Page 57. " He used to think he wanted to work for the F.B.I. "
F.B.I. badge and gun
Public DomainF.B.I. badge and gun - Credit: F.B.I. / Wikimedia Commons

The F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is the USA’s national security and law enforcement agency. They investigate federal crimes, which are crimes prosecuted under federal law rather than state law, e.g. kidnapping, bank robbery, tax evasion, counterfeiting, immigration crimes, and assassinating the president. Crimes that cross state boundaries such as mail fraud and aircraft hijacking are also prosecuted under federal law. The F.B.I. also takes on intelligence responsibilities, such as protecting the country from terrorist, cybercrime, and foreign intelligence threats.

Find out more on the F.B.I. website.


The F.B.I. often has a glamorous role in popular media, either as the ‘good guys’ protecting the country from threats as varied as spies and aliens, or as the mysterious black-suited men who enact sinister government conspiracies.

Page 58. " Now he had such a huge smile it almost seemed too big for his face, like the smile on a jack-o’-lantern "
Public DomainJack-O'-Lantern - Credit: Man vyi / Wikimedia Commons

A Jack-o’-Lantern is a pumpkin carved with a grinning or evil face for the holiday of Halloween. Usually the pumpkin’s inside flesh is scooped out and a candle placed inside so that the carved face is lit with a spooky glow. Most Jack-o’-Lanterns have a wide smile that stretches across the width of the pumpkin.


The Jack-o’-Lantern tradition probably originated in Ireland, where on the holiday of Samhain lamps were made from turnips with faces carved into them. This is the time of year when fairies, spirits and evil beings were most active, and so the lamps were most likely used either to appease these creatures or to frighten them away.

Page 62. " It looks like an old shotgun shell "
A shotgun shell being discarded after firing a shotgun
Public DomainA shotgun shell being discarded after firing a shotgun - Credit: United States Government / Wikimedia Commons

A shotgun is a weapon that fires shot (small lead balls) or a slug (a heavy lead bullet). The shotgun shell is the cartridge that contains the shot or slug and the gunpowder and primer. When the gun is fired, the shot or slug is projected out of the cartridge, and the empty shotgun shell is discarded.


Page 75. " I feel sorry for the little old lady who lived in a shoe. It must have smelled awful "

Folding card showing the nursery rhyme, 1883
Public DomainFolding card showing the nursery rhyme, 1883 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stanley is referring to an English nursery rhyme of unknown origin:


“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

Who had so many children she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them some broth without any bread,

Then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.”


It is possible that this rhyme is connected to fertility rites involving shoes, or that it is meant to poke fun at George II and his wife Caroline (who had eight children), but the meaning behind the words is much disputed.