Mother/Daughter Book Clubs: Bridge to Terabithia

Book Review:

Bridge to Terabithia is a classic story about friendship. Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest runner in fifth grade and would have been except that a new girl, Leslie Burke beats him. They become best friends and spend their afternoons creating a magical world in the woods behind Leslie’s house. A tragedy occurs and Jess must deal with the loss of his friend. I have always loved this book. It is a beautiful story of friendship and learning what’s important in life. My daughter loved the book as well, and she enjoyed the movie.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why is running so important to Jess?

2. Jess's mother appears to treat him differently than she treats his four sisters. How does that make Jess feel about himself?

3. How does Miss Edmunds respond to Jess's art? Why is that important to him?

4. Why is Leslie unhappy? Does she feel comfortable with the other kids at school, besides Jess? Why or why not?

5. Why do Jess and Leslie create Terabithia? What does Terabithia represent for them?

6. Jess feels that, "Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self- his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond." What does this mean?

7. At first, Jess's sister Brenda thinks he doesn't care that Leslie has died. Why does she think that?

8. What did Leslie's friendship teach Jess?

9. Why does Jess throw Leslie's present into the gully? How does he feel about her dying?

10. How do you think Jess will live his life differently because of his friendship with Leslie? What do you think Jess will do with his life?

Food Ideas:

Twinkies, dried fruit, and crackers – the food they ate in Terabithia!

Activity:

We made friendship bracelets with embroidery floss. The girls learned how to make two different kinds and they turned out really cute.

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Brown Girl Dreaming

Book Review:

Brown Girl Dreaming is the story of Woodson’s childhood of growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. It is written in verse and covers her birth through age ten. I loved reading a child’s perspective on the Civil Rights Movement. That was very interesting. I’m not a huge poetry fan and neither is my daughter, so this book was more of a struggle for us. We enjoyed it, but it wasn’t our favorite style of book.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you enjoy reading a book written in verse or a standard biography/novel better?

2. Do you think it is easier or harder to writer in verse?

3. Can you think of other books that you have read in verse?

4. Even though each chapter/verse is short, do you feel like you got a good sense of 5.the moment or place that the author was trying to convey?

6. In the chapter “Stevie” the author talks about being excited to find a book with people that look like her. Do most books you read have people that look like you or people from other cultures and backgrounds? Why is this something to think about?

7. In the beginning of the book, the author talks a lot about issues that happen in 1963 and the civil rights movement.  How did these issues affect Jacqueline Woodson’s life?

8. Do you agree or disagree that this should be a National Book Award Winner?

9. What do you think about the dad? What about the mom leaving them to go to NYC?

10. What are your favorite characters and why?

(Questions taken from http://www.book-cubs.com/2015/02/09/brown-girl-dreaming-by-jacqueline-woodson/)

Food Ideas:

We had apples with toffee dip, pizza rolls, and banana bread.

Activity:

The girls made journals by decorating the covers of notebooks. They turned out really cute!

Kids Book Club: Stone Fox

Book Review:

Stone Fox, by John Reynolds, is one of my favorite books and it makes me cry every time I read it. It is very short, only taking about 45 minutes for my sons and me to read. The book tells the story of Little Willy, a ten-year-old boy who lives on a potato farm in Wisconsin with his grandfather. One morning, his grandfather won’t get out of bed after sinking into a deep depression about how much money he owes in back taxes. Little Willy decides to enter a dog sled race against Stone Fox, and Indian that has never lost a race, in order to win the money needed to save both the farm and his grandpa.

Discussion Questions:

1. Where/when does this story take place? Would you have liked to live back then?

2. Why wouldn’t Willy’s grandfather get out of bed?  

3. What would have happened if Willy didn't earn $500?

4. Would you have been able to take care of a farm by yourself?

5. Who was Stone Fox? Was he nice or mean?

6. Where did Willy get the money to enter the dogsled race? Do you think he made a good decision?

7. How did Willy’s age and size help him in the race?

8. What did you think about the end of the race? Did you expect that to happen?

9. Do you think Willy’s grandpa got better?

10. What was your favorite part of the book/least favorite part? Why?

Food:

We ate potato chips, since Willy and his grandpa live on a potato farm, and Sno-Caps, since the story takes place in the snow.

Activities:

1. An Art Project: The kids made origami dogs and popsicle stick dog sleds. The dogs ended up being much more complicated than I’d anticipated, so only a couple kids actually finished them.

 

2. Physical Activity: We went outside and had dogsled races. I tied a rope to our wagon handle and the handle on a baby car. Kids had to sit on the car/wagon while another kid pulled them across the yard. It was pretty funny to watch, and the kids loved it.

Kids Book Club: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Book Review:

I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and at this point, none of my kids were into it. L My seven-year-old wanted to watch the movie, so I said we had to read the book first, and then we could have a Harry Potter party. I’m sneaky that way. It was a little frustrating reading it to him, because he had a billion questions and when we missed reading for a few nights, he would end up confused about who everyone was. But we did finish in the end and he liked it. For the party, we invited kids aged 5-10 to come. Everyone had to come dressed in a Harry Potter outfit – we ended up with quite a few Hermiones and even a Voldemort.

Discussion Questions:

1.     Which magical subject would you be most excited to study at Hogwarts, and why?

2.     Which of the Hogwarts houses do you think the sorting hat would place you in? Why?

3.     If you could pick one of the many animals described in this text to be your pet (including Mrs. Norris, Scabbers, Hedwig, Norbert, Fang, or Fluffy) which would you choose and why? What do people's choices in pets reveal about them?

4.     Do you agree with Hermione that "friendship and bravery" are "more important things" than "books" or "cleverness" (16.288-89)? Why or why not?

5.     Who is the most evil person in this book? What makes a person/character evil?

6.     Who do you think the most courageous character is? How is courage defined in this text?

7.     If you looked into the Mirror of Erised, what would you see? What do you think Dumbledore actually saw when he looked into the Mirror?

8.     How would Harry be different if Dumbledore had decided that he should be raised in the magical world, instead of with the Dursleys? Did Dumbledore make the right decision?

(Questions from shmoop.com)

Food:

We ate pizza and chocolate frogs (you can buy a mold on Amazon)

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Activities:

We sorted everyone with the sorting hat, painted wands, played Quidditch in the back yard, and then watched the movie. For Quidditch, I hung up hula-hoops on either side of the yard. I colored a ping pong ball in with a yellow sharpie for the snitch and hid it in the yard. I used two soft black balls as bludgers and a red soccer ball as the quaffle. I divided the kids into two teams and gave them positions. They had to throw the red quaffle through the hula hoops to score points and if they got hit with a black ball, they had to sit down for thirty seconds. The game ended when the seekers found the snitch. We were able to play a couple of times. By the end the game turned into a huge dodgeball match: my husband vs. all the kids. It was pretty hilarious.

 

Kids Book Club: Magic Tree House #9: Dolphins at Daybreak

Book Review:

Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborn is the 9th book in the Magic Tree House series. In it, Jack and Annie land by the ocean and get in a mini submarine to explore the coral reef. They run into dolphins, an octopus, and sharks! This book was a fun adventure and a great way to learn about the coral reef.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. How do Jack and Annie become Master Librarians? Would you want to be a Master Librarian?

2. Where did Jack and Annie get taken in the tree house? Have you ever been anywhere like that?

3. What are some of the creatures that live around coral reefs?  

4. When the children read the ship’s log, what did they learn about the sub? Would you have freaked out or stayed calm?

5. Why were they scared to swim in the water? Would you have been scared?

6. Did Jack tell Annie about the dark fin in the water? Why?

7. Why did Jack and Annie turn onto their backs and float? Have you ever had to swim for a long time and had to rest by floating on your back?

8. What helped Jack and Annie get to the coral reef? 

9. What can be found inside the oyster shell? How does a pearl form?

10. What was the answer to the riddle? Did you figure it out?

Questions from: http://www.risetoreading.com/2012/09/18/comprehension-questions-9-dolphins-at-daybreak/

 

Food Ideas:

Swedish fish, goldfish, gummy sharks

 

Activity:

We did three activities.

1. An art project: gave each kid blue construction paper and had them glue sand on it to form a beach. Then, using markers and ocean/fish stickers, they made an underwater scene. Afterwards, we taped clear blue paper over it to look like water.

2. Physical activity: played “Sharks and Jack and Annie” (sharks and minnows) in the sprinkler. Two kids were sharks and everyone else was either Jack, Annie, or a Dolphin.

3. Group art: painted an underwater mural of a picture from the book. I drew the picture on butcher paper and the kids all painted it.

 

Kids Book Club: Magic Tree House #8 Midnight on the Moon

After starting my Mother/Daughter Book Club, my boys were, of course, jealous. They saw we had treats, and they wanted in. So I decided to start a book club that was geared more toward my boys, though we also invited girls to participate. I ran all of these book clubs myself, charged a dollar or two for supplies, and parents were welcome to drop their kids off if they were old enough or stay if their kids were on the younger side. I found this a great way to get my boys interested in reading and I think the kids all had a lot of fun!


Book Review:

Midnight on the Moon is the 8th book in Mary Pope Osborn’s The Magic Tree House books. This time, the magic tree house lands in a space center, so Jack and Annie don spacesuits and walk on the moon! They meet a mysterious moon man and ride in a moon buggy. I love The Magic Tree House books, and this one is fabulous for learning about the moon.

Discussion Questions:

1.     Where did Jack and Annie go in the tree house? Would you like to go to the moon?

2.     How did Jack feel as he walked around in his suit? What do you think it would feel like to wear a spacesuit?

3.     What was the blue and white ball that glowed far away? How would it feel to see Earth from the moon?

4.     Jack always wants to read his book first and Annie wants to go experience things. Are you more like Jack or Annie?

5.     How did Jack communicate with the moon man? Have you ever had to communicate with someone who didn’t speak the same language as you?

6.     What did Jack draw on the star map? What did the constellation look like? Do you know how to recognize any constellations?

7.     What was the fourth special thing? What were the other three things? How were they related?

8.     Who was Peanut? Were you surprised or did guess that?

9.      If you could go in the magic tree house, where would you want to go?

Food Ideas:

We had sugar cookies with star and moon sprinkles on them, and red, white and blue rocket popsicles.

Activity:

We did three activities. 1. An art project: gave each kid a piece of black posterboard and had them glue a Styrofoam disc onto it as the moon. Then they poked craters in the moon with the back of a paintbrush. Last, they painted or drew stars on the black paper to make a night sky. 2. Physical Activity: each child took a turn putting on large snow boots and a helmet and jumping on the trampoline to see what it was like walking on the moon. 3. Group art: painted a cardboard spaceship. It was awesome.

Mother/Daughter Book Club: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Book Review:

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, is a fun murder mystery set in Victorian England. Seven girls attend a finishing school and in one night, their headmistress and her brother die suddenly and mysteriously. The clever group of girls decides to cover up their deaths to enjoy the freedom of living on their own. My daughter doesn’t like books that involve death (which we seem to read a lot of!), so she was a little weary as we started this book. But the book is lighthearted and fun, so she ended up loving it.

Discussion Questions:

Instead of discussing the book this time, we had the special treat of a question and answer session with the author! I took a workshop from Julie Berry in June, and she agreed to Facetime with the girls during our book group. It was such a cool experience. The girls asked her all sorts of questions about why she included certain things in the book, about the writing and revision process, how she did her research for the book, etc. Julie was wonderful and so great with the girls. It was awesome.

Here are some discussion questions:

1.     Which girl did you like the best? Who did you like the least? Which character are you most similar to?

2.     What do you think it would be like to go to a finishing school?

3.     Would you have agreed with Kitty and thought it was a good idea to cover up the two deaths?

4.     What was your favorite part of the book? Your least favorite part?

5.     Did you figure out who the murderer was? If not, who did you think it was?

6.     What did you think about the names for the girls? Did you like that they all had a label?

7.     Did you figure out who Julius was?

8.     Did you like the ending?

9.     Would you like to live on your own, without adults?

Food Ideas:

We had a strawberry social of course! We drank pink lemonade, and enjoyed a giant bowl of strawberries with fruit dip, biscuits, and a bowl of chocolates.

Activity:

The girls learned to cross-stitch a strawberry. I found small cross-stitch hoops at the craft store for 75 cents, so each girl could take it home to finish it. (They only completed about two rows of the strawberry that night.) Only two of the girls had ever tried cross-stitching before, so it was a new experience for most of them, and they all enjoyed it. 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Savvy

Book Review:

Savvy, by Ingrid Law, is about Mibs, a girl that will discover her savvy, or her magical power, on her 13th birthday. When Mibs’s dad suffers an accident the night before her birthday that lands him in the hospital, Mibs is sure her savvy will save him. Frustrated she is left behind when her mother and brother go visit her father, Mibs goes on a crazy adventure with her two brothers and two friends to try to get to her father in time. This was a fun book that put a twist on the usual superpower book. I liked the family themes and the idea of learning not to listen to the negative voices in our heads. My daughter liked it because of the special powers.

Discussion Questions:

1. Mibs wishes, at least temporarily, that her savvy could “give [her] the muscle to turn nasty girls into slimy green frogs or to glue their mouths shut tight with a nod of [her] head” (p. 17). Why do the girls in Mibs’s class make fun of her? What would you do in her place?

2. The Beaumonts have to keep their savvies a secret from everyone. Would that be difficult for you? Do you think everyone has a secret? Who would you trust with your big secrets?

3. Describe Mibs’s relationship with her parents and siblings. How is it complicated by their savvies? What are the positive and negative aspects of having siblings with extraordinary powers?

4. Grandpa says to Mibs, “Your savvy’s in your blood. It’s an inheritance, like your brown eyes or your grandma’s long toes or her talent for dancing to polka music” (p. 121). Are people born with special talents or do they have to work at developing their unique abilities? Are there any talents you wish you had?

5. Explain how Mibs ends up on a Bible delivery bus with Bobbi, Will, Fish, and Samson. Where do they hope to arrive? How do things go awry? Which scene in their wild adventure is your favorite?

6. Slowly, Mibs discovers the way her savvy works. How does she figure it out? How is it different from the savvy that she originally hoped for? In the last year, what have you, like Mibs, discovered about yourself?

7. How does Lill Kiteley end up on the bus? What would you say is her special know-how? How does she use that know-how during her time on the bus and how does it affect the passengers?

8. How does Mibs’s relationship with Will and Bobbi change over the course of the adventure? Who do you think changes the most in the story?

9. Fish and Rocket have a terrible time scumbling their savvies. How does this cause a ruckus for the Beaumont clan and others who know them? Are there any parts of your own personality that you have a difficult time controlling? Is it better to tone down parts of yourself so that you fit in or is it more important to be yourself completely?

10. Momma warns Mibs that, “You can’t get rid of part of what makes you you and be happy” (p. 186). What makes you you? How do you let that special part shine through?

11. When Mibs thinks about Will’s obvious feelings for her she realizes that it “[makes her] feel too young and too old at the same time.” (p. 223) Do you feel like kids today are forced to grow up too fast? How might different aspects of modern life (the media, school, friends, etc.) affect the ways in which kids mature?

(Questions from: http://www.walden.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Savvy-Discussion-Guide-Updated-4-09.pdf)

Food Ideas:

We had chocolate pie and sugar cream pie. Delicious!

Activity:

The girls applied fake tattoos. My friend found some fancy glittery ones, which the girls loved.

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Book Review:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is a long book! My daughter was turned off by the length of the book, and it took us about 6 weeks to read, but we finished it! It revolves around four gifted children that pass a series of difficult tests and are chosen to figure out a mystery that will save the world from destruction. I won’t say more and spoil the mystery, but the book is full of interesting characters and fun plot twists. Despite their initial groans about the length, many of the girls from book group went on to read the sequels.

Discussion Questions:

1. In order to be selected, children had to pass several tests. Which test did you like the best? How well do you think you’d do on it?

2. Four children passed, Reynie, Sticky, Constance and Kate. Each had unique talents to offer the team. Which child would you like to be and why?

3. Why did Reynie thank Mr. Benedict for selecting him for a dangerous job? Would you have thanked him?

4. Did you notice anything interesting about some of the place or character names?

5. Everyone in the book was an orphan and had no family. Yet, this book was all about family. How can that be? What do you think makes a family?

6. What were the rules at the LIVE Institute? What was the purpose of them?

7. Reynie noticed that the Messengers were motivated by being a part of something. Was this true for the Mysterious Benedict Society? What motivated Mr. Curtain?

8. How did each child’s strength get used to solve the mystery? Why did they need each other?

9. A lot of people talk about “doing the right thing.” Reynie struggled with this alot. Have there been times when you’ve been tempted one way or another? How does it feel?

10. How did you like the ending? How would you have improved it?

(Questions from: https://multcolib.org/mysterious-benedict-society)

Food Ideas:

We had ice cream sundaes. Yum!

Activity:

The girls learned Morse code and sent messages to each other with flashlights. This was a lot harder than we thought it would be! My friend also printed out a bunch of puzzles and brain teasers for the girls to figure out.

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Inside Out and Back Again

Book Review:

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a wonderful story about a young girl’s emotional journey of immigrating to a new country. I chose this book never having read it before and was a little nervous about the fact that it’s written in verse. We ended up loving it, though. It is a quick read and captures your heart. It provides a much better understanding of what it would be like to move to a new country where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture.

Discussion Questions:

1. Hà’s story is told in a series of poems. What do you think about that? Find examples of different types of poems: For instance, find one that tells a story and another that paints a picture. Some of the poems have a specific date at the end, but others say “every day.” Why do you think that is?

2. What did you know about Vietnamese culture before reading the story? What are some of the things you learned as you read?

3. Sometimes Hà is angry about being a girl. Why does she make sure to tap her big toe on the floor before her brothers wake up on the morning of the new year? When she thinks about that moment a year later, what does she say?

4. Why does Mother lock away the portrait of Father after chanting in the morning (p. 13)? What do you think you would do if you were Hà or one of her brothers and someone close to you passed away? What would you say to Mother?

5. What does Hà mean when she talks about “how the poor fill their children’s bellies” (p. 37)? What is Mother trying to do when she talks about how lovely yam and manioc taste with rice? Why do you think Mother finally decides to leave Saigon?

6. Why does Hà love papaya so much? What might the fruit represent for her? How is that the same as or different from what the chick means for Brother Khôi?

7. On the ship, Hà touches the sailor’s hairy arm and Mother slaps her hand away (p. 95). Why does Hà take a hair? How is her behavior on the ship similar to or different from that of the kids at school in Alabama when they notice Hà’s features?

8. Hà describes her American town as “clean, quiet loneliness” (p. 122). How is life in Alabama different from Saigon? Describe each setting and the differences between the two. Are there any similarities?

9. What do you know about the cowboy who sponsors the family? Who do you think he is, and what are some reasons why you think he might have become a sponsor? What about Mrs. Washington: Why might she have volunteered to be a teacher for Hà?

10. Hà says that the cowboy’s wife insists they “keep out of her neighbors’ eyes” (p. 116). Why would she do that? Why would neighbors slam their doors when Hà’s family comes to say hello (p. 164)?

11. Why would sponsors prefer applications that say “Christians” (p. 108)? Do you agree with Hà’s mother that “all beliefs are pretty much the same” (p. 108)? Do you think she did the right thing by saying that the family is Christian?

12. Why is it so important to Hà’s mother that her children learn English? If your family moved to a foreign country right now, would you be eager to learn the language? Why, or why not?

13. Hà struggles to learn English and hates feeling stupid. She asks, “Who will believe I was reading Nhất Linh?” and then, “Who here knows who he is?” (p. 130). What do you think is behind her frustration? What does she want people to understand about her and her family?

14. Brother Quang says that Americans’ generosity is “to ease the guilt of losing the war” (p. 124). What is he talking about? Why doesn’t he take their generosity at face value?

15. What does Mother mean when she tells Hà to “learn to compromise” (p. 233)? Is she talking about dried papaya or something else? Give an example of a compromise that Mother has made.

(taken from harpercollins.com)

Food Ideas:

We had fresh papaya and mango, sweet sticky rice, and egg rolls.

Activity:

First, everyone wrote a poem, revised it, and shared it if they wanted to. Then we watched a video on youtube about self-defense, and each girl practiced each self-defense move with her mom. The girls loved this!

 

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Out of My Mind

Book Review:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s one of those books that actually changes the way you think. The story is told from the point of view of Melody, a brilliant fifth-grader who can’t talk or walk. Born with cerebral palsy, Melody has never been able to communicate and she fights to be heard and accepted at school. This book amazed us and changed the way we view people with disabilities. I would encourage everyone to read this book!

Discussion Questions:

1.    The novel opens with a powerful discussion of the power of words and language. How does this help capture the reader's attention? What predictions can the reader make about the narrator of the story? What inferences can be made about the thought processes of the narrator's mind?

2.    In a world that does not work for her, what seems to cause the biggest frustrations for Melody?

3.    Describe Melody's parents. How do they learn to communicate with Melody and help her to overcome everyday problems? Why are those efforts sometimes a complete failure?

4.    How does Melody feel about school? How does she fit in with her classmates and what makes her different from the rest of the children in H-5? What would be Melody's ideal school situation?

5.    Discuss Melody's teachers since she began going to school. What does this say about her school system, or about attitudes at her school about teaching children with special needs?

6.    Describe Mrs. V. What role does she play in Melody's development? Why is she a necessary addition to Melody's life?

7.    What is significant about the story of Ollie the fish? How does Ollie's life mirror Melody's? Describe Melody's feelings when she is unable to tell her mother what really happened.

8.    Describe how the introduction of Penny as a character changes the family dynamics. Analyze Melody's complicated feelings about her little sister.

9.    How does the inclusion program change Melody's school experiences? Describe both positive and negative results of the program. Describe Melody's deep, unrealized need for a friend.

10. What does Melody learn about friendship during the trip to the aquarium? Make a comparison between Ollie's life, the life of the fish in the aquarium, and Melody's life.

11. How does Melody's computer change her life, her outlook on life, and her potential? Why does she name it Elvira?

12. Why does Melody decide to enter the quiz team competition? What obstacles must she face and overcome just to get on the team?

13. What does Melody learn about friendship and the relationships of children working together as she practices and competes with the quiz team? What does she learn about herself?

14. What is ironic about the events at the restaurant after the competition? How does this scene foreshadow the events that led up to the airport fiasco?

15. Describe Melody's feelings before the trip to the airport, while she is there, and after she gets home. How would you have coped with the same situation?

16. Describe Melody's extreme range of emotions as she tries to tell her mother that Penny is behind the car. How did the scene make you feel?

17. Discuss the scene in which Melody confronts the kids on the quiz team. What is satisfying about how she handles the situation? What else might Melody have done?

18. Why is the first page repeated at the end of the book? How has Melody changed, both personally and socially, from the beginning of the book to the end?

19. How would this story have been different if it had been written from a third-person point of view; from the point of view of her parents, for example, or simply from the viewpoint of an outside observer?

20. Explain the title of the novel. Give several possible interpretations.

(Questions taken from publisher)

Food Ideas:

Mac n' Cheese and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Activity:

My friend made a jeopardy quiz game with questions about the book. We broke into teams of girls vs. moms, and somehow, the girls won! Then the girls broke into pairs and were given sheets of paper with words on them. Only using their thumbs, they had to try to communicate a sentence to their partner with the words on the sheet. They took turns doing this a few times – such a great activity to gain a better understanding of Melody’s life.

 

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Three Times Lucky

Book Review:

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is a more recent book and full of mystery. Moses “Mo” LeBeau was washed up on shore during a hurricane eleven years ago. The Colonel and Miss Lana take her in and raise her, while running a café. Mo is obsessed with finding her “upstream mother,” and when a detective comes to town investigating a murder, Mo and her best friend Dale decide to become detectives themselves. This book is full of Southern charm, fun characters, and makes us all reconsider the definition of family. We loved this book. It was fast-paced, interesting, and made us think.

Discussion Questions:

1.     What is meant by the title? How has Mo been three times lucky?

2. What advantages do Mo and Dale have over Detective Joe Starr in their murder investigation?

3. Unlike Dale's family, Mo, the Colonel and Miss Lana are not related by blood. What makes them a family?

4. How does Mo come to understand more about Dale's home situation? What does she do with this information? How does her reaction affect Dale? What would you do if you knew that a friend's parent was abusive?

(questions from library.vermont.gov)

Food Ideas:

We had peanut butter and banana sandwiches (either fluffy or hand smashed), fruit with Nutella dip, and the girls decorated bottle-shaped sugar cookies.

Activity:

My friend found cheap glass bottles at Michaels and gave one to each girl.  Then they wrote letters to themselves to read only after they graduated from high school, like a time capsule. The girls put their letters in the bottles, sealed them, and decorated them.

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Tuck Everlasting

Book Review:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit is a great book to start a discussion about everlasting life. The Tucks found a magical spring and are frozen at the age they were when they drank from the spring, unable to die. Winnie Foster stumbles across their secret, so they “kidnap” her to make her understand why she shouldn’t drink the water and shouldn’t tell anyone about it. Unfortunately, a stranger overhears them and complicates things. This book was a little tougher for my daughter to get into because the language is somewhat flowery, but she ended up loving it.

Discussion Questions:

1.     Do you agree with the decision Winnie makes at the end of the book? Why or why not? Why do you think she decided to take this route? Did you see it coming?

2.      If you were offered the option, would you drink from the spring and accept immortality? Why or why not?

3.     Why do the Tucks keep the knowledge of the spring a secret? Do you think this is fair? What would have happened if the secret got out?

4.     Make a pro/con list about immortality. What would be the best parts? What would be the drawbacks? Does the narrator of Tuck Everlasting seem to have an opinion about it?

5.     What do you think will happen to the Tucks after the end of the book? How will their lives be different after their experiences in Treegap?

6.     Which character seems happiest to be immortal? Which is the unhappiest? Why? Does it have something to do with their personalities?

7.     How will Jesse react after he hears what happened to Winnie? Will he be understanding? Angry? Sad?

8.     The man in the yellow suit seemed like an interesting—if slimy—guy. We challenge you to write his story. He was on a quest all his own, and we're pretty sure it would make for a fun detective book.

(taken from shmoop.com)

Food Ideas:

Flapjacks, goldfish, and water bottles with labels that read, “This water bottled from eternal springs…drink at age 17.”

Activity:

The girls thought about what they wanted to be remembered for when they die, and then created their own tombstones. My friend quickly typed up what they had written and printed them on cardstock with tombstone clipart around their words. This really got the girls thinking about their futures and what was important to them.

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Book Review:

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi takes place in 1832. Thirteen-year-old Charlotte is scheduled to board a ship in England with two other families to meet her family in Rhode Island. However, the other two families mysteriously cancel their trip, leaving Charlotte the sole passenger on a ship with a cruel captain and an uneasy crew. Charlotte finds herself caught between the two and eventually tried for murder. I have always loved this book. Avi’s engaging style takes you on the journey with Charlotte and makes you want to visit the ocean and smell the sea air. My daughter was a little disturbed by a couple parts, but ended up liking the book.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think Charlotte initially trusts Captain Jaggery more than she trusts Zachariah? Have you ever formed — and then changed — your opinion about someone? What caused the change? Share the experience.

2. Life for girls in 1832 was much different from life in the 21st century. What advantages do girls have today? What aspects of today’s world would Charlotte likely appreciate most?

3. Charlotte befriends many of the crewmembers, but still decides to tell Captain Jaggery about the crew’s activities. Why do you think she does this? What would you have done if you were in her position?

4. After Charlotte whips Captain Jaggery’s face, she apologizes. Did her behavior surprise you? If so, in what way? How were her actions in keeping with her character, and how were they not?

5. Zachariah describes Charlotte as “the very soul of justice.” How does this description influence her?

6. Why do you think the captain chooses to make an example out of Zachariah?

7. Why does the crew stop calling Charlotte, “Ms. Doyle”? What does this change signify?

8. Captain Jaggery gives Charlotte three choices: carry out the plan against him, apologize to him, or be hanged. In your opinion, does she make the right choice? What would you have done?

9. How do you think the trip would have been different if the other families had not canceled and had joined Charlotte?

10. Once Charlotte is back on land, she has a hard time fitting in with her family. Why do you think this is? How have her experiences aboard the Seahawk changed her?

(taken from Scholastic.com)

Food Ideas:

Hard tack (which everyone tried, but no one liked – made us grateful not to be sailors!), sugar cookies decorated to look like the round robin from the book, and some fruit/veggies.

Activity:

I gave each of the girls a notebook, and they decorated the covers to make their own journals. We learned how to draw ships and how to tie various knots.

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Book Review:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell is a vivid tale about a young girl’s survival. Karana is accidentally left behind when her Indian tribe leaves their home on a small Pacific Island. She must learn how to find food, build shelter, and make weapons to protect herself from wild dogs. The beginning of this book is sad and a bit graphic, which my daughter did not like. But then the rest of the book is engaging, and Karana’s courage is inspiring.

Discussion Questions:

1. How would you describe Karana as a person? In the beginning of the book? The end?

2. What do you think she thought when she broke the rule that women can't make weapons or they would break when they used them but when she used them nothing happened?

3. What do you think happened in her trip out to sea that made her happier with the island than before?

4. What do you think made Karana not kill Rontu?

5. She wanted to kill Rontu because he killed her brother and then didn't. Then she hated the Aleut girl because the Aleuts killed her father and many others. She had a change of heart about both of them. Both of these former enemies made her solitary life more bearable. Do you think that is why she changed her mind about them? Or was she merciful and forgiving? Was that part of her people's culture?

6. Ramo is attacked and killed by the wild dogs with Rontu as the leader and then later Rontu is attacked by the dogs. Was the author able to make you feel the same emotions in both scenes? If the dogs had killed Rontu do you think Karana feelings would have been the same as for her brother's death?

7. Why do you think the Aleut girl did not ask Karana to come with her? Do you think the girl told the Aleut men about Karana? Why?

8. When the men came to rescue her she didn't run down to the cove but waited for them to come to her. Why did she do that?

9. Karana tells us a few times that her sister was more vain than she was. She seemed proud that she wasn't that way. How is her pride a form of vanity? In secret she wore her cape, skirt, jewelry and then at the end of the book she put on airs for the men rescuing her. How vain do you really think she was? Was there a difference between her and her sister? Or was there a cultural reason she may have dressed for the men who rescued her?

10. Life on the island was alone was difficult and dangerous. What do you think kept her from giving up?

11. The dolphins are mentioned in the story twice, once going back to the island and then when she leaves. What did they symbolize for her?

12. Would you have stayed or left the island? Why?

(taken from http://minabema.blogspot.com/2009/07/island-of-blue-dolphin-book-club.html)

Food Ideas:

Cupcakes with blue frosting and fish sprinkles, fruit/veggies

Activity:

My friend bought an aloe plant and the girls broke off stalks and learned how to scrape the aloe out of the plant. She talked about how Karana lived off the land, teaching the girls how they could use aloe if they got sunburned. Then we went outside and learned how to shoot bows and arrows. This was so fun – I think I loved it even more than the girls did!

 

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Book Review:

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan takes place in the late nineteenth century. Anna and Caleb Wheaton wait in anticipation when they learn that a woman, Sarah, is coming to stay with them in response to their father’s advertisement for a wife and mother. This book is short, an easy read, and yet packs a powerful punch. The language is beautiful and descriptive, and the character development is amazing.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why is Anna uncomfortable around Caleb? Why does she associate him with her mother's death? Is it fair that she thinks of her mother's death when she thinks of Caleb?

2. Sarah is lonely, but she has turned down marriage proposals before answering Papa's advertisement. Why would she come to live with strangers on the prairie if there are men in Maine who want to marry her?

3. Why is it important that Sarah sings "Sumer Is Icumen In"?

4. Why is it such a shock to Sarah to find the dead sheep?

5. Sarah teaches Anna and Caleb how to swim. How does this affect their growing relationship?

6. Maggie, a neighbor's wife, teaches Sarah that "there are always things to miss, no matter where you are." Maggie, Sarah, and Anna all miss something.

What does each miss? What does this tell the readers about each character?

(Questions from: http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-sarah-plain-and-tall/topicsfordiscussion.html#gsc.tab=0)

7. How does Sarah bring the sea to Papa, Anna, and Caleb?

8. If you were Sarah, would you stay on the farm or go back to Maine?

(Questions from: http://www.lwsd.org/school/wilder/PTSA/Enrichment-Activities/Documents/Classic%20Books/Sarah%20Plain%20and%20Tall.pdf)

Food Ideas:

(See the activity below) plus a fruit/veggie tray

Activity:

My friend had the girls make homemade bread and butter. She had already made the dough (she made scones, so cooking time was quicker) and the girls rolled it out and shaped it. Then she put whipping cream in a small glass jar and the girls took turns shaking the jar. After about twenty minutes, the cream turned to butter. It was fun and delicious!

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Anne of Green Gables

Review of book:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a classic and one of my favorite books of all time. Eleven-year-old orphan Anne Shirley arrives at the Cuthberts’ home, only to find that they had requested a boy. With her spirit and imagination, she sets out to convince the reclusive pair to keep her, and in so doing, finally finds a place to call home. Anne’s spunky character draws you in, and you can’t help but love her. The gorgeous descriptions of Green Gables make you feel like you’ve been to Prince Edward Island. I know a lot of people have watched the movies instead, but YOU MUST READ THE BOOK!

Discussion Questions:

1. In chapter 2, when Matthew is driving Anne back to Green Gables, she asks him: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive” (p. 16). Given her tragic childhood, how do you think Anne is able to maintain such a positive attitude?

2. From the moment she arrives in Avonlea, Anne is insistent on renaming places and inanimate things. Barry’s Pond, for example, becomes “The Lake of Shining Waters” and Marilla’s geranium becomes “Bonny.” Why do you think she does this? 

3. Marilla gives several reasons for finally deciding to keep Anne. What reason do you think most changed her mind? 

4. “Scope for imagination” is a characteristic that Anne treasures highly in others. Discuss the role of imagination in the novel. How does it shape Anne’s time at Green Gables? How does it evolve in other characters around her? 

5. Good behavior is very important to Marilla and very difficult for Anne. From where do you think each derives her moral code? How do both characters change, when it comes to behavior? Think, in particular, of Anne’s confessions. 

6. Anne is a remarkably compassionate child and is able to forgive even those who have judged her unfairly, such as Mrs. Rachel Lynde or Mrs. Barry. Why, then, do you think she holds such a grudge against Gilbert Blythe? 

7. Why is it so important to Anne to have a dress with puffed sleeves? Why is it important to Matthew? 

8. When Anne is at Queen’s College, she thinks: “All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years—each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet” (p. 266). How is this message both hopeful and sad? How do you think Anne’s conceptions of the future change throughout the book? 

9. Discuss Anne’s reaction to Matthew’s death. How do you think it shows her maturation? How, if at all, do you think she was prepared for it? 

10. At the end of the book, Rachel Lynde tells Marilla, “There’s a good deal of the child about her yet in some ways,” and Marilla responds by saying, “There’s a good deal more of the woman about her in others” (p. 285). What do you make of her comment? How has Anne changed during her time at Green Gables? How has she stayed the same?

(Questions issued by publisher.)

Food Ideas:

We had a tea party, of course! I wanted to make raspberry cordial, but couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I just made a raspberry punch instead. We also had cucumber sandwiches, tea biscuits, raspberry-filled sugar cookies, and a fruit/veggie tray.

Activity:

Since everyone loves the part where Anne smashed her slate over Gilbert’s head, we made our own slates. I had a bunch of old picture frames in my attic, so I bought some chalkboard paint and had the girls paint the glass. Then, when it dried, we put the glass back in the frame, and voila! They had their own mini-slates. No head smashing allowed though!

 


Mother/Daughter Book Club (Ages 9-12)

Last summer, my daughter was reading Much Ado About Anne, the second book in The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick, which she loved. In Much Ado About Anne, the girls in the book read Anne of Green Gables for their mother-daughter book club. My daughter started to ask me questions about Anne of Green Gables, so I handed her a copy and told her she should read it. After looking at the length and the tiny print, she said, “No way.”

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