Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Club Discussion Questions - "Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith

I started a teen book club at the library. "Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith was our first book choice, and the teens gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. This story is about luck, and love, and what could happen if your best friend won the lottery.

When preparing for the book club, I was not able to find discussion questions online. So I wrote up my own, and now I am sharing it for others.

"Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith Discussion Questions

1. Can you relate to how Teddy reacted when he won the lottery?

2. What would you do if you won the lottery?

3. Did you understand why Alice didn't want to take any money from Teddy? Would you feel the same?

4. How did Alice's background contribute to her decision?

5. How did Teddy's background contribute to how he reacted to winning the lottery?

6. Why was Alice afraid to tell Teddy how she feels?

7. Were there signs that Teddy felt the same way?

8. What would you do if you were in love with your best friend?

9. What were some of the good things that happened to Teddy after winning?

10. What other good things can you imagine happening after winning?

11. What were some of the bad things that happened to Teddy?

12. Can you think of some other bad things that could happen?

13. Do you think the money changed Teddy? How?

14. What about Alice? Did she change? Was it because of the money or something else?

15. What about Leo? What was his role in the story?

16. Can you think of some other ways this story could have ended? What would have happened if Alice took the money? What if Teddy didn't have romantic feelings for her? What if Teddy's ticket didn't win?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Author Adam  Gidwitz brings the Middle Ages to readers in The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.  This children's adventure story was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2017 and the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

It is told in a storyteller fashion by several observers of these magical children. William is a young monk with supernatural strength. Jacob is a Jewish boy who can heal all wounds. Jeanne is a peasant girl who has visions of the future, and is accompanied by her resurrected dog, Gwenforte. The children face perils that include a dragon with deadly farts, a lying monk and finally, an army of knights.

The illustrations by Hatem Aly accompany the story, adding to its fireside charm.

It is worthy to note the inspiration for the story, as many of the characters (including the holy dog) are based on real characters, events and legends from the Middle Ages. Be sure to stick around to read the Author's note.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review: Wolf Hollow

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk is one of those stories that brings you into another world with its rich setting and engaging storytelling. I felt like I was with Annabelle as she traversed the woods or her family farm. I nodded to the cows she mooed at as she passed to let them know it was her. I smelled the hay in the barn and felt the weight of the book in her hands.

Annabelle's life changes when a new student, Betty, arrives and shows surprising cruelty in her bullying.  When a local war veteran known to be odd steps in to protect Annabelle, he becomes a target. Lies unravel with more lies as Annabelle attempts to find a way to expose the truth and set things right, only to see things escalate.

At no point in this story could I predict what would happen next. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Review: Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda

This terrific YA novel is about Simon, who is falling in love over emails while he comes out as gay to his friends and family. It reads like a diary sharing the innermost thoughts of a teenage boy.

This book is being made into a movie called "Love, Simon." I'm not sure why they changed the title, because the title was the reason I picked up this book, and it didn't disappoint. The main character is as snarky as the title suggests.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas is perfect and timely and should be read by everyone. It is written from the perspective of a black teenage girl who witnessed not one, but two murders of close friends. Her best friend is shot in a drive by at age 10. Her friend Kahil is gunned down by police with Starr as the only witness.

And now Starr is faced with testifying to the grand jury. She is fearful of being labeled as the witness with gang members, yet wants to speak out and get justice for her friend.

It is a big, important subject.

Read it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Every Falling Star

This is not a fiction story, and it is not an easy read. This is an autobiographical tale about a young boy forced to beg, borrow and steal in deplorable conditions one could not imagine in North Korea. Sungju is not ashamed to show how naive he was at the start, and things get worse for him rather quickly.  The writing is honest and raw. At times, I felt hopeless reading it. The days Sungju describes seem as if the despair would never end. It is worth sticking through, and you will be left with knowing a little something about a corner of the world kept hidden from outsider's eyes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

It wasn't hard to find the appeal of "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," by Kelly Barnhill, the book that earned the 2017 Newbery Medal. It has a tiny dragon that will fit in a little girl's pocket, a loving swamp monster, and magic in the moonlight.

As an infant, Luna was left in the forest as a sacrifice, and saved by the magical and kind Xan, who saved all the babies abandoned in the forest. She fed them starlight as she delivered them to a loving family who raised them. But with Luna, the trip was longer than usual, and Xan fed her from the moon. This gave Luna magic, which can be a dangerous thing for a child to have.

Her magic is hidden away. In fact, Luna doesn't even know what magic is until her 13th birthday approaches. At the same time, the severely scarred Antain is determined to stop the sacrifices of the youngest child in the village and kill the witch he believes is demanding them.

A colorful collection of characters make the reader believe in magic, if only for a little while, and may inspire some origami.