Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Why does Jack spend the summer in Iowa? What's going on with his family that forces his move?
Frankie, Wendy, Anders, and Clayton all notice that something Very Odd is going on. What does each character notice and how do they respond?
Jack is not like most boys. What clues can you find that show the reader exactly how different Jack is?
Why is the skateboard so important to Jack? What does he hope to gain by learning to ride it?
Is there a difference between "brave" and "good"? What are some examples from the book where the characters had to be brave if they wanted to do good? Can you think of a real-world example of someone needing to be brave in order to do the right thing?
Why do you think Jack hates fairy tales?
Which of the characters in this book is most like you? Why do you think that?
Sometimes, adults try to protect children from scary or troubling information. Parents do this; teachers do this; everyone does. Sometimes it backfires. How would this story be different if Jack knew what he was from the very beginning? How would that knowledge change how Jack acts?
Why does Jack try to protect Clayton, even though Clayton has been so mean to him?
What is your opinion of Mr. Perkins? Is he a good person or a bad person?
There is a lot in this book about the relationship between a person's soul and their memory. In your family or culture, how do people remember their loved ones who have passed away? How do we - in our lives - keep the memories of our loved ones alive?
Wendy is often described as "prickly". Is that an accurate description of her? Why do you think that?
Why is Mr. Perkins afraid of Jack?
What happens to Frankie at the school house?
What does Mr. Avery want more than anything else in the world? What choices does he make in order to get what he wants?
Why do you think Jack goes to visit his "brother", Baxter? Why is it so important that Baxter remembers Jack, even when no one else in the family does?
What does Clive mean that there is power in the "gap between good and evil"? What kind of power? What do you think that means?
Why doesn't Wendy trust Jack at first? What happens to change her mind?
Is the Lady really all bad? Is the Other really all good? Is it possible for a person to be all bad or all good?
Why, in your opinion, does Anders snap off a section of the vines and bring it home? What do you think he'll do with it?
Do you think that Clive will see Jack again? Why do you think that?
What does it mean to be a hero? Who is the hero of this story - is it Jack? Wendy? Frankie? Anders? Someone else? What, in your opinion, is an example of an act of heroism?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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