ISEB Past Paper 11+ Answers
18th January 2010

The answers below are not the only possible answers, but they should give you a good idea of how to get full marks on this paper.

  1. The top layer is the place where the sky sailors live, sailing their ships above the air. (1)
  2. The writer gets us to think of ourselves as ‘mermaids’ shifting our point of view about what is above us in, and that there might be another world in the sky, or ‘ceiling of blue’ – just like mermaids look up and our world is above them. (1)
  3. The anchor catches in the church because it is the tallest building. (1)
  4. The effect of the word ‘spellbound’ is that its as if all the people are frozen as if someone has cast a spell on them. They all stop and watch because their brains arent processing everything. (2)
  5. The writer tells us Caleb is a sailor to show how he is linked to the sky sailors, and gives us an understandable way of picturing sky-sailors. It shows how similar but also oddly different the sky sailors are like where the sailor is ‘drowning’ – but in air. It also creates sympathy as where we hear of Caleb’s own experiences of being ‘sent over’, and that ‘a sailor’s life is cheap’. (3)
  6. Jack seems curious so it’s understandable that he would want to explore the new realm of this different ‘kind’ of people. He is the first to notice the man and gets more involved, and shouts: “Look there!” and ‘yelled’ “He’s drowning.” He seems more passionate and interested. He is interested in strange things and willing to believe things that other people think are “foolish”. What other people think is foolish, he may find exciting and have a good sense of adventure. (5)

7. (a) This is different because the writer is trying to include the reader using words like ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’, and also appeals directly to the reader by saying ‘if you think’ and ‘just imagine’ which invites the reader to imagine the strange and wonderful ideas. (3)
(b) The purpose of this is to include the reader in this magical world, and help them believe, later, in all the strange and wonderful things that are described. The author says in advance that ‘ships will sail on the upper ocean’ then later he shows us, which makes it easier to believe in this magical story.  (3)

8. Detail ONE The word ‘anchor’ makes us see that it is a ship which is sailing in the sky. The word ‘anchor’ helps us believe because it is something familiar from our world which we can easily imagine. 
Detail TWO When someone cries “A man” – he’s floating in the sky which is incredible, but is clearly recognisable as a person. This mixture of usual and unusual makes the magic easier to picture and has real elements to it. 
Detail THREE: The characters can clearly see they’re from a different land because they say “his kind don’t breathe air”. The writer uses the idea of ‘drowning’ – which he describes in vivid detail – as the man’s cheeks bulge, veins stand out and he looks like he’s holding his breath. This realistic detail linked to an idea we can understand helps us to believe in the character that can’t breathe air. (6)