Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I've gotten requests lately for discussion questions about my novels. What an interesting exercise for me. As a writer, I'm motivated mostly by character, so it's intriguing to see what themes emerged during and after the writing.
If you're a librarian or teacher, I'd like to know what discussion questions you use. And if you're a student, feel free to post your book reports. I'd love to read them!

What I Call Life

1.The Knitting Lady says that the girls in the Pumpkin House don’t have the same parents, yet she also says that they are members of the same tribe with common ancestors and a shared history. What does she mean by that? Who are some “ancestors” mentioned in the novel? Can you think of any others – from books you’ve read, movies and people you know personally? Have you ever felt as close as family to someone who is not directly related to you? What made you feel connected to that person?

2. When the book opens, Cal Lavender says that living in a foster home is not her real life. How does that change by the end of the book? What does she learn about her own life and life in general from the girls in the Pumpkin House?

3. The Knitting Lady says that she can “read” people by their knitting. She can understand their personality and traits by the tightness or looseness of their stitches, by the colors and designs they choose. Describe or draw what your knitting would look like if it reflected you. How about the knitting of your favorite teacher? A relative? Your best friend? Someone with whom you often clash?


1. What are the different ways that the new foster kids in Forest Glen try to fit in to their new community? How does Termite act? Honeysuckle? Josh? Why do they act the way they do? How do you act when you are in a new situation with new people? Do you act the way you feel inside? Give a specific example.

2. Whitney and Striker take an immediate dislike to each other. Why? And what changes between them? What circumstances and personality traits eventually bring them together?

3. Did you ever have a secret place like Striker’s spot in the forest and Whitney’s space at the top of the stairs? What drew you to it? What did you do there? Describe your secret spot using all of your senses?