The Seer of Shadows

By Avi
Level 5.2
6 points
Chapter 1
Setting takes place in October 1872 in New York.
Narrator is a young boy- apprentice to a
photographer named Mr. Middleditch who doesn’t
get much business.
A black servant girl makes an appointment for her
Mistress, Mrs. Von Macht.
Vocabulary I Want to Learn About:
befogged, somber, garb- p. 1
deferential, devoid, brooding, apprentice cartes de visite, presumption, curt - p. 2
foretell- p. 3
O. Mr. M is probably not a very good
photographer if he doesn’t get a lot of
Q. I wonder what extraordinary events will
Chapter 2
Get to know the main character, Horace Carpentine.
Smart, responsible, eager to learn, youngest of 3 children.
Left home at age 14 to learn science of photography.
Raised during time of Civil War- does not seem to agree with
idea of slavery.
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
upheaval, wafted, fervent, Abolition, bunkum- p. 4
milliner, dubbed, martyred- p. 5
daguerreotype- p. 6
Q. Who is Horace Greeley? He must have done something
important if Horace’s dad named him after the man.
Q. If Mr. M rarely had any business, why would he tell Horace’s
dad that he was very successful and quite wealthy? Is he a liar?
Q. Other worlds? Is the black servant girl from another world?
Horace Greeley
February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872
Horace Greeley was an
American newspaper editor.
His New York Tribune was
the most influential paper
from the 1840s to the 1870s.
He was highly opposed to
slavery and even ran for
President in 1872. Sadly, he
died before the votes were
ever counted.
The Silver Sunbeam: A
Practical and Theoretical
Text-Book on Sun Drawing
and Photographic Printing
is actually a real book and can be
purchased on Amazon for $25.65
Daguerreotype was the first successful photographic
process invented by Louis Daguerre.
This daguerreotype is the earliest-known photograph of
Abraham Lincoln, taken at age 37 when he was a frontier
lawyer in Springfield and Congressman-elect from Illinois.
(Source: Ostendorf, p. 4)
Cameras, Then & Now!
Nikon DSLR 3000
Wet-Plate Field Camera
Vocabulary I Want to Know About
Chapter 1
Befogged- unclear, in a fog
Somber- gloomy, dark, dull
Garb- clothes
Deferential- respectful, courteous
Devoid- lacking, not having
Brooding- daydreaming of
depressing thoughts
Apprentice- person who works for
another to learn a trade
Cartes de visite- photos sized like
trading cards
Presumption- reason for believing
Curt- brief, rude
Foretell- predict
Chapter 2
Upheaval- catastrophe
Wafted- to float through the air or
over water
Fervent- heartfelt; hot, burning
Abolition- the ending of slavery
Bunkum- nonsense talk
Milliner- a person who designs,
sells or makes hats for women
Dubbed- nickname, designate
Martyred- a person who dies
because of their beliefs
Daguerreotype- one of the
earliest photographic processes,
in which the image was produced
on iodine-sensitized silver and
developed in mercury vapor
Chapter 3
Got to know Mr. M. He was in fact a liar. He greatly
exaggerated his status to Horace’s dad. Mr. M actually
struggled as a photographer.
Mr. M. is lazy and lets Horace do all the tedious parts of
photography while he kisses up to customers and takes their
Vocabulary I Want to Learn About:
derivation, absurdly- p. 8
tinged, eke, aperture- p. 9
R. Horace sleeps in the kitchen?! He must really want to
learn this trade.
R. What a phony Mr. M is! I can’t believe Horace still sees
this as a good opportunity. Horace must have a lot of
patience. Maybe he doesn’t really have a choice either, but
to accept Mr. M the way he is and just learn about
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
Derivation- beginning, origin
Absurdly- senseless, illogical
Tinged- stain, saturate
Eke- stretch, supplement
Aperture- an adjustable opening in an optical instrument
such as a camera.
Chapter 4
Mrs. Von Macht arrives for her appointment.
She is wealthy and in mourning.
Her daughter, Eleanora, died at the age of 13 from
Scarlet Fever.
Mrs. Von Macht brings up the idea of ghosts.
Vocabulary I Want Know About:
reticule- p. 11
demurely, hastened, brilliantine- p. 13
stammered- p. 16
R. Mr. M is such a LOSER!! Pretending to be busy when he really isn’t! Only
thinking of money when this poor woman is mourning her daughter. He annoys me!
Q. Who is she mourning?
C. Mr. M kind of reminds me of Uncle Vernon, not only in physical appearance, but
also in the way they are both sneaky and dishonest.
Q. What is Scarlet Fever?
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
reticule- a small purse or bag; network of fine lines
demurely- modest, reserved
hastened- to hurry
brilliantine- an oily preparation used to make the hair lustrous
stammered- hesitate, repeat
Chapter 5
Learned of Mrs. Von Macht’s daughter.
Mrs. Von Macht wants Mr. M to photograph her so she can
leave the photo at Eleanora’s grave to comfort her.
Mr. Middleditch has agreed to photograph her at her home.
Pegg, the servant girl, reveals that Eleanora did not die of
Scarlet Fever.
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
commission- p. 18
oblige, scullery- p.19
P. Mr. M will take advantage of Mrs. Von Macht and raise prices just because she is
wealthy and knows cost is no a concern for her. He could even prolong the photo
Q. Pegg keeps shaking her head at what Mrs. Von Macht says. Does she know
Q. How did Eleanora die? Did mother have something to do with it?
R. Ha! Mr. M thinks he was chosen for his reputation and Mrs. Von Macht really has
no idea who he is!!
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
commission- special permission to be in charge or carry out a
 oblige- to agree to, promise
 scullery- a small room or section of a pantry in which food is
cleaned, trimmed, and cut into cooking portions before being sent
to the kitchen.
Chapter 6
Mr. Middleditch comes up with a scheme to fool Mrs. Von Macht
into believing Eleanora is in the photo with her.
 He is going to trick her in order to make a profit!
 Horace thinks this is horrible, but has no say in the decision.
Vocabulary I Want to Know About:
mundane- (boring?) p. 24
Folly- (mistakes?) p. 26
gusto- (delight?) p. 27
O. Horace is very respectful, kind and caring. He always remembers Eleanora’s name.
Mr. M can’t seem to.
P. Mr. M will pretend to “see” Eleanora’s ghost to keep Mrs. Von Macht around to spend
more money on pictures.
R. Mr. M is so full of himself! Very selfish and insensitive.
Vocabulary I Want to Know:
mundane- common, ordinary, everyday
 folly- stupidity
 gusto- liking, delight
Chapter 7
Mr. M gave a spy camera to Horace and wanted him to take secret
pictures of Eleanora (via her portraits)
 Horace does not like the idea of tricking Mrs. Von Macht, but Mr. M
wants him to, so Horace must follow his orders.
 Mr. M is trying to convince Horace that this idea is ok and promises
he will not force Mrs. Von Macht to make any judgments.
Vocabulary I Want to Know:
burly (rough, chunky?)
suppress (hold back)
jest (joke, like a jester)
Q. Stirn Concealed Vest Camera- is it a spy camera?
R. Wow! That’s really selfish of Mr. M. He wants to use a sneaky tactic to make
money off of Mrs. Von Macht.
P. Will use spy camera to take pics of Eleanora.
Q. Is Horace really going to go through with it? I think he probably will because
he doesn’t want to get sent home. He has to learn this trade.
Vocabulary I Want to Know:
burly- large in bodily size; beefy, hefty
 suppress- to hold back or do away with
 jest- joke
Stirn Concealed Vest Camera
In 1886 C. P. Stirn bought the rights to make a unique kind of
vest pocket camera that was invented by Robert D. Gray and
first produced by Western Electric Co. in New York. Rudolf
Stirn lived in the German capital Berlin where he
manufactured vest cameras for his brother C. P. Stirn. From
1886 to 1888 15,000 examples of their Concealed Vest
Camera were sold. The camera had to be loaded with a round
film plate, 14 cm or 17cm in diameter. The round brass body
with the exposure dial (with or without clock hand) and the
funnel type lens barrel gave it an unique appearance. Two
main types were made, one for making four 6cm wide round
exposures on a round film plate with a diameter of 17cm, the
other with smaller lens funnel, for making six 4cm wide round
exposures on a round plate with a diameter of 14cm. This
camera type fits not only in a vest pocket, it can be hidden in it
so that the narrow lens opening looks through the vest
pocket's buttonhole. Thus the camera got its popular type
name "buttonhole camera", but also detective camera, spy
camera, and last not least vest pocket camera. The cameras
were marketed in the U.S. and Canada by Stirn & Lyon in New
Chapter 8
Mr. M and Horace arrive at the Von Macht house. We get a visual
of 5th Avenue area- very wealthy.
Horace sets up photo plates in scullery as Pegg watches and they
begin to talk about the photo process and then about Eleanora.
Eleanora died because she was neglected by Von Machts.
Eleanora was not Von Macht’s daughter!
Only the one portrait of Eleanora in the house- Mrs. Von Macht lied
about the house being full of her pictures.
Pegg and Eleanora were like sisters.
Vocabulary I Want to Know:
perambulator (stroller?), bootblacks (homeless?), loitering (hanging around?),
omnibuses (bus?)- p. 37
akin (similar?), cornices (base that holds the flames?)- p. 38
swindle (trick?), monotony (single tone?), immensely (hugely?)- p. 39
intolerance (not able to tolerate)- p. 40
agitated (bothered?)- p. 45
Chapter 8 con’t:
V. When the author described the scene on 5th avenue I got a really
good image in my mind of what people were dressed in, as well as
what types of transportation were used back then. This helped me
understand the time period a little better.
V. I also was able to visualize the scullery better and see the actual
items in there and tell what it smelled like.
R/P. I am glad Pegg and Horace are talking. Maybe they will
become friends.
R. What?! Eleanora was not the Von Macht’s daughter?
R. They killed her! Maybe she is restless b/c she wants revenge?
Q. Why did they kill her? They must have wanted something she

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