Reading guide for The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

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The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice X
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 288 pages
    Jun 2011, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Joanne Collings

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. In The Year the Swallows Came Early eleven year old Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson describes her house as a piece of See's candy, with perfect swirled chocolate on the outside, but sometimes hiding coconut flakes on the inside, all gritty and hard, like undercooked white rice. What does this mean? Is there anything in your life that is like this? What is it?
  2. How are the swallows, which return to San Juan Capistrano each year, symbolic of Frankie's mother?
  3. Eleanor says that certain foods remind her of special people and events. In chapter thirty-seven, she says that scrambled eggs remind her of talking to her Mama while the fog rolls in, and that Luis' tacos remind her of the swallows coming back. What foods remind you of special people or events? Why is this?
  4. Why is it sometimes so hard to forgive someone who has wronged you? What does Eleanor mean in chapter thirty-four when she wishes for her father to come home even after everything he'd done, when she says that her wish felt okay, and just a little bit free, like she could finally rest?
  5. Why is Eleanor happy when she finds out her father gave Mr. Tom his trailer when he could have sold it to pay her the money he owed her?
  6. In chapter twenty-seven, why does Eleanor say Mr. Tom was like a sign trying to point her in the right direction? What does she mean by this?
  7. Eleanor makes up menus to match different occasions. In chapter eight, she cooks fish sticks and creamed corn to get her mama to tell her the truth about her father? Make up a menu for the last day of school. What might be on a menu for the last of summer?
  8. Write a poem or a short story about the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. For more information on the swallows, see

Kathryn enjoys visiting book club discussions.  To schedule a regular phone call or one using Skype, please contact the author:

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Children's Books. 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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