Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
students to write a journal entry about a time when they had to make a
tough choice between right and wrong. Have them include the following
points: What contributed to their decision? How did their decision
affect others? Was the outcome worth it? Encourage them to share their
journal entries in class.
Instruct students to read the
newspaper for several days and bring in articles where people have been
in situations that required them to make a personal choice that could
have a life-changing impact on them or others. Share the articles in
class, and discuss whether the choices they made were positive or
Introducing the Characters
spending time at Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility for
getting into a fight at a movie theater, Armpit, whose real name is
Theodore, takes the advice of a counselor and makes a conscious effort
to turn his life around. Though he makes a brief detour when a friend
from his past involves him in a moneymaking scheme, he manages to
regain focus and change his life, and those around him.
is a spoiled teen pop sensation who is blind to the corruption of her
team, managed by her stepfather, El Genius. Off stage, she is often
lonely staying in hotel suites and rarely meets her public. But when a
commotion in the audience delays her concert in Austin, Texas, she
meets Armpit and Ginny. She invites Armpit to California, which leads
to an adventure that nearly ends in disaster for both of them.
Armpit, X-Ray has served time at Camp Green Lake. He has a talent for
verbal persuasion and reenters Armpits life with an illegal
moneymaking scheme that temporarily pulls Armpit off course. Though
X-Ray isnt conditioned for honest work, Armpit uses his connections
with the mayor and his boss at the landscaping company, and gets X-Ray
a real job using his other skilldigging trenches.
is a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who lives with her single
mother in a duplex apartment next door to Armpit. Because she is an
only child, and suffers some stress in school, she finds comfort in her
stuffed animals, which all have disabilities. She and Armpit develop an
unconditional friendship, and together take small steps toward
improving their lives.
Ms. Lane is the mayor
of Austin, Texas, who is briefly introduced to Armpit when he is
working in her yard for the Raintree Irrigation and Landscaping
Company. She recognizes him at the Kaira DeLeon concert and comes to
his defense when he is the victim of police brutality and racism.
Getting To Know The Characters
and Ginny are both taking small steps in their lives. Write a letter
that Armpit may write to Ginny from California explaining to her the
consequences of taking a giant step.
Armpit tells Ginny,
I dont know what they can do with someone with no heart and soul.
(p. 91) Write the lyrics for a blues song that focuses on the heart and
soul of one of the above characters (e.g., The Heart and Soul of X-Ray).
Questions for Group Discussion
feels that the way to turn his life around is to set goals. His five
goals are: graduate from high school; get a job; save money; avoid
violent situations; and lose the name Armpit. Ask students what
Armpits greatest obstacles are in achieving his goals?
the metaphor his life would be like walking upstream in a rushing
river. (p. 4) At what point does the river appear to be rushing out of
control? How does Armpit almost give up hope of achieving his goals?
RACISM AND PREJUDICE
Discuss the difference between overt and covert racism. Find examples of each type of racism in the novel.
parents have an image of the type of people who go to rock concerts.
Armpit tells them, Just because people have tattoos or pierced tongues
doesnt mean theyre crazy. (p. 94) Discuss the relationship between
labeling, image, and prejudices. How are Armpits parents expressing a
Armpit takes Ginny to the Kaira DeLeon
concert. Why is his mother more worried for Ginnys safety than her own
mother? Discuss why Armpits mother hesitates when Ginnys mother says,
You must be very proud of Theodore? Why does the mayors telephone
call at the end of the novel help Armpits mother look at him
Discuss ways X-Ray has proved to be
untrustworthy. Why does Armpit allow himself to become involved with
X-Rays get-rich scheme when he knows that he cant trust him?
HONESTY AND BETRAYAL
knows that Coach Simmons has the reputation for giving better grades to
football players. When he tells the coach that he intends to go out for
football, Tatiana responds, So you lied to him. Isnt that kind of
cheating? (p. 29) How does Armpit justify his lie?
hauled to police headquarters about the counterfeit tickets, and tries
to blame Armpit. He says, Armpit is not someone you can say no to. Im
talking big, and mean, and tough. (p. 183) Why doesnt he tell X-Ray
that he heard the entire conversation? Debate why he doesnt realize
that one betrayal leads to another with X-Ray.
One Step Beyond
what Armpit means when he says, It wasnt Camp Green Lake that
released him from his anger. It was coming home and meeting Ginny. (p.
117) What might Armpit and Ginny teach the other characters in the book
about taking small steps?
- Discuss how making bad choices are
sometimes driven by temptation and peer pressure. Role-play a
conversation between Armpit and X-Ray where Armpit refuses X-Rays
- Read aloud the entire song that Armpit hears
Kaira DeLeon sing on radio at the end of the novel. How does her song
make him think about his new goals? The last two lines read:
Then maybe Ill discover
Who I am along the way . . .
What is the most important discovery that Armpit has made about himself?
OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST
Yearling paperback 0-440-41480-6
Laurel-Leaf paperback 0-440-22859-X
Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake
Yearling paperback 0-440-41947-6
by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governors
School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Delacorte Press 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.