Page 127. " Stanley could count more than thirty seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. That was how far away the storm was "

 Lightning is an electrical discharge that streaks in a bolt from the sky to the ground. This happens when a cloud builds up a high electrical charge. The thunder heard after each bolt is actually the sound of the air around the bolt expanding. This happens at the same time as the lightning, but because sound travels more slowly than light, the flash appears before the thunder is heard.


Although speed of sound depends on factors such as humidity, roughly speaking sound travels about 1 mile in 5 seconds. It is therefore possible to estimate how far away lightning is from the time between the flash and the noise. 10 seconds between flash and rumble means the storm is about 2 miles away. More than 30 seconds means that the storm is over 6 miles away from Stanley.


Page 128. " Forty days and forty nights,” said X-Ray. “Guess we better start building us an ark. Get two of each animal, right? "
Noah's Ark
Public DomainNoah's Ark - Credit: Edward Hicks / Wikimedia Commons

The story of Noah’s Ark can be found in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament in the Christian Bible). God became angry with the world and its sinful people, and sent a flood to destroy it. He ordered the good man Noah to build a giant wooden ark to save his family, and to bring two of every kind of animal onboard. When the flood waters receded after forty days and forty nights, Noah and his family, and all the animals, were able to re-populate the world.


Page 144. " He’s a ward of the state "

A ward of the state is a child or adult placed under the protection of the court, meaning that the court makes legal and medical decisions on behalf of that person. A government agency will usually be appointed to oversee the ward’s affairs. An orphan under the care of a government welfare agency, a person with mental illness or one who is mentally or physically incapacitated enough to need caring for in a government institution, and in some cases indigenous peoples (in Canada for instance), might become wards of the state.


Page 145. " He claimed he could break into a car, disconnect the alarm, and hot-wire the engine "

 Hot-wiring is a method of starting a car without using the key to start ignition. This is achieved by connecting two wires to complete the circuit, which is the result normally reached by turning the key.

New security measures in modern cars are making this increasingly difficult.