Monday, November 05, 2007

November - Mysteries

Here are the books that we are reading this month along with some questions to get your thinking. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
These questions are from Wendy's site, and they contain some major spoilers!
  1. What three items did Jeremy and Lizzy need to deliver for Mr. Oswald?
    Discuss the significance of each item (in relation to the respective
    owner, in relation to Jeremy, etc.) What “life lesson” did Jeremy take
    away from each encounter?
  2. “I have named the hour between eleven and midnight the Hour of
    Jeremy (H.O.J. for short).” (p. 27) During the H.O.J, Jeremy reads, does
    research on the Internet, etc. If you had a specific time allotted just for
    yourself, what hour would you choose? What would you do during that
  3. In a conversation between Jeremy and Lizzy, she asks “So what’s your
    strength?” “Good question, replies Jeremy. “What is my strength? Do
    I even have a strength?” (p.18) Ask students how they would answer
    that question. Then read aloud the story about the fight between two
    wolves on page 271. Discuss the concept of good vs. evil and the notion
    that the wolf you feed can be considered your strength. Ask students to
    write a list of their own strengths.
  4. Jeremy has an internal battle with himself over the difference between
    fate and bad luck. (p. 82) Conversely, Lizzy sees the fact that they
    missed their stop as “a good sign for sure.” (p. 83) Do you believe in
    fate? Do you think there is such a thing as bad and good luck? Many
    people think that the number 13 is unlucky, as Lizzy and Jeremy discover
    when the 13th floor is missing (p.86). Do you think there is any truth
    to this custom? As an extension activity, have students research the
    mystery of the number 13.
  5. Mr. Randolph defined the meaning of life as finding one’s potential and
    embracing it. (p. 156) And Dr. Grady is referring to life in his statement,
    “It’s the journey, not the destination.” (p. 186) How are these two
    declarations related, if at all? Would you agree with Mr. Randolph and
    Dr. Grady? Does the letter written by Jeremy’s father reflect these
    sentiments? How?
  6. There is a central theme of loss in this novel: the death of Jeremy’s
    father and the abandonment of Lizzy’s mother. Do you think that
    is what draws Jeremy and Lizzy together as friends? Describe their
    relationship. When Samantha moves in, Lizzy begins acting strange
    and all of a sudden becomes concerned with what Samantha may
    think of her. Why do you think Lizzy is behaving differently? Does it
    impact Jeremy and Lizzy’s friendship? Cite several examples of the bond
    between Jeremy and Lizzy.
  7. Were you surprised to discover that Jeremy’s father had planned this
    entire adventure and that everyone was in on the plan? What lifelessons
    did Jeremy learn? How has this experience changed him? Do
    you think that the summer’s events helped Jeremy better deal with his
    father’s death? Describe the transformed Jeremy?
  8. Jeremy spends the entire summer trying to discover what is in his
    Meaning of Life box. When he finally gets it opened, his father informs
    him “…that’s all life is, really, a string of moments that you knot
    together and carry with you….The trick is to recognize an important one
    when it happens.” (p. 272) And within the box are numerous rocks—
    each one representing an important moment. Think about your own life, what meaningful items would you save and what would you write in your letter?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Start off by checking out the book's website
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret has almost as many pictures in it as words. How did the art affect your experience of reading the book?
  • How is the book like a movie or how does it remind you of movies?
  • Did you learn anything new from reading this book?
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret takes place in Paris in the 1930s. Do you think this story could have taken place somewhere else or at another time? If so, where and when?

And for some really great questions, go to this site:

Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller
  1. Kirsten Miller has further developed some of the irregulars in this book. Which one of the Irregulars do you most relate to and why?
  2. What is so appealing about Kiki Strike?
  3. This novel continues to introduce us to more young geniuses. What is Kirsten Miller trying to say about geniuses?
  4. The novel ends with Kiki headed to claim her home and Ananka revealing her secrets to her parents. Is this the end of the irregulars or do you predict a sequel?
  5. Not only are the Irregulars diverse, but so are their families. Describe the different parent/child relationships. Why do you think Miller chose to set the families up the way she did? (and on a side note, why no siblings?)
  6. Kirsten Miller keeps track of all sort of odd real life occurrences like underground cities, and stories of haunted houses. I think these intriguing stories that are interwoven into the Kiki Strike novels are part of what making them so intriguing, they leave you with a feeling that this might actually be possible. She chronicles many of them under Ananka's Diary on her web site www. Can you think of any real life oddities that might fit perfectly into a Kiki Strike novel or maybe inspire a novel of your own?


Anonymous said...

So glad you posted about Jeremy Fink. I just picked that book up at the book fair last month and have been meaning to read it.

Kaza Kingsley, said...

This sounds like an amazing book club! Wish I'd heard of you sooner. I'm in Ohio too, what city are you in?
I didn't see your email on the site - but I'd love to hear from you. I'm at
I'm doing a blog tour - maybe I could stop by your blog on my tour!

Kaza Kingsley
Author of the Erec Rex series

Krystal Trapnell said...

Okay. I just finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I know I am way behind (our library system here is slow...still no Kiki Strike #2 yet), but I wanted to share.

I really liked the book. Probably because of all the illustrations, I really felt like it would be made into a movie. I felt like the picture/word ratio was very good, and my imagination could fill in the gaps. I had never heard of Melies before, and to find out that he was a real person was a welcome surprise. Thanks for the pick, I really enjoyed it!