Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Time Quintet (L'Engle) book discussion questions


Good vs. Evil
In A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which take Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace to the planet Uriel. There, as they see The Dark Thing, a shadow that is creeping over the cosmos, the children begin to understand the age-old struggle between the forces of good and evil. Have students make two columns on a large sheet of paper; one column should be labeled "good," and the other "evil." Beginning with Love and Hate, one in each column, ask students to list other characteristics of these forces.

In each of the novels, members of the Murry family learn important lessons when they encounter evil forces. Ask students to identify the conflict in each novel and discuss the overall theme of good vs. evil. How are these conflicts resolved? What does each Murry child learn about the power of love?

In A Wind in the Door, Charles Wallace is tormented by his classmates. Meg says, "It's not right in the United States of America that a little kid shouldn't be safe in school" (p. 47). Engage the class in a discussion about the safety issues facing public schools today, for example bullying, weapons, gangs, etc. How are these issues considered "evil" forces? 

Courage and Honor
In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg experiences various types of love throughout her adventure. When she returns to Camazotz for Charles Wallace, she learns that love can enable her to be brave in the face of danger. It provides her with the strength that she needs to overcome evil. Ask students to trace the development of Meg's understanding of the power of love and discuss or write about it in an essay format.

In some ways, Charles Wallace might be considered the most courageous Murry. Encourage students to compare and contrast his courageous journey in A Wind in the Door to his adventures in A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

The Murry twins, Sandy and Dennys, take their first time-travel adventure in Many Waters. As the "practical" members of the family, they are very frightened throughout most of their trip. Ask students to discuss whether it takes courage to be "practical" and "ordinary" in a family like the Murrys. How might being "practical" and "ordinary" cause anyone to be frightened upon entering a new experience? Do the twins become more courageous by the end of the novel?

Dealing with Giftedness
Charles Wallace realizes that he is different. While he is intellectually gifted, he lacks the physical ability to do things like the other boys in his class. Ask students to brainstorm characteristics of an intellectually gifted child. Make a chart for each of the Murry children and Calvin O'Keefe and cite evidence from the novels that indicates that each child might be considered gifted.

Family and Relationships
Have students study the Murry-O'Keefe family tree which can be found in the back of any of the 35th anniversary commemorative editions. Ask each student to select one person from the tree and design a page about that person's life and adventures to be included in a Murry-O'Keefe family scrapbook. Compile the pages and bind it. 


  1. A Wrinkle In Time is very much a novel about good vs. evil. Who in the book represents good? Who represents evil?
  2. How does Meg feel about her father and his work?
  3. Imagine living in a community that mistrusts and resents you. What is it like for the Murrys to live in a community that doesn't understand them?
  4. How is Charles Wallace like Meg? How is he different?
  5. How would you describe tesseracting? Would you want to do it?
  6. What are Meg's faults? How do they help her in the end?
  7. Meg experiences various types of love throughout her adventure. How does her understanding of love develop over the course of the novel?
  8. Who is the most courageous character?
  9. Would you define this story as fantasy or science fiction? What are the differences between these two genres?
  10. If you had the opportunity to time travel, would you? If you could chose the time, what time period would you travel to? The past? The future?
  11. Would you recommend this book to others?
  1. In Chapter 11, Senex says, "'It is only when we are fully rooted that we are really able to move."' (pg. 190) What does the author mean by this, and how might it apply to your life?
  2. What clue does the author give at the end of the book to indicate that Proginoskes is really all right despite having Xed himself?
  3. Why is it better to X oneself than to be Xed by the Echthroi? What is the difference?
  4. Despite the fact that grown-ups have a harder time kything and may be slower at it than children, Calvin believes adults are able to go deeper than a child can once they get the hang of it. What does he mean by this? Can you give two examples from the story in which Mr. Jenkins proves that Calvin is right about this?

June 2018: Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle

For June 2018, I picked the Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle because I've been wanting to re-read them. Have fun!

The Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle consists of A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

A Wrinkle in Time―One of the most significant novels of our time. This fabulous, ground-breaking science-fiction and fantasy story is the first of five in the Time Quintet series about the Murry family. A Wrinkle in Time is soon to be a major motion picture from Disney, directed by Ava DuVernay, starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling.
A Wind in the Door―When Charles Wallace falls ill, Meg, Calvin, and their teacher, Mr. Jenkins, must travel inside C.W. to make him well, and save the universe from the evil Echthros.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet―The Murry and O'Keefe families enlist the help of the unicorn, Gaudior, to save the world from imminent nuclear war.
Many Waters―Meg Murry, now in college, time travels with her twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, to a desert oasis that is embroiled in war.
An Acceptable Time―While spending time with her grandparents, Alex and Kate Murry, Polly O'Keefe wanders into a time 3,000 years before her own.

 Madeleine was born on November 29th, 1918, and spent her formative years in New York City. Instead of her school work, she found that she would much rather be writing stories, poems and journals for herself, which was reflected in her grades (not the best). However, she was not discouraged.

At age 12, she moved to the French Alps with her parents and went to an English boarding school where, thankfully, her passion for writing continued to grow. She flourished during her high school years back in the United States at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, vacationing with her mother in a rambling old beach cottage on a beautiful stretch of Florida Beach.

She went to Smith College and studied English with some wonderful teachers as she read the classics and continued her own creative writing. She graduated with honors and moved into a Greenwich Village apartment in New York. She worked in the theater, where Equity union pay and a flexible schedule afforded her the time to write! She published her first two novels during these years—A Small Rain and Ilsa—before meeting Hugh Franklin, her future husband, when she was an understudy in Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. They married during The Joyous Season.

She had a baby girl and kept on writing, eventually moving to Connecticut to raise the family away from the city in a small dairy farm village with more cows than people. They bought a dead general store, and brought it to life for 9 years. They moved back to the city with three children, and Hugh revitalized his professional acting career.

As the years passed and the children grew, Madeleine continued to write and Hugh to act, and they to enjoy each other and life. Madeleine began her association with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, where she was the librarian and maintained an office for more than thirty years. After Hugh’s death in 1986, it was her writing and lecturing that kept her going. She lived through the 20th century and into the 21st and wrote over 60 books. She enjoyed being with her friends, her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren.

Build a Board at Book Club

Inspired by this:

We made this:

Raise a mocktail!

Made some pretty delish non-al mocktails!

Monday, April 16, 2018

July 2018: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

For July 2018, we'll be reading Kevira's pick: “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. (Kevira and I switched months because she was on vacation in June!)

The unassuming young heroine of Rebecca finds her life changed overnight when she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome and wealthy widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Rescuing her from an overbearing employer, de Winter whisks her off to Manderley, his isolated estate on the windswept Cornish coast--but there things take a chilling turn. Max seems haunted by the memory of his glamorous first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy is lovingly tended by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. As the second Mrs. de Winter finds herself increasingly burdened by the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, she becomes determined to uncover the dark secrets that threaten her happiness, no matter the cost.

“One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century, Rebecca has woven its way into the fabric of our culture with all the troubling power of myth or dream.” —Sarah Waters

“Du Maurier is in a class by herself.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES

“Excellent . . . Perfect . . . Mastery from surprise to surprise.” —CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

“Addictive and breathtaking. Its blending of melodrama and subtlety is ingenious. The Cornish setting never quite leaves the imagination.” —THE INDEPENDENT

“This chilling, suspenseful tale is as fresh and readable as it was when it was first written.” —THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 

Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning, DBE (13 May 1907 - 19 April 1989) was an English author and playwright.

Although she is classed as a romantic novelist, her stories seldom feature a conventional happy ending and have been described as "moody and resonant" with overtones of the paranormal. These bestselling works were not at first taken seriously by critics, but have since earned an enduring reputation for storytelling craft. Many have been successfully adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn, and the short stories "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now/Not After Midnight".

Du Maurier spent much of her life in Cornwall, where most of her works are set. As her fame increased, she became more reclusive.

Her parents were the actor/manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and stage actress Muriel Beaumont, and her grandfather was the cartoonist and writer George du Maurier.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Orphan Train book discussion questions

1. On the surface, Vivian’s and Molly’s lives couldn’t be more different. In what ways are their stories similar?
2. In the prologue Vivian mentions that her “true love” died when she was 23, but she doesn’t mention the other big secret in the book. Why not?
3. Why hasn’t Vivian ever shared her story with anyone? Why does she tell it now?
4. What role does Vivian’s grandmother play in her life? How does the reader’s perception of her shift as the story unfolds?
5. Why does Vivian seem unable to get rid of the boxes in her attic?
6. In Women of the Dawn, a nonfiction book about the lives of four Wabanaki Indians excerpted in the epigraph, Bunny McBride writes: “In portaging from one river to another, Wabanakis had to carry their canoes and all other possessions. Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.” How does the concept of portaging reverberate throughout this novel? What fears hamper Vivian’s progress? Molly’s?
7. Vivian’s name changes several times over the course of the novel: from Niamh Power to Dorothy Nielsen to Vivian Daly. How are these changes significant for her? How does each name represent a different phase of her life?
8. What significance, if any, does Molly Ayer’s name have?
9. How did Vivian’s first-person account of her youth and the present-day story from Molly’s third-person-limited perspective work together? Did you prefer one story to the other? Did the juxtaposition reveal things that might not have emerged in a traditional narrative?
10. In what ways, large and small, does Molly have an impact on Vivian’s life? How does Vivian have an impact on Molly’s?
11. What does Vivian mean when she says, “I believe in ghosts”?
12. When Vivian finally shares the truth about the birth of her daughter and her decision to put May up for adoption she tells Molly that she was “selfish” and “afraid.” Molly defends her and affirms Vivian’s choice. How did you perceive Vivian’s decision? Were you surprised she sent her child to be adopted after her own experiences with the Children’s Aid Society?
13. When the children are presented to audiences of potential caretakers, the Children’s Aid Society explains adoptive families are responsible for the child’s religious upbringing. What role does religion play in this novel? How do Molly and Vivian each view God?
14. When Vivian and Dutchy are reunited she remarks, “However hard I try, I will always feel alien and strange. And now I’ve stumbled on a fellow outsider, one who speaks my language without saying a word.” How is this also true for her friendship with Molly?
15. When Vivian goes to live with the Byrnes Fanny offers her food and advises, “You got to learn to take what people are willing to give.” In what ways is this good advice for Vivian and Molly? What are some instances when their independence helped them?
16. Molly is enthusiastic about Vivian’s reunion with her daughter, but makes no further efforts to see her own mother. Why is she unwilling or unable to effect a reunion in her own family? Do you think she will someday?
17. Vivian’s Claddagh cross is mentioned often throughout the story. What is its significance? How does its meaning change or deepen over the course of Vivian’s life?


Sunday, April 8, 2018

May 2018: No One Is Coming To Save Us

"My May choice is No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts. It is billed as a retelling of/inspired by The Great Gatsby," said Susan.

“A skillful riff on The Great Gatsby… Watts writes about ordinary people leading ordinary lives with an extraordinary level of empathy and attention….The ways in which No One Is Coming to Save Us intersects with and veers away from Fitzgerald’s familiar plot can be very rewarding… Every departure can be seen as a sly comment on what it means to be a person of color in today’s America…. The novel’s intricately plotted relationships pay off satisfyingly in its final chapters.” —New York Times Book Review

Read Stephanie’s essay, “I Love The Great Gatsby, Even If It Doesn’t Love Me Back,” published on Lit Hub, here


NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY The Washington Post • Refinery29 • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Bookpage 
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2017 BY Entertainment Weekly • Nylon • Elle • Redbook • W Magazine • The Chicago Review of Books

JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

JJ’s return—and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava—not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?

No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice: with echoes of The Great Gatsby it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. In evocative prose, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted a full and stunning portrait that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.

Stephanie Powell Watts won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (2012), also named one of 2013’s Best Summer Reads by O: The Oprah Magazine. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the Best New Stories from the South anthology and honored with a Pushcart Prize.

Ms. Powell Watts’s stories explore the lives of African Americans in fast food and factory jobs, working door to door as Jehovah’s Witness ministers, and pressing against the boundaries of the small town, post-integration South. Her debut novel, titled No One Is Coming to Save Us, follows the return of a successful native son to his home in North Carolina and his attempt to join the only family he ever wanted but never had. As Ms. Powell Watts describes it, “Imagine The Great Gatsby set in rural North Carolina, nine decades later, with desperate black people.”

Born in the foothills of North Carolina, with a PhD from the University of Missouri and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she now lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where she is an associate professor at Lehigh University.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

January 2018: Book Club Outing

Thanks to Becky, we got to enjoy a wonderful Escape Room during our January meet-up! We did the Investigation of Miss Treedcath and figured it out! THANK YOU!! It was so much fun!