Discussion Questions: Maybe He Just Likes You

maybe he just likes youDiscussion Questions for Maybe He Just Likes You


  1. For her friend Omi’s twelfth birthday, Mila and her friends plan a special birthday surprise/celebration. During this time, the “basketball boys” give Mila a hug – of sorts. But is this really a hug? And do you think these boys are just being friendly like Zara claims?


  1. During band, Callum gives a “hand swish” that brushes against Mila’s shoulder. She feels it was enough to deserve an apology, yet no one else seems to feel that way. Do you think Mila is right or is she overreacting?


  1. Mila is trying to disguise her developing body by wearing a concealing fuzzy green sweater. Is this strategy working?


  1. In band, Dante offers to let Mila use her music if she gives Leo a “birthday hug.” Do you think this is a fair offer? When Mila questions whether it really is Leo’s birthday, she finds they almost blame her for not believing them. However, Callum won’t meet her eye. Does this behavior seem sketchy to you or is Mila once again making too much of it?


  1. Mila finds out from Zara that the boys lied about it being Leo’s birthday. Why doesn’t Mila feel comfortable sharing this information with Zara?


  1. Another of the basketball boys – Tobias – is looking for a hug. He gives the excuse that Mila’s green sweater contains some kind of magic, that the boys who touched it achieved their personal best after touching it. Mila feels relieved – mystery touches explained! But do you really believe his explanation? And do you think Tobias or Callum both might just like Mila?


  1. On the bus, the boys are giving Mila lots of attention, but very little of the bus seat. Does this crowding seem fair? Normal? And do you think the boys are really interested in the fuzzy green sweater?


  1. Do you think the plaid shirt Mila borrowed from her mom is going to help the situation with the basketball boys?


  1. Samira noticed what happened on the bus and told Mila she wouldn’t allow the boys to treat her that way. Samira seemed to be blaming Mila for the incident. Do you think Mila “allowed” it? What else might Mila done?


  1. As Mila was leaving the band room, Callum made a comment about her butt. Was this appropriate? And how would you have handled this remark?


  1. Mila’s friend Max has noticed the way the boys are treating Mila and he offers to help. Max has been bullied in the past. Is what the basketball boys are doing bullying?


  1. What do you think Zara’s problem is? Is Mila’s guess that she might be jealous correct?


  1. Mila tries to go to Guidance to get some help. Was Mr. Dolan helpful? Should Mila have been more honest with him?


  1. After the chair incident in band, Mila is accused of overreacting. Is she? Do you think Ms. Fender is blaming Mila for the incident?


  1. Mila arrives home late and wants to hide the real reason from her mother. Do you think this is a good decision?


  1. Mila runs into to Tobias in the park. She considers confronting him about the behavior of the basketball boys, but changes her mind. Were her reasons valid? Would this have been a good way to solve her problem? And why are things different when it comes to Mila?


  1.  What do you think of the karate class at E Motions? And what about Mila’s thoughts and concerns after her first experience?


  1. Mila wonders: Does her mother know she needs “coverage”? What do you think?


  1. Zara apologizes to Mila for not sticking up for Mila during lunch. Do you think everything is right between them now?


  1. At her locker, Mila feels Tobias grab her butt. Then he denies it and says it must have been her imagination. When she tries to talk to her friends about the incident, she gets all kinds of mixed reactions. Describe some of their reactions. Who is right?


  1. Mila runs into trouble again on Friday afternoon when she and her friends plan to go to CVS. Zara says she has to deal with the situation herself because Mila is not dealing with it. Is Zara’s accusation accurate? Is Zara’s idea the right solution? And did her actions really solve Mila’s problem?


  1.  Mila becomes aware her mother has some issued going on as well, both at work and with her father. This makes the family’s situation  – especially from an economic standpoint  – difficult. Should Mila confide her own problems at this time? What do you think of Mr. Fitzgibbons?


  1. Do you think that karate may be the solution to Mila’s problems? And does any of the initial training seem like it will be helpful?


  1. Through Omi, Mila finds out the real reason the boys have been so anxious to touch her. What do you think of this game? What do you think Mila should do?


  1. How might Mom losing her job affect Mila and her situation?


  1. Do you think Mila should have apologized to Zara? And should she have expected an apology in return?


  1. Callum says the scorecard on Mila is just a game. Is it? And is Mila’s reaction the right one? The result was Ms. Fender changing her band position. What do you think Mila should have done differently?


  1. In karate, Mila and the other students get a lesson in self-defense. What does she learn? Do you think this is going to help her?


  1. When Callum grabs Mila’s arm, she comes back with some of her new techniques learned in karate. Does this seem to help Mila’s problem?


  1. What do you think about Zara’s reaction when she learns about the scorecard? What do you think of Max’s suggestion to go to Mr. McCabe?


  1. Mila spills some of her frustration to her mother, complaining she doesn’t know what to do when others won’t listen. Mom suggests finding a way to speak their language without physical attacks. How might Mila manage this?


  1. Is Omi brave? Is Mom brave?


  1. In a conversation with Erica, Mila might have found an opportunity for Mom. Did she learn to speak Erica’s language or was it something else?


  1.  Max has a conversation with Mila about her problem. He wants to help, but Mila responds with the comment that it is her problem. Is it? Should she follow Max’s advice and go to an adult? Is she a bully victim? Or is it really something else?


  1. What do you think of the game of Untag? Why is blame for the situation shifted to Mila?


  1. Mila admits to her friend Samira that the situation is out of her control. Even with her friends’ support, it doesn’t seem to be enough. What do you think she should do?


  1. Mila gets through her days by practicing karate, thinking about karate, and attending karate classes. She is making progress. How has this helped her? Do you think it will be enough?


  1. What do you think of Callum’s comment at the band concert? How does it affect Mila? What do you think of her response at the band concert?


  1. After the concert, Mila has to face Ms. Fender and the truth of the situation finally comes out. Was the response from Ms. Fender what Mila (or you) expected?


  1. What do you think of Ms. Fender’s solution? Should Mila agree to this?


  1. How does Mila’s conversation with Liana affect her decision?


  1. What did you think of the “community meeting”? Do you think this was an effective way to deal with the harassment? Was it better than, say, a traditional punishment (detention, suspension)?


  1. Have you ever had a problem that you think might have been solved in this way?


  1. Talk about how the perspective of the characters – Mila, Callum – has changed. Do you think these changes would have taken place without the community meeting?

Review: North America


North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History

Authors: Sarah Albee and William Exley

Publisher: Smithsonian, 2019

I loved this fold-out history book! It’s a little bit like a map (which I don’t think we use or teach enough about any longer) and a little bit like a mini trivia-style history book. It’s also a timeline, but far more graphic than most timelines I have seen.

The information isn’t the same-old same-old facts presented so frequently in kids’ history books. Here are a couple sample items:

9000 BCE – Wild Potatoes

Early North Americans gather and eat a kind of wild potato in what is now the midwestern part of the United States, and probably elsewhere, too.

1600s – Dying Cloth with Insects

The Aztecs and other nearby peoples dry and powder the cochineal insect and use the powder to dye cloth a brilliant red hue. Later the Spanish will steal this secret, and the sale of red dye will help make Spain a world power.

Who knew? That’s what makes this book so wonderfully interesting. There are many, many of these unique and fascinating facts.

The illustrations are done in muted tones, much like we think of the colors used on old maps. The drawings are a bit more like cartoons than I would have expected. I wondered if more realistic drawings might be more appealing. However, I shared this book with my fifth-grade class and they loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing.

While this book is a great reference resource, it’s interesting enough to simply be a pleasure reading book. It’s a nice alternative for nonfiction fans and for those whom big blocks of text may be overwhelming.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: Make This!

make thisReview:

Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects from the Amazing Maker in You

Author: Ella Schwartz

Photographs by: Matthew Rakola

Publisher: National Geographic, 2019

Some kids are born tinkerers. If you’ve got one (perhaps a classroom full), I recommend you check out this new selection by National Geographic Kids. It will help give some purpose to that tinkering, and it’s filled not only with experiments and activities to try, but the reasons why they work (or don’t).

It starts with simple machines. Young readers learn about things like simple pulleys, wheels and wedges (and how to make them!) Then the book explores the properties of materials. Absorption and filtration are discussed within this chapter. Further studies include systems – some small (like the chain on a bicycle) and some large (think: ecosystem). Optics, energy, acoustics, forces, and motion are topics of the chapters. Wow! This is great stuff for budding engineers to explore.

The activities are not overly complex, but they are not too simple either. Many of the materials needed are things you would typically have on hand. If not, they are generally not hard to acquire or overly expensive. The instructions are clear and concise, while the photographs clarify the necessary steps.

Now I’d like to add one other note. Last year I reviewed another National Geographic book of experiments called Try This! Extreme. In rereading my post, I mentioned that there were some really cool experiments – they were just too cool for me to spill the beans, though I did wonder where you would get the necessary supplies. Well, now I am going to tell. The experiment I was particularly interested in was making an edible water bottle. And where do you get those supplies? Amazon! (Where else?!) You needed sodium alginate and calcium lactate, both of which can be purchased easily and inexpensively online. One of my coworkers did this experiment in her classroom and told me she spent under $10. There was plenty for the whole class to try.

One additional note: Although I thought this was cool when I read about it and a cool experiment to do, the results – from a practical standpoint – where not the best. Oh, the experiment worked. However, the kids hated the substance. It was way too much like jelly fish sacs! Oh well, a little more experimenting is needed….


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: Water, Paper, Paint

Review:water paper paint 2

Water, Paper, Paint: Exploring Creativity with Watercolor and Mixed Media

Author: Heather Smith Jones

Publisher: Quarry Books, 2011

Source: Personal Purchase

Today’s selection is not a children’s book, but includes great activities that certainly could be geared toward any age. When I worked with preschool students (age 3), we incorporated variations of some of these explorations in our program, so I feel this is a book well worth checking out no matter what the age and stage of your kids. (Note: I purchased this book in the bookstore at the Eric Carle Museum for Picture Book Art.)

The supplies are pretty simple, and the projects are clearly explained and adaptable to many levels. I also like that there are suggestions for making something with the art that wasn’t necessarily a picture. Smith Jones gave an idea to make some “paintings” into name tags for gifts. I did some simple experiments with water colors and then punched shapes (more on this in a minute) which I used to decorate plain gift bags. A couple of examples are pictured below.

water paper paint 1

Now, more about punches. Smith Jones used a large circular punch to make her Though gift tags and I must say that punches, in various shapes and sizes, are one of my craft “secret weapons.” When I first started working in the preschool, the other teachers would prep the craft projects by cutting everything out by hand. Imagine! One hundred tiny eyes or fifty little noses were all done with a clunky pair of scissors! It took tons of time and the type of patience which I entirely lack. I went out and bought a series of good quality circular punches in multiple sizes. Every time I saw paper punches on sale at the craft store, I added one or two to my collection. It was an investment I have never regretted. I could crunch out those eyes and noses in a matter of minutes. I am still using the various shapes in all types of projects.  Though they can be expensive, I highly recommend purchasing at least a few. They can save a lot of time and elevate some of your kids art projects into nice, usable, decorative items.





Review: Henry is Kind

henry is kindReview:

Henry is Kind: A Story of Mindfulness

Author: Linda Ryden

Illustrator: Shearry Malone

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

Ms. Snowden’s class takes their seats in order to practice mindfulness. They also practice heartfulness, a compassion meditation that increases feelings of empathy, happiness, and connection to others. Everyone enjoys the practice, but when Ms. Snowden starts The Kindness Project, Henry hits a snag. Each student is to make a picture of something kind they have done during the week and Henry can’t think of a single kind thing he has done. He is upset and yells, “Kindness is stupid!”

Luckily Henry has his fellow classmates to help. He has done plenty of kind actions, but he hasn’t been aware of them. When his friends point out all the kind things he has done – from sharing his snack to inviting a new student to join in a game – Henry realizes that he has been kind. He just needed to learn to recognize his actions. He realizes that helping others makes him feel good, too.

As she explains at the end of the story, Linda Ryden has been teaching mindfulness and heartfulness to her elementary students for the last fifteen years.  These practices have contributed to a more caring classroom and a more positive school environment. There is plenty of research to back up her personal findings.

I am hearing about a lot of mindfulness and kindness practices popping up in schools. My own school has started a Kindness Club and some of the teachers practice Zen-day Wednesday (a practice I personally like so much I wish it happened every day). For anyone looking for ideas to start a mindfulness/heartfulness practice with their students (or, in fact, in any kind of a group), this book is an excellent starting point. With a story to share and tips and resources for the leader, it’s a great beginning.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Discussion Questions: Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy

elektra's adventuresDiscussion Questions for Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy by Douglas Rees


  1. On the trip from Mississippi to Guadalupe Slough, Elektra complains that the trip is “running away” while Mama sees the trip as an “adventure” and a “rescue from Mississippi.” Who do you think is right?


  1. Elektra claims that Mama has left her father because he wouldn’t leave Mississippi. Could Elektra be mistaken?


  1. When Mama, Elektra, and Thalia arrive at their new home, Elektra feels a ray of hope. She is sure they will be returning to Mississippi pronto. Do you think this will happen?


  1. What do you think of the new neighbors?


  1. Once again, we see a difference of opinion between Elektra and Mama. Mama couldn’t handle Mississippi because it was “rigid, hypocritical, and, worst of all, boring.” Elektra feels that life in Mississippi was “rich as delta soil and sweet as molasses” (pg. 41). What might be some of the reasons behind their differing opinions?


  1. We meet more neighbors and Mama’s tone of voice makes it clear that they, at least, are not boring. How might Elektra feel about this?


  1. The family receives a rather unique gift from one of their new neighbors (Ralph). How would you feel about receiving George?


  1. The girls explore the town by going to the library. They meet more of the residents of the area. How would you feel about these people? Interesting or boring? Elektra thinks they might be interesting, but do you think that will make her want to stay?


  1. Thalia likes their new town, but Elektra feels trapped. Why do they have such different opinions?


  1. Elektra meets Carlos Gonzales. How do you think she feels about him at this first meeting?


  1. After multiple tries to reach her father, he finally answers one of Elektra’s calls. Instead of saying she should return to him, he claims it is best for her to stay with her mother. He refuses to let her go home, but doesn’t really explain his reasons. Why do you think he feels that Elektra belongs with her mother?


  1. After this conversation, Elektra convinces herself that her father needs her and was just confused about what he really wanted. Do you agree with this?


  1. Elektra begins to wonder: What Would Odysseus Do? “Odysseus never complained unless he thought it would do him some good” (pg. 111). Elektra has done plenty of complaining. Has it done her any good?  Has it changed her situation? What do you think about her plans for action?


  1. As Mama evaluates her prospects for employment, Elektra responds with a smart-ass answer about their outlook. Mama slaps Elektra’s face. How do you feel about Mama right now? What about Elektra’s response?


  1. Elektra knows that to get back to Mississippi, she will need money.  How successful do you think she will be earning enough in Guadalupe Slough?


  1. Even as she plans to return to Mississippi, Elektra suddenly remembers a family trip to the Aegean Sea. Looking back, she now wonders about her father’s behavior toward her mother during that time. Do you think that summer caused this summer to happen? Do you think this revelation will change Elektra’s mind?


  1. How does Elektra feel about Carlos now that he is no longer Carlos-the-geek but Carlos the nineteen-year-old Stanford grad? Obviously, there is more to Carlos than she first realized. Could this be true of others, too? Evaluate the ways this is both good and bad.


  1. Mama comes home to find the girls missing. They were at get-together with the neighbors. Mama is angry, even though she learns that Ralph has fixed her car. Does she have a right to be?


  1. Thalia believed the incident was just her and Elektra having a good time with good people. Elektra explains that Mama was upset because she went by what she saw – Thalia and Elektra in a room full of adults where there was drinking going on – not by what they (Elektra and Thalia) knew. Could Elektra be making the same mistake in some of her relationships? Do we all do this at times?


  1. How do you think Thalia knew how to handle the situation with Ralph? (pgs. 157-159). We haven’t discussed much about Thalia, but what do you think about her outlook on everything – the change in her life, her new circumstances?


  1. Elektra knows that her actions in trying to get home are not truthful or honorable. She rationalizes that she can start being a good person again once she gets home. Do you think it is right for her to be “skeevy” just because she didn’t get what she wanted?


  1. Mama claimed she could never write because she never had a day to spend on her work. She couldn’t just walk away from taking care of her family. Will this new living situation really change that? Do you think that was Mama’s real problem?


  1. Elektra reads the following quote in one of her mother’s books on writing: “Your characters are defined by their actions…” (pg. 179). What do Elektra’s actions say about her? What about the actions of Mama and Thalia? Carlos or Ralph?


  1. Mama goes off on her interview and Elektra uses the opportunity to make her escape. En route, she finds out that her father has resigned his job, moved, and has a new wife. What do you think about Elektra’s plan now? What do you think about her father?


  1. At the same time Elektra receives this shocking news, she also learns her mother has been in a terrible accident on the way home from her interview.  What do you think of her next actions?


  1. What do you think about the neighbors after Mama’s accident? Has your opinion of them changed at all?


  1. Elektra wants to earn Ralph’s respect. She also needs to respect herself. Is this important?


  1. Mama finally comes clean about the circumstances of the divorce. Do you think she should have explained to the girls sooner? Was her plan to wait until they were older reasonable?


  1. What do you think of Elektra and Thalia’s plan to get some money? And what of their plan to tell Mama the truth, but slant?


  1. What do you think about the relationship between Rob and Mama. And what do you feel about the way Elektra and Thalia handled the fact that he “likes our Mama” (pg. 270)?


  1. Carlos thinks Elektra belongs in Guadalupe Slough. “The slough can be a good place for people who aren’t trying to be someone they’re not” (pg. 275). Was Elektra trying to be someone else when she arrived in California? What about now?


  1. Elektra’s father finally calls and admits he has been “remiss.” What do you think of Elektra’s response (pg. 281) to him?


  1. Elektra says Mama could have played it safe, but didn’t has Elektra come to understand her decision? Does Elektra always play it safe? Do you think that even though they don’t play it safe, they will be safe?

Discussion Questions: Restart

restartRestart Discussion Questions:

  1. Chase Ambrose has amnesia due to a fall from the roof. He can remember some things – like how to talk. He doesn’t remember other things – like his own name. He doesn’t recognize his parents. He has one memory of a girl in a blue dress, but no idea who she is. How would your feel if this (memory loss) happened to you?


  1. Shoshanna Weber’s brother has been sent to a boarding school because he was the target of school bullies. And the biggest bully of all was none other than Chase Ambrose. Yet when he sees Shoshanna after his accident, he actually smiles at her. How would you feel if you were Shoshanna?


  1. Chase discusses the yogurt-over-the-head incident with his mother (pgs. 20-21). Do you think his mother is being entirely honest with him?


  1. At school Chase meets his friends again. What do you think of them?


  1. Since his accident, what are the first indications of major changes in Chase?


  1. In the principal’s office Chase sees two framed photographs – one of himself and one of his father. In these pictures, both were captains of the state champion football team. How might have Chase felt about these photos before his accident? What do you think he feels now?


  1. What do you think about Dr. Fitzwallace’s conversation with Chase? Do you agree with him that the accident, while terrible, may also provide Chase with an opportunity?


  1. Brendan Esponoza was bullied by Chase and his gang almost as much as Shoshanna’s brother. What do you think makes him ask Chase to be the cameraman for his YouTube video stunt?


  1. At the park, Chase sees his half-sister, Helene. What do you think about her reaction to Chase? What do you think about his father’s comments?


  1. Chase realizes that he has been famous at Hiawassee Middle School, yet some students seem afraid of him. Chase can’t understand what he has done. Explain the difference in the explanations between Aaron and Bear and his mom. How would you feel if you learned that you had been arrested for your actions? Who should Chase believe?


  1. At the car wash the manager immediately jumps to the conclusion that the stunt was Chase’s idea/fault until Brendan explains the truth. Is the manager’s conclusion justified?


  1. What do you think of Chase joining the video club?  What do you think of Shoshanna’s reaction to Chase becoming a member of the video club?


  1. Chase attends a football game but this time he is a member of the video club. What do you think about his interactions with his dad? With Helene? Watching the game, Chase’s memory about how to play begins to return. Do you think Helene has forgotten the teddy bear incident? Do you agree with Chase’s analysis: “Helene is perfectly happy now. No harm, no foul” (pg. 67).


  1. After the game, Chase goes to the locker room for interviews. Compare the reaction of the players to Chase’s questions to the answers they give Hugo.


  1. Chase was exempt from his community service at the Portland Street Assisted Living Residence due to his accident. So why does he go back to do it?


  1. After the pep rally incident, do you think that Chase has changed or, like Shoshanna, do you think he is still a “goon?”


  1. Do you think Kimberly Tooley’s reason for joining the video club is a good one?


  1. Aaron Hakimian asks the question: Is Chase Ambrose really the same person? What do you think?


  1. As more memories return, Chase remembers bringing his older brother Johnny to school. What do you think about this memory? “I am starting to wonder if that person is still inside me, emerging from the darkness, bit by bit, along with my memories” (pgs. 93-94). What do you think?


  1. Are Chase and Mr. Solway alike or different? How and why?


  1. “I hope I never hate anybody as much as that girl (Shoshanna) hates me” (pg. 101). Why does Chase say this and what does it show?


  1. Shoshanna goes to meet Mr. Solway about her video project. She doesn’t get far with him and is astonished at the change in Mr. Solway when Chase arrives. Chase and Shoshanna become partners on the project. Should Shoshanna tell her brother and parents?


  1. Ambrose tells Chase that he is taking Chase to a new doctor and then Chase will have his old life back. Should Chase agree to this plan? Is it a wise decision? Does Chase really want his old life back?


  1. Chase suspects Aaron and Bear of stealing Mr. Solway’s Medal of Honor. Do you think he is correct?


  1. The project with Mr. Solway and Chase has become the biggest thing in Shoshanna’s life – and yet she feels she can’t tell Joel. Do you agree with her? Do you agree with her new view of Chase or do you think her parents are correct?


  1. Chase’s friendship with Shoshanna is growing. Even her family is beginning to believe that Chase is someone different now. But what is happening to his relationships with his other friends?


  1. Bear and Aaron set up the incident to frame Chase. Why doesn’t Chase tell the truth to Dr. Fitzwallace? What do you think of his father’s attitude? Why does Chase regret his choices?


  1. Although Chase “gets away” with the fire extinguisher incident, what is the cost?


  1. When Chase gets the OK from the new doctor to play football again, does he have a choice? What are his choices?


  1. What do you think about the revelation about who stole Mr. Solway’s Medal of Honor?


  1. Brendan discovers the truth – with evidence – about Chase’s true actions in the fire extinguisher fiasco. What do you think will happen next?


  1. Chase discovers the girl in the blue dress with the lace collar and the full memory of what happened came back to him. How with this memory make you feel?


  1. What do you think of this statement made by Joel Weber just as Brendan shares the video evidence with him: “I’ve been victimized, but I don’t have to let that define me as a victim” (pg. 212).


  1. In the end Chase tries to do the right thing and return the Medal of Honor. What obstacles does he face? What help does he have?


  1. Chase takes full blame and ends up back in court. Does this seem fair? What do you think of the outcome?


  1. Do you believe that Chase has really changed? Do you think he can ever live down his reputation as a bully?

For Teachers: The Witch’s Boy

witch's boyThe Witch’s Boy

Author: Kelly Barnhill

Vocabulary List

As I was reading The Witch’s Boy, I kept thinking over and over, “What wonderful language!” or “This is a great word to share.” So, around page 40, I started making a list of some of the words I found, thinking how these are the kind of words I might stop and explain to listeners if I were reading aloud. This list would make a good word-of-the-day or part of an SAT prep list. At the very least it would make an interesting spelling challenge for many! The numbers that follow indicate page numbers from my own notations, although many words appear on other pages as well. Have fun!


Multitudinous (41)

Filament (42)

Volatile (44)

Implacable (47)

Anguish (48)

Explicitly (48)

Rowdy (48)

Chaotic (48)

Argumentative (48)

Wrought (51)

Prodigious (52)

Treacherous (52)

Enormity (53)

Intricately (56)

Commendation (56)

Vast (61)

Pendant (62)

Excursions (63)

Lavishly (63)

Horde (63)

Hypnotic (64)

Sniveling (64)

Measly (65)

Insistent (69)

Unison (72)

Reverberate(d) (72)

Grotesque (77)

Enthusiast (83)

Humanitarian (84)

Stymied (85)

Incentive (85)

Quiver (noun) (103)

Expulsion (106)

Unification (113)

Diminished (114)

Transformed (114)

Impunity (116)

Fervently (117)

Taciturn (121)

Cache (121)

Coalescing (124)

Influx (126)

Subjugation (130)

Uncouth (134)

Ecstatically (137)

Arduous (145)

Opaque (146)

Unorthodox (146)

Distended (151)

Odious (151)

Antidote (158)

Ill-fated (168)

Luxurious (172)

Blanched (178)

Waspish (180)

Benevolent (183)

Petulant (183)

Miniscule (184)

Brazen (184)

Rectified (184)

Allegiance (185)

Insolence (186)

Futile (187)

Astray (188)

Consort(ing) (189)

Autonomy (189)

Croon(ed) (192)

Thwart(ed) (205)

Proficient (209)

Tizzy (113)

Precipitously (221)

Rue (230)

Divert(ed) (231)

Composure (235)

Savvy (236)

Malicious (243)

Duplicitous (243)

Abyss (246)

Unpredictable (248)

Presumptive (248)

Derisive (250)

Gnarled (250)

Plummet(ing) (251)

Essence (255)

Ruse (258)

Persnickety (260)

Resplendent (262)

Contingent (noun) (265)

Insufferably (276)

Harmonize (278)

Yokel (281)

Conspire (281)

Inflame (281)

Anarchy (283)

Plundering (283)

Entourage (285)

Persevered (298)

Piddly (297)

Mimicking (298)

Divert (300)

Eclipsed (304)

Elongated (308)

Fragile (310)

Overindulgence (315)

Emblazoned (317)

Silhouette (317)

Rampant (319)

Oscillated (321)

Unencumbered (322)

Grievous (322)

Humiliated (324)

Guttural (331)

Brandish(ed) (340)

Incredulous (344)

Consensus (345)

Corrupted (349)

Distribute (355)

Pragmatic (356)

Commemorating (360)

Restitution (360)

Nimble (269)


And one final word (whew!) – Forgiveness

Discussion Questions: Beyond the Bright Sea

bright seaDiscussion Questions for Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk:


  1. Where do you think Crow has come from?


  1. Compare/contrast the arrivals of Osh and Crow to the island.


  1. Think about their names. Osh is also known as Painter and Daniel. Do you think perhaps he has had another name, too? Does Crow also have other names? Are these names important?


  1. Why might the other islanders be afraid of Crow? Why was Miss Maggie never afraid?


  1. In Chapter 3, Crow mentions treasure. Is that what Crow is really looking for?


  1. Crow learns the truth about the hospital that was once on Penikese. How does Crow feel about this? Do you blame the other islanders for their fear, especially since Daniel and Miss Maggie are not afraid of her? Do you think Crow is really from Penikese?


  1. Do you think it is important for Crow to learn about her past? Will it make a difference in her life? Will it make a difference to others?


  1. Penikese is going to be a bird sanctuary. Will this make people feel differently about the island?


  1. Who is right about the campfire on Penikese – Miss Maggie, Osh, Crow? Could it have real significance to them?


  1. Osh has a part of a letter and a ring that came attached to Crow. Why did he not tell her about these items sooner?


  1. Crow learns that Miss Maggie had previously done research into the hospital on Penikese. Why did Miss Maggie do this? And why didn’t she share this information earlier?


  1. When Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie visit Penikese, they meet the bird keeper. What do you think about this meeting?


  1. Do you, like Crow, believe there is a connection between the lamb in the cottage and on the headstone?


  1. Crow writes the letter to Dr. Eastman looking for information. Osh tells her, “What you do is who you are” (pg. 75). What does he mean by this?


  1. Now that Crow has received the reply from Dr. Eastman, do you think she comes from Penikese? She has further clues to follow, including the possibility of having a brother. Osh tells her, “But I think you should look in as much as you’re looking out” (pg. 87). What does he mean by this?


  1. Crow writes a cryptic letter to the nurse, Evelyn Morgan. Do you think the nurse will understand?


  1. Crow realizes that the man that she, Osh, and Miss Maggie met on Penikese cannot be the bird keeper. They make a return trip to the island and find the real bird keeper bound and gagged. Who is the other man and why is he there? Is he looking for treasure? Something else?


  1. Crow remembers that the imposter bird keeper had mentioned a nurse. Do you think this is just coincidence or a connection?


  1. Crow wants to look for her (possible) brother, Jason. Do you think she will be able to find him?


  1. Crow asks Osh, “If you had a brother somewhere and might be able to find him, wouldn’t you go looking?” (pg. 137) Osh does have a brother (and other relatives), but chooses not to look. What is the difference?


  1. Crow goes to New Bedford alone to look for Jason. Was it right for her to do this? What does she learn about Jason? the bird keeper imposter?


  1. When on the ferry to New Bedford, Crow sees a sailor on another ship, The Shearwater, who looks like her. She believes he may be her brother. Do you think he might be?


  1. Crow receives her response from Nurse Evelyn. She learns several things:


  1. Who her parents were
  2. Who the imposter bird keeper really is and what he is after
  3. She does have a brother


How might all of these things affect Crow?


  1. Is Crow still Crow – or is she Morgan now? Are they the same? Different?


  1. Decide: Is Osh’s name important or not?


  1. Now that the police know what Mr. Kendall was looking for, other treasure hunters invade the island. Do you think Crow really knows where the treasure is hidden?


  1. Miss Maggie, Osh, and Crow go to Penikese to get the treasure. They meet the police officers looking for Mr. Kendall. Do you think he will return?


  1. When they find the treasure, it brings unexpected problems. It is a burden. What do you think they should do? Turn it in? Hide it? Give it away?


  1. Will the treasure change Crow? And if so, how?


  1. Benson touches Crow and allows her to handle the chocolate. He behaves as though she is not different at all. Has something changed?


  1. Crow sees a sail leaving Penikese harbor. Is danger coming her way and is there anything she can do to stop it?


  1. When questioned by the police, Crow admits she is the daughter of people who died on Penikese. When this news gets out, will things change for Crow?


  1. Osh, Crow, and Miss Maggie identify Mr. Kendall for the police. Do you think it is over between them? Are they now safe that Mr. Kendall is in jail?


  1. Just as a storm is coming, they learn Mr. Kendall has escaped. Do you think he is coming for them?


  1. During the storm, a ship is wrecked. It is The Shearwater. The young sailor that Crow hopes will prove to be her brother is injured and nearly drowned. Do you think he is Jason?


  1. While Crow is tending the young sailor, Mr. Kendall returns. His anger is worse than the storm. Can Crow do anything to save herself and help Osh and Miss Maggie?


  1. The young sailor is not Jason. It is possible Crow may never find her brother. How does she feel about this?


  1. “What you do is who you are.” (pg. 283) Who is Crow? Osh? Miss Maggie?


Event: Meet Jon Klassen and BBF 2016 Part 1

Hi everyone,

This past weekend was pretty exciting for BookWorms in our area! On Saturday, we attended the 2016 Boston Book Fest, and on Sunday, I went to Jon Klassen’s book signing at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In today’s post, I wanted to share a few of the things we learned at those events!


Event: Meet Jon Klassen

Location: Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

This event celebrated the newest in Klassen’s series of “hat” books, We Found a Hat. Throughout his presentation, Klassen read aloud each of the three hat books, sharing insight into his process for creating each spread. One of my favorite parts of the presentation was actually seeing some of the ideas that didn’t make it into a final book. Klassen showed sketches, book dummies, and a hysterical cover with nothing but the title “Something Happened” and a turtle flipped on his shell and looking distinctly unimpressed. The presentation was funny for both adults and children, and it was so interesting to see how these books developed over time.signed-sam-and-dave

The presentation was followed by a book signing, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog for a while that this drawing is my favorite. Sam and Dave is one of my absolute favorite picture books and one that I love to read aloud. Check out our review and suggestions for using Sam and Dave in your own classroom!

You can also check out our review of Pax, which in a novel illustrated by Klassen.

For more information:

Jon Klassen:


Eric Carle Museum:



Event: YA: Give Me the Creepsbbf-2016

Location: Boston Book Fest, Boston Public Library

This panel is perfect for the Halloween season and put three different YA horror authors in conversation about the genre and their work. The panel featured authors Margot Harrison, Dawn Kurtagich, and Kim Savage with moderator Laura Koenig.

One of the things I found most interesting about this discussion was that each of the authors talked about how their subjects frightened them. They focused on psychology and mood, even pulling in aspects of their own lives. However, they also discussed the cathartic process of writing about their fears and how, because their work deals with traumatic events, it can be a source of healing.

I also think it’s worth noting that some of these authors, in particular Dawn Kurtagich, credit horror with helping her to become a reader. Although she struggled with dyslexia, she found that the emotion and the separation from real life in horror books was a gateway to helping her develop an interest in reading. Kim Savage also noted the importance of classic horror stories in getting her interested in horror as a teen. It’s always exciting to hear of books that might work well for a reluctant reader, and I think some horror texts – Kurtagich recommends the Goosebumps series – might be perfect for that purpose.

For more information:

Margot Harrison: https://margotharrison.com/

Dawn Kurtagich: http://www.dawnkurtagich.com/, https://www.youtube.com/user/WritaholicDK

Kim Savage: http://www.kimsavage.me/ (Some deleted chapters of Savage’s book After the Woods are available here, but you may want to wait to read them until after you’ve finished the book! https://www.bustle.com/articles/146814-in-kim-savages-after-the-woods-bonus-content-anti-hero-gets-to-tell-her-story-exclusive)

Boston Book Fest: https://bostonbookfest.org/


In tomorrow’s post, Barbara will be discussing a couple more of the panels we attended at BBF!