2014-2015 Discussion Questions

The Read On Wisconsin Advisory Committee and CCBC librarians have developed sample discussion questions for all the Read On Wisconsin titles from September – May of each year. These discussion starters can be used to encourage children and teens to think more deeply about Read On Wisconsin books.

In developing questions, we kept the Common Core State Standards broadly in mind, trying to make sure every book (especially for kindergarten and older) had at least one or two questions that required a response based on information/evidence that can be found in the text itself, rather than merely asking readers to provide an opinion or to use the book as a launching point for personal reflection (although we included questions like those as well).  We emphasized open-ended questions, although we occasionally deviated from these, especially when asking younger students to find facts in a work of non-fiction.

We bet readers and listeners will have plenty of insights and observations of their own to share as well!

The books and questions are listed in chronological order (September – May) for each group.

[Preschoolers|Primary|Intermediate|Middle School|High School]

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers[top]

The Discussion Questions for the Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers books include a mix of questions and suggestions for other ways to interact with young children while sharing the books.Not every question or suggestion will be suitable for all children—use what makes sense based on the age(s) of the child or children you are with.

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Schwartz & Wade, 2013.

1.  What does Sophie like about Bernice?

2. What are some of the things Sophie does to take good care of Bernice?

3. What do you think will happen to Bonnie and Baxter?

Little Mouse by Alison Murray. U.S. edition: Disney / Hyperion, 2013.

1. When do you feel gray?

2. What does your family call you when you are feeling quiet and cuddly?

3. What funny sounds can you make?

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems selected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Candlewick Press, 2010.

1. Which poem reminds you of one of your bedtime routines?

2. What poems made you feel happy? Worried? Quiet? Loud?

3. Find the moon through out the book. How many times is the moon pictured in the book?

Matilda and Hans by Yokococo. U.S. edition:  Templar / Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. Do you know someone nice like Matilda? Do you know someone naughty like Hans?

2. What kind of mask do you like to wear?

3. Were you surprised by the ending to the story?

Wild Berries by Julie Flett.  Simply Read Books, 2013.

1. What kind of blueberries does Clarence like? What kind does his grandma like?

2. What do you like to do outdoors with your family?

3. This book has words in English and in the Cree language. Can you say some of these words? (Teachers/Librarians/Caregivers: There’s a pronunciation guide at the end of the book.)

Turkey Tot by George Shannon Holiday House, 2013.

1. What do you think Turkey is making when you read the story?

2. How would you solve the problem?

3. How can being different be good?

Run Home, Little Mouse by Britta Teckentrup.  Translated from the German.  U.S. edition:  Kids Can Press, 2013.

1. What seven animals do you see in the forest on the first page?

2. Look through the hole and what do you see?

3. Count the mice on the last page.

Quinito’s Neighborhood = El Vecindario de Quinito by Ina Cumpiaño. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Children’s Book Press, 2005.

1. Do you know someone with one of these jobs? Which job would you like to do?

2. What do people in your family do in your neighborhood or town?

3. Who are some of the people you might meet on a walk in your neighborhood?

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd. Chronicle, 2013.

1. Which shapes can you find and name?

2. How many patterns can you find? Describe the patterns.

3. What do you see through the windows?

Big Snow by Jonathan Bean. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

1. Which white things in the story make David think of snow?

2. What do you think David and his parents will do in the snow? What do you like to do in the snow?

3. What are some of the words used to describe the snow?

Little You by Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2013.

1. Who is holding the baby?

2. What do you see in the sky?

3. Find something red.

Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth. Peachtree Publishers, 2013.

1. What would you do if you found a tiger in your soup?

2. Look at the end pages, how many tigers and boys can you count?

3. What kind of soup do you like?

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale. Peachtree Publishers, 2013.

1. Where do you see stripes? Where do you see spots? What colors do you see?

2. In the book, what places do the animals, insects, fish and birds live?

3. Find the activity page for further exploration.

Which Is Round? Which Is Bigger? by Mineko Mamada. Translated from the Japanese by Yvette Ghione. U.S. edition: Kids Can Press, 2013.

1. Which animals have tails?

2. How many circles do you see? What fruits do you see?

3. What are some of the ways that the animals and fruits change to become bigger or smaller, round or not round?

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane, 2009.

1. Find people who are playing. Which place would you like to play?

2. Find people who are working. Which job would you like?

3. What does your family like to do outdoors?

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

1. Where is the baby?

2. What is the mother doing?

3. Can you find the baby’s eyes? What other body parts can you find?

Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.  Orchard / Scholastic Inc., 2013.

1. How many baby ducks can you count?

2. Who helped save the ducklings?

3. What would you name a baby duckling?

Wee Rhymes: Baby’s First Poetry Book by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Jane Dyer.  A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster, 2013.

1. Find a poem that rhymes. Which words in the poem rhyme?

2. Do the poems describe any things you like to do?

3. What’s your favorite poem? Why do you like it?

Max and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper. Philomel, 2013.

1. How does Max feel when he says goodbye to Grandpa?

2. Why can’t Max see the moon? Why does the moon disappear in the story?

3. Find the arrows on Max’s ride home.

Wait! Wait! by Hatsue Nakawaki. Translated from the Japanese by Yuki Kaneko. Illustrated by Komako Sakai. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2013.

1. Where did the animals go?

2. Point to the flowers.

3. Which animals can fly?

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

1. How do you use your imagination when you play?

2. Do you pretend to be other people or characters? Who do you like to pretend to be?

3. The author attended  the Lucha Libre wrestling matches with her dad when she was a little girl. Is there some special activity you like to do with a family member?

Primary (Grades K-2)[top]

The Apple Orchard Riddle by Margaret McNamara. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade, 2013.

1. How does Tara solve her teacher’s riddle?

2. What do the pictures tell us about Tara, her personality and her problem-solving methods?

3. Did you learn anything new about apples from this book? Did you learn anything new about solving riddles?

Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack.  Chronicle, 2012.

1. What is something from your own life that could be both good news and bad news?

2. How do the pictures help you decide if something is good news or bad news?

3. What words and pictures let you know that the rabbit and the rat are good friends?

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

1. According to the author, what are some of the uses of a tree? Can you think of new ways to use trees?

2. What changes do you see in the tree in the book? What changes are taking place with the trees outside? What other changes will occur?

3. How do the pictures help you understand the words?

Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown. Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Clarion, 2010.

1. Where does Chavela’s magic bubble take her?

2. What types of trees does Chavela visit? What do people make from these trees?

3. How does Chavela know that her magical trip takes her to her grandmother’s past?

Thanks a Million: Poems by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Amistad, 2006.

1. What makes you thankful?

2. These poems are written in many different ways. Which one do you like best? What makes you like that poem? The illustrations?  The style?  The words? Something else?

3. Which of these poems feels like it could be talking about you? Why?

The Big Wet Balloon by Liniers.  Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. How do the pictures and words work together to tell the story? Do you think you could understand the story without the words? Without the pictures? How might the lack of words or picture change the story?

2.Why do you think the balloon is important to the story?

3. What do you think will happen at the end of the story? Why?

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by John Katz. Henry Holt, 2011.

1. What are the different jobs of the dogs? How do the dogs help the farm by performing these different jobs?

2. What is your job in your family? How does this help your family?

3. What do you think the author wants us to learn from this book?

Nora’s Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What are ways the author and illustrator let us know that Nora is lonely?

2. Who do we meet at the beginning of the story? What is happening then?  Who do we meet in the middle of the story?  What happens? At the end of the story, how have things changed for Nora?

3. How do Nora’s chicks help her?

This Is the Rope:  A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James Ransome. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2013.

1. Who is telling the story of the rope? About whom is she telling the story?

2. In what different ways is the rope used in the story?

3. What object does your family own that tells a story?

Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

1. Why do you think the author wants us to learn about Horace Pippin? What did you learn by reading this book?

2. Why does Horace Pippin keep painting even when it is difficult?

3. Why do you think he included a splash of red in each painting?

Kunu’s Basket: A Story from Indian Island by Lee DeCora Francis. Illustrated by Susan Drucker. Tilbury House, 2012.

1. Making a basket is hard work. Why does Kunu persevere in making the basket?

2. How are baskets used in the story?

3. Kunu’s grandfather helps him with his basket. Who helps you when something is difficult?

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young. Illustrated by Nicole Wong.  Charlesbridge, 2013.

1. Why can’t chocolate grow without monkeys and other creatures? Why do you think the author chose the title, No Monkeys, No Chocolate, for this book?

2. What do you think are the important things the author wants us to know about chocolate?

3. In what other ways do plants, insects and animals depend on each other?

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon. Atheneum, 2013.

1. What are three things that are similar at a baseball game in the United States and Japan? What are three things that are different?

2. What do you like to do with your grandparents?

3. Can you think of something that you do in two or more different places? (for example, eating, reading, jobs) How is it the same? How is it different?

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, 2013.

1. Billy is nervous about starting second grade. What are some things that happen in the story to show us why he’s worried?

2. What makes it the year of Billy Miller?

3. How do his relationships with his teacher, father, mother and sister change throughout the book?

Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Intermediate (Grades 3-5)[top]

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled by Catherin Thimmesh. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

1. What is a paleoartist? What decisions do paleoartists have to make in their work? What are some examples of these decision impact their work?

2. Why do you think this book is called Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled?

3. How does a paleoartist learn what a dinosaur may have looked like?

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. Atheneum, 2013.

1. Whose stories are told in this book? How are these stories connected?

2. In what ways is the setting of this book important to the story? What elements of the story would change if it happened where you live?

3. What does “being a man” mean to Chap? What does “being a man” mean to you?

Buffalo Bird Girl:  A Hidatsa Story by S.D. Nelson. Abrams, 2012.

1. Why do you think the author wanted you to learn about Buffalo Bird Girl? What are the things the author included to show you this?

2. What do you learn from the photographs, illustrations, and maps?

3. What do we know about the author from the note at the end of the book?

It Jes’ Happened:  When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Lee & Low, 2012.

1. Do you think the author of this book thinks Bill Traylor’s art is important? What makes you say that? What did you know about Bill Traylor before reading this book? What do you know now? Do you think his work is important?

2. Why did Bill Traylor become an artist? How does the title of the book reflect this?

3. What challenges did Bill Traylor face throughout his life? How did he overcome them?

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett. Scholastic Press, 2013.

1. Why do you think the author chose the Langston Hughes poem “Dreams” as one important to Early and her family? How do you think the poem connects to what happens in the story?

2. How did Early’s life change once her dad disappeared? How did Early adapt to life in a public place? How would you?

3. What kind of a person is Early? What things do you learn about her that makes you say that? How does the kind of person she is help her to find her dad? What are the clues that help Early find her dad?

 Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester.   U.S. edition:  Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

1. There are lots of types of illustrations in this book. Why do you think the author/illustrator decided to use so many different types of illustrations? How do you think these different styles of illustrations help you understand the things Sophie describes?

2. Who are some of the people who work on the Aurora Australis and what are their roles? What about the people at Mawson Station?

3. Sophie is a child making this trip for the first time. How do you think that that makes a difference in what she describes? How do you think the story might be told differently if her dad was telling it?

Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer.  Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.  Atheneum, 2012.

1. People in the town have formed opinions of Charles Larue without getting to know him. What do the kids in the town think of Charles Larue? What is Charles Larue really like? Charles Larue changes throughout the story. What is he like in the beginning of the story? How is he different at the end of the story?

2. This book tells the story of three characters, Buddy, Charles Larue, and Mark. How do these three different perspectives help you to understand the characters and their actions?

3. The author wrote this book as a story in verse. Do you think this format, using poetry to tell the story, adds to or distracts from the story? Why?

The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke. Illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell. U.S. edition: Kane Miller, 2012.

1. What are some examples of the ways the No. 1 car spotter “works smart, not hard”? What are some examples of the ways he is good at problem-solving?

2. How do the different people in the village contribute to the success of everyone? Additionally, how do you contribute to your community?

3. On page 14 Grandfather says, “Nobody is good at everything, No. 1…You are the No. 1 car spotter. That is enough.” Is this a true statement? Why or why not?

Both of Tua and the Elephant and The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird are set in faraway places and have a strong sense of community. How are No. 1 and Tua similar?

Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris. Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Chronicle Books, 2012.

1. Describe Nak and Nang. How are they the same and how they different?

2. Who are some of the people who help Tua and Pohn-Pohn on their journey? How do they help?

3. What is a sanctuary? Why is it important for Tua and Pohn-Pohn get there?

Both of Tua and the Elephant and The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird are set in faraway places and have a strong sense of community. How are No. 1 and Tua similar?

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay. Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

1. Talk about how Lulu and Mellie and Mrs. Halliday each feel about animals. What in the story makes you say this?

2. What do you think about animals? Which of the characters are you most like when it comes to your feelings about animals and why?

3. What are some of the ways that Lulu and Mellie help each other? How do you help your friends?

The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses by Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Atheneum, 2013.

1. What are the steps the narrator completes to determine which pet is best for her?

2. Choose a poem or animal. How does the narrator feel about this animal? What in the text makes you think this? Do you agree with the narrator’s observations? Why?

3. What do you think about the assignment her parent’s gave her? Do you think this is a good way to decide what type of pet is best for her? How would you (or have you) determined what type of pet is best for you?

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers. Egmont, 2012.

1. Did you have trouble deciding who was talking on each page of this book? What helped you to figure out who was speaking?

2. What is the setting of this book? How do you know? How do the illustrations and the text help you to identify the setting?

3. Do you think the characters are friends? What makes you say that?

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy. Illustrated by Joe Morse. Carolrhoda, 2013.

1. Why did James Naismith invent basketball? What experiences helped James Naismith invent the sport?

2. How or why were some of the rules for basketball formed? How were the original rules different from the basketball we know today? Why do think some of the rules changed?

3. Why do you think basketball is still a popular sport?

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes. Boyds Mills Press, 2013.

1. What are some of the problems Gabriella faces at school? Do you relate to her? How does Gabriella’s teacher help her to solve one of her problems?

2. Why do you think the author used two different fonts in the story? What do you think the two different fonts represent?

3. Read the prologue and the poem on page 22. Why is the main character named Gabriella and how does this name fit her? Think about your own name. How does your name fit you?

Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy. Illustrated by David Diaz. Charlesbridge, 2013.

1. The book begins with the introduction, “What makes someone Latino?” After reading this book, how would you answer this question?

2. Many stories are told in this book. Is there a story with which you identify or connect? Why? What makes you identify or connect with the story?

3. If you wanted a friend to read this book, how would you describe it?

Books for Middle School Age

Middle School[top]

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko. Dial, 2013.

1. How does living on Alcatraz Island shape the story?

2. How do the characters interact differently with Natalie?

3. Adults are in a position of power over kids. Sometimes adults abuse this power. How might you have reacted to the Trixles’ rude and unfair treatment of the members of Moose’s?

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady. Illustrated by Michele Wood. Eerdmans, 2012.

1. In the introduction, the author states that she included three references in each poem: biblical/spiritual, musical, and sewing/fiber arts. Choose a poem and locate each of these references in it.

2. As you were examining each page layout (poem, explanation, artwork), which order did you use to best understand and decode? Why was this your strategy?

3. How is the theme of sewing and quilting developed throughout the collection? What is the relationship between quilting and the experiences of American slaves?

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Atheneum, 2013.

1. Why is Summer so obsessed with mosquitoes? Why does she spend so much time drawing them and seeing them as “beautiful”?

2. How would you describe Summer’s relationship with Obaachan, her grandmother?

3. The author, Kadohata, ends the book in an abrupt way, meaning that there is no distinct ending. Why do you think the author does this? What are possible outcomes for Summer and her family at the end of summer?

Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch. Photographs by Tom Uhlman. (Scientists in the Field) Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

1. The author writes about volcanic eruptions and human reaction across the globe. What are some of the differences in the ways people have reacted to volcanoes in different countries?

2. Only 100 people were killed as a result of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. What lessons from earlier eruptions did scientists use to achieve such a positive result?

3. How do the VDAP scientists interact with people who have survived eruptions?

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

1. What argument is the author trying to make about ‘zero tolerance’ as a disciplinary policy? Are one-size fits-all policies such as zero tolerance effective? What would you have done in Sierra’s place and why?

2. Kids who serve detention are often perceived as troublemakers. What are examples of ways Sierra buys into that stereotype initially? How does the novel ask us to challenge that stereotype?

3. When straight-A student Sierra falls victim to the Zero Tolerance policy at her school, she gets an in-school suspension and may be expelled. How do the points of view of her principal and her father differ? What are ways does the author develops their two perspectives? Does either or both of them change?

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith. Putnam, 2013.

1. How does the dystopian New Orleans setting shape the characters’ beliefs and actions?

2. How do the points of view of Daniel and Fen differ? What are ways the author differentiates their two perspectives?

3. Safety and trust are two ideas explored in the story. Do any specific elements (scenes, character interactions, etc.) stand out when you think of how either one of these ideas was explored?

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle. The RoadRunner Press, 2013.

1. During the course of the book, Isaac dies and becomes a ghost. How do his relationships with the other character change because of this?

2. How does the author show us ways that Isaac’s point of view is grounded in his identity as a Choctaw as well as his experiences as a child?

3. From the start, the reader knows that Isaac will die. How does this create suspense or tension in the story?

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake. Scholastic Press, 2012.

1. How does the author use the text to differentiate between Adonis and Autumn? How are their voices different?

2. Autumn perseveres through her struggles with wrestling and during her pursuit of Adonis, but she gives up more easily when trying to read. Why doesn’t she apply herself to reading the way she does with wrestling and in her pursuit of Adonis?

3. Why is Adonis so resistant to Autumn’s advances?

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin. Scholastic Press, 2013.

1. How did the author use source documents to reconstruct the events of the plot to steal Lincoln’s body and the history of counterfeiters?

2. Why does Tyrell hesitate before breaking into the tomb?

3. What were Swegles’ strategies to gain the trust of the grave robbers and avoid detection?

March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell. Top Shelf, 2013.

1. Education was important to John Lewis from the time he was a child. How is this introduced and then explored throughout the book? What does John Lewis learn from raising chickens and reading scripture? How do these learning experiences influence his life?

2. How does the use of the graphic novel style contribute to John Lewis’s story? Does it detract in any ways?

3. Why was nonviolent resistance/civil disobedience effective with Lewis’ group’s protests? What other problems could be solved with this type of action? Are there any problems that could not (or should not) be approached this way?

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler. Walker, 2013.

1. The author believes that the response of the government and many individual Americans to people of Japanese descent in the U.S. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was unjust and hysterical. How does he convey this perspective and support it in the narrative?

2. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion were two units composed entirely of Japanese Americans. What were some of the reasons these men gave for fighting for a country that had treated them so poorly?

3. Why do you think it took so long for the U.S. government to apologize for the treatment of Americans of Japanese ancestry?

 One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

1. How do the setting and time period of this book (frontier town in Wisconsin, 1871) influence Georgie’s first-person voice? How does Georgie defy traditional expectations for women’s roles in 19th century Wisconsin?

2. Which events in Georgie’s journey change her willingness to kill? Why do you think Georgie had a change of heart about shooting animals?

3. Georgie’s grandfather pays Billy to secretly take Georgie to Dog’s Hollow. Why does he do this, instead of encouraging Georgie to look directly for Agatha?

Poison by Bridget Zinn. Hyperion, 2013.

1. Kyra and other characters have different perspectives on why Kyra attempted to assassinate the princess. How does this build tension in the story?

2. What reason does each character have for concealing their identity? What does Kyra learn about herself from having two identities?

3. Throughout the story, Kyra resists an emotional attachment to Rosie the pig? What do you think Rosie symbolizes in the story?

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. How does the author use pictures to convey Buster’s family and life situations? How does the use of text add to that?

2. What do you think Henry is trying to achieve by telling Sally that Buster has only been to school once in his life?

3. Buster Keaton was a real person who eventually went on to act in movies before they had sound and actors had to rely more on actions rather than words. Have you ever seen a silent movie? Explain how Buster Keaton’s physical talent of learning how to fall, flip, and roll would be important in silent movies.

High School [top]

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

1. Eleanor and Park bond over comic books and mix tapes. How do teens in your community forge relationships / friendships? What are your interests and how do you share interests with others?

2. What are ways Eleanor and Park each change over the course of the story? How are they each influenced by one another and their relationship? How does it impact what happens as the story develops?

3. What do you believe are the words written on the postcard? What evidence can you find to support your conclusion?

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Illustrated by Julian Crouch. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What are the different factors that pressure characters to not seek the truth?

2. What are specific ways the author provided information in this alternate history to help you make sense of what was going on? In what ways did the fact that it was an alternate history—rather than a futuristic dystopia—hinder or help your understanding of the characters and their situation?

3. As you consider the sequence of events in the novel, what are the details that reveal the hoax to Standish?

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What reasons does Piddy give for not telling anyone about the bullying? What are specific ways the novel shows that silence – not letting anyone know about the bullying – makes things worse for Piddy? How does finally breaking her silence give Piddy some control as shown in the story?

2. Give examples of adult authority in Piddy’s life. What expectations do they have of her? How do these expectations impact the decisions she makes?

3. Piddy can be seen as both an obedient daughter and also a rebel. What other individuals in the story are portrayed with two conflicting sides to their character? How does the author show two sides of the same person?

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

1. What connections can you make between this story and fairy tales?

2. Throughout the novel, characters actively try to help others. Give some examples of when the help is sincerely offered and other examples when help is offered for selfish motives. How does this advance the plot?

3. Where and when do you think this story takes place? What tells you this?

Boxers (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.
Saints (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.

1. How do you think the order in which the books are read impacts a reader’s perspective on the rebellion?

2.  How is the influence of religious and spiritual beliefs in this pairing of books developed? How do Four Girl and Bao’s religious beliefs, as portrayed across the two books, parallel one another?

3. What elements of this book can you find in today’s headlines about similar religious or political conflict?

Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices by Mitali Perkins. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. How does the use of humor in these stories help to open discussions about race and ethnicity?

2. What are some similarities between the styles and perspectives of  the short stories? What are some differences?

3. Choose one of the stories. What is this author’s experience with racial and ethnic differences? How does the other convey this? How does humor help the author explore and understand these differences?

 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Little, Brown, 2013.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

Having read both or one of these books…

1. Why would an author choose to use vampires and werewolves to explore changing identity?

2. How are the vampires and werewolves similar and different from supernatural characters in other stories?

3. What plot elements allow you to suspend your disbelief?

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2013.

I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Arthur Flowers. Illustrated by Manu Chitrakar. Designed by Guglielmo Rossi. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2013.

Having read one or both of these books…

1. How do the visual elements of the text impact your understanding of the story? What are some of the other choices the authors and illustrators made to emotionally engage readers? How do these elements work together?

2. Cite evidence of people in these books taking action for a cause greater rather than for themselves. What compels them to do this? How do those actions impact us today?

3. What did you learn about the time periods and people involved in these stories that you didn’t know before reading these books?

More Than This by Patrick Ness. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2013.

1 How does the author explore the idea expressed by the title, that life is “more than this,” throughout the story? What about the importance of memory and of human connection? What are examples of details and scenes through which you see these ideas developed separately and in relation to one another?

2. Which world do you believe is real? What evidence do you have to support your idea? Do you think it is important to determine which world is “real”?

3. Technology is often seen as a solution to our problems. Is technology a solution to the problems that Seth’s societies face?

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie. Candlewick Press, 2012.

1. Identify points of acceptance for different characters in the book. What factors contribute
to these changes?

2. What makes it difficult for Matt to trust people? How does he work through these issues?
How do pressures from others along with a sense of urgency contribute to Matt’s challenges?

3. What are the multiple meanings of this title? How do these meanings relate to the plot?