Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- How does Ben feel about living with his aunt and
uncle and sharing a room with his cousin? Describe his
feelings when he finds Janet in his mothers house at
night. Why is he so affected by the locket and the book
he finds in his mothers room?
- What are the early connections between Bens story
and Roses story? Discuss how those connectionsthe
places where they feel trapped, their loneliness, the
storms and lightninghelp to illuminate and expand
on the individual stories.
- Discuss the meaning of the quote Bens mother liked:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking
at the stars. How does the quote relate to each of the
stories? How many ways does star imagery come into
Bens story and Roses story?
- When do we first learn that Rose is deaf? How does
that revelation intersect with Bens story? Discuss the
events that compel each of them to run away. How are
their experiences similar and how are they different?
- Compare Roses encounter with her mother to Bens
first experiences in New York. Why does Rose run
away from her mother? Why does Ben run away from
the boy who tries to help him? What draws both Ben
and Rose to the museum?
- Compare the powerful experiences Ben and Rose have
with the meteorite Ahnighito and the wishes they
- Why does Jamie lead Ben to the wolf exhibit? Why
does Ben decide to trust Jamie, and later, why does he
become angry with Jamie?
- How does the storytelling structure in the book
change when Ben finally finds Kincaids Bookstore?
Describe Roses feelings when she sees Ben and realizes
who he might be. Describe Bens feelings when he
realizes his connection to Rose.
- Discuss Bens thought that maybe we are all cabinets
of wonders [p. 574]. What does he mean? What does
the Cabinet of Wonders in his fathers book and in the
storage room at AMNH represent to Ben? Why is he
so drawn to the idea of those early museums?
- Why is it important for Rose to take Ben to the
Queens Museum to tell him the story of his father?
What does the Panorama mean to her and how does it
relate to her childhood? Why does Jamie follow them?
- Compare Bens experience during the blackout in
Minnesota when he is home alone with the blackout in
New York when he is with Rose. What do you think
Bens next chapter will bestaying in New York or
returning to Minnesota?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Scholastic.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.