quite unhappy with the situation. Neither he nor the actor Bruce Baxter have high hopes for Darrow's acting, and the writer is forced to sleep in a room typically used for animals with the crew's stash of chloroform. Carl finally discloses their destination, Skull Island, to Jack so that he can continue writing. The sailor Ben Hayes soon realizes that the ship isn't going in the usual direction, and is convinced that something bad will happen, despite Englehorn's willingness to overlook the danger. Jack quickly warms to Darrow, who takes her work very seriously, but Denham's helper Preston is uneasy about the idea of Skull Island. This sentiment is shared by Hayes, whose young friend Jimmy told him about Skull Island after hearing Carl and Jack discussing it. At breakfast, they and Lumpy confront Denham with a story about a man they found on an island in 1926. He had escaped Skull Island, and the fearsome giant gorilla Kong that lived there, but the man killed himself soon after his rescue. The sailors insist to the unfazed Denham that if he goes to Skull Island, he will not be coming back. Preston, who had taken Carl's map, later insists that Carl tell the rest of the film crew about the dangers of the island, but Carl is unwilling to listen. In his spare time, Jack begins writing a new movie for Ann to star in.
The ship arrives at the island and quickly hits rocks and begins taking on water. Despite this, Denham takes his crew ashore. There, while filming Ann screaming, they hear a strange animal roar somewhere on the island. Carl excitedly runs deeper into the island and up some stairs to discover hundreds of skulls, ancient ruins, and a lone little girl. Soon, more islanders appear and begin to attack. The animal roars again and rain begins to fall as an old woman shouts angrily at Ann. They kill some of the crew before Englehorn and his men arrive with guns and scare them off. When all the survivors are back on the ship, Englehorn gives the order to lighten the ship and throw everything overboard. Carl agrees with Preston and Herb the cameraman to finish the movie for their fallen friend Mike, and narrowly saves his camera from going overboard, despite Englehorn's insistence that it go. No one notices one of the islanders sneaking on board and kidnapping Ann. Jack awakens after a blow to the head, and begins searching for Ann, but only finds her empty cabin and a dead sailor. Just as the ship gets light enough to sail away, Jack tells the crew that Ann had been taken. Ann is dragged through the water under the arm of a man connected to the shore by a rope being pulled by more men on the beach. She is taken to a ceremony where they intend to give her as an offering to the roaring animal on the other side of the wall. Ann is approached by the giant gorilla Kong, who takes her and runs into the jungle. Englehorn and the sailors arrive in the village to rescue her, but are too late. Carl sees her get taken away by Kong, and Englehorn gives them ten men and 24 hours to get Ann and come back. When they go through the gate, they are attacked by two dinosaurs which they manage to kill. Both Ann and the group of sailors see the jungle floor littered with skulls, and fear for her safety. In the morning hours, the sailors rest for a moment as Carl, Herb, and Bruce Baxter begin filming a scene but are quickly attacked by dinosaurs. In the ensuing stampede, many men are lost. They scramble to some high ground, but lose Herb in the process. Lumpy, Jack, and the rest of the crew are very angry with Carl, but he convinces Preston to continue the film. Many sailors leave the party. As Kong runs through the jungle, two dinosaurs try to eat Ann, but he defeats them with no trouble. He sits her down to rest and she tries to escape, but Kong catches her, before leaving her behind. The men then craft boats to cross a swamp, but they are attacked by a giant fish. Most of them make it to the other side, where Jimmy shoots a dinosaur, saving Hayes' life. Now free from Kong, Ann finds herself pursued by two dinosaurs. She hides from them, and two more approach and they all begin to fight. Ann flees again, but is approached by an even larger dinosaur. She screams, and Kong arrives to save her. He breaks the dinosaur's skull, and when another comes he dispatches it with equal ease. Kong prepares to leave her, honoring her wish for solitude, but she follows him, and he allows it. When he hears the sound of gunshots, he places her high on a rock and goes toward the sailors.
Hayes leads the men across a log bridging a deep crevice but quickly feels eyes on him from from the ruins on the other side. Kong emerges and grabs him. Jack keeps Jimmy from running after him, and Hayes shoots Kong in the face. Kong then throws the sailor against the cliff face, and throws the log into the pit. Those who survive are quickly set upon by ugly underground animals. Preston, Bruce Baxter, and Captain Englehorn arrive with guns and kill many of the animals. The rest scatter, but Lumpy had already been killed. Englehorn is furious at Denham, who soon begins conspiring to capture Kong when Jack returns with Ann. Kong takes Ann from atop the rock, and travel through the jungle, where they find a statue of another giant gorilla. Seeing it, and Ann's recognition of the statue of being like him, Kong realizes how hideous he must seem to her. Depressed at this notion, he takes her to his lair atop a mountain, where she sees the skeletons of his family, and understands how lonely he must be. They bond over the beautiful sunset, but Jack is already climbing the mountain to take Ann away. He wakes Ann, but Kong soon follows and tries to smash him. While he fights Jack, giant birds begin to try and take Ann away. Kong begins to fight the birds, and Jack and Ann try to escape down a vine. Kong sees them, but they grab hold of a passing bird's foot, and drop into a river. They make their way back to the wall, but find that the bridge to the other side is up. Jack calls for Carl, and Ann is convinced that they have been left behind. Kong is hot on their heels, and Carl refuses to lower the bridge. Preston defies his former boss, and cuts the rope to lower it. The rope snaps back and scars his face, but Jack and Ann are able to cross safely. Kong leaps over the crevice and begins to hammer his fists at a weak point in the wall until he breaks through. The sailors were waiting for him with a "large bag" and chains. Jack and Ann want the men to stop, but Englehorn throws chloroform in Kong's face, and sailors atop the wall throw big rocks at his head. Kong breaks free and chases the fleeing sailors despite Ann's protests. He destroys their escape boat, but Carl is able to bring him down with another bottle of chloroform.
Kong debuts on Broadway in New York City as "Kong: the Giant Gorilla from a Past World." No one but Carl is happy about it, and Jack leaves a performance of his new show to look for Ann at the Alhambra theater where Kong is being displayed. Preston approaches him, and they watch Denham on stage, with the pathetic-looking chained Kong. Jack realizes that some other woman is playing the role of Ann just before Kong does, and he becomes angry. Preston and Jack try to empty the theater, but no one listens until Kong breaks free. He tramples many people on his way out of the theater, and begins searching for Ann. Elsewhere, Ann leaves the theater where she has found work as a dancer, and runs toward the sounds of mayhem and distress, knowing Kong was there. Jack tries to lead Kong out of the city, but crashes his car. He then sees Kong approaching Ann in the street. Kong takes Ann and climbs to the rooftops to escape the police and their guns. He soon sees the Empire State Building, and begins to climb it. Ann knows that this cannot end well, but the two appreciate the sunrise together before airplanes arrive. They shoot at Kong, and he tries to protect Ann and fight them off, while she tries to protect him, hoping they will not shoot if she is present. Unfortunately, it is too late for Kong. Ann cries and holds his finger before he falls from the building. Jack arrives to accompany her, and admits that he loves her. The two embrace, mourning the tragedy. Around Kong's body at the foot of the building, newspaper reporters question Kong's motivations, and Carl arrives to proclaim that "He couldn't have her, so he had to die."
Differences from the Film
As a teaching aid first and adaptation second, a number of changes are necessarily changed for the book's target audience.
- All of the dialogue, when it appears, is considerably truncated, and much of the nuance is removed in favor of simple, short sentences and clear statements of motivation.
- While it may be a way of writing around the word "cage," Jack is described as staying in a room on the ship. Despite this, it is clarified that it was still usually used to house animals.
- While the film states that Lumpy and Hayes encountered a survivor from Skull Island four years prior to the film's 1933 setting, this book gives it a hard date of 1926, six years prior to the events of the story.
- Hayes and Lumpy have explicit knowledge of Skull Island and Kong's identity as a giant gorilla.
- Jack writes a new movie for Ann to star in, as opposed to the play "Cry Havoc!"
- To aid in reading comprehension, the names of the Skull Island creatures are never spoken, and are referred to with simple placeholders. Only images of the Vastatosaurus rex accompany the descriptions, which would imply that it is the only dinosaur in this story.
- Choy is never named in the story, although his existence is implied when "Lumpy's best friend" is said to have died in the crevice.
- Preston is one of the party who turns back to the village alongside Bruce Baxter, and helps rescue the survivors of the pit.
- Due to the complex nature of the word "net," in this adaptation, Kong is captured in a large bag.
- Kong makes his Broadway debut as "Kong: the Giant Gorilla from a Past World."
- The phrase "Beauty and the Beast" and the associated theming are absent from this adaptation. Because of this, Denham ends the story with the words "He knew. He couldn't have her, so he had to die."
- This adaptation gives Kong explicit dialogue when he thinks the phrase "To this beautiful woman, I am an ugly monster."
- While it is only Ann's supposition, the text supports the idea that the other skeletons in Kong's lair may belong to Kong's mother, Kong's brother, or his wife. Kong's father has already been confirmed as one of the skeletons.
- The Terapusmordax are replaced by "giant birds." In early drafts, and some supplementary material for the original King Kong, the Pteranodons that the Terapusmordax replace are also referred to as birds.
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