John Carter Teen Reading Project — Instructions and Registration Form

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Dear Students,

First of all, thank you for participating in our project .  A Princess of Mars — a novel that was the Harry Potter of its day –was a massive worldwide hit that has been translated into 56 languages and read by more than 200 million readers around the world.  James Cameron acknowledges that it was this novel–and the others in the series–that inspired him to write Avatar, and George Lucas has similarly acknowledged its influence on Star Wars.
Listen to what some of our teen readers have to say about the book:

Following is a brief introduction to the book and the project, and some questions to keep in mind as you read it.  The project is open to anyone ages 10-17.   Click here to view a trailer of the movie.  And here is the link to the REGISTRATION FORM .


A Princess of Mars tells the story of John Carter, who is transported from Earth to the planet Mars, which he learns is known as Barsoom to its inhabitants which include a race of humans, as well as many other strange and compelling cultures and creatures.  On Barsoom, Carter meets Tars Tarkas, a “Thark”, the leader of a clan of 15 foot high green-hued warriors, and after barely surviving initial attempts by the Tharks to kill him, becomes a captive and learns their language and culture.  While with the Tharks, he meets a fellow captive–Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium–the proud Princess of the title of the book, and Carter finds himself falling in love and becoming deeply involved in the battles and intrigues on Barsoom as he fights to win Dejah Thoris and, ultimately, save his adopted planet from destruction.
Edgar Rice Burroughs writes in a style that is lively and action-packed – but includes the use of words and sentence constructions that will sound a little “foreign” to you at the beginning.  But you’ll quickly get used to it — and once the action starts, it never stops.  Here is an example of the language:
I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew that I was on Mars; not once did I question either my sanity or my wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching here; my inner consciousness told me as plainly that I was upon Mars as your conscious mind tells you that you are upon Earth. You do not question the fact; neither did I……
Springing to my feet I received my first Martian surprise, for the effort, which on Earth would have brought me standing upright, carried me into the Martian air to the height of about three yards. I alighted softly upon the ground, however, without appreciable shock or jar. Now commenced a series of evolutions which even then seemed ludicrous in the extreme. I found that I must learn to walk all over again, as the muscular exertion which carried me easily and safely upon Earth played strange antics with me upon Mars….
[two paragraphs later he hears a sound and turns to discover….]

On such a little thing my life hung that I often marvel that I escaped so easily. Had not the rifle of the leader of the party swung from its fastenings beside his saddle in such a way as to strike against the butt of his great metal shod spear I should have snuffed out without ever knowing that death was near me. But the little sound caused me to turn, and there upon me, not ten feet from my breast, was the point of that huge spear, a spear forty feet long, tipped with gleaming metal, and held low at the side of… this huge and terrific incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of death. The man himself, for such I may call him, was fully fifteen feet in height and, on Earth, would have weighed some four hundred pounds. He sat his mount as we sit a horse, grasping the animal’s barrel with his lower limbs, while the hands of his two right arms held his immense spear low at the side of his mount; his two left arms were outstretched laterally to help preserve his balance, the thing he rode having neither bridle or reins of any description for guidance.

And his mount! How can earthly words describe it! It towered ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad flat tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held straight out behind while running; a gaping mouth which split its head from its snout to its long, massive neck.

This is the moment where John Carter adventure truly begins — and from this moment on, the story never lets up and the reader is drawn into the world of Barsoom.  You will find that if you just give yourself a few pages to get into the flow John Carter’s way of telling his story, you’ll become accustomed to the way the story is told……just give it a few pages.  (Hint: This is not a school assignment and the story really takes off with “Chapter 3 – My Advent on Mars“, so if you want to skim the first two chapters to get to where the action starts, it’s okay, no harm no foul.  From Chapter 3 on, however, you won’t want to miss a page).
There will be a questionnaire for you to answer when you have finished reading.  To prepare you to be able to answer the questionnaire, here are some basic questions to keep in mind as you read the book:
Questions about your reaction to the experience of reading A Princess of Mars
  • Does the story hold your interest?
  • Would you recommend it to your friends?
  • Do you want to read the next book in the series?  Will you read it?
  • What characters do you like best?
  • What characters do you like least?
  • What scenes are most memorable?
Questions about the Story
  • Which planet do you think the author prefers — Barsoom or Earth?  Why?
  • Think about the female characters Dejah Thoris and Sola, and compare and contrast them to female characters in modern day books you have read.  What is different about they way they are presented?  What is the same?
  • How is the culture of the Tharks (the green Martian clan that Tars Tarkas and Sola belong to) different from early human cultures (i.e. Native American, Aboriginal, or early African cultures)?
  • Do you think the science of Barsoom in 1865 is more advanced that that on Earth today?  Or is Earth more advanced?
  • There is much discussion on Earth about climate change and the problems it presents.  What is the cause of climate change on Barsoom — and what is the solution?
Here’s how to get started:
When you finish reading, we will provide you with a questionnaire which you will need to answer completely in order to complete the project.   If you have any questions, just send an email to and/or
Thank you for your participation!


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