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Destiny, Rewritten

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  1. On page 17, Emily tells her best friend, Wavey St. Clair, that she does not understand the mystery behind Emily Dickinson’s poems, specifically, she does not understand why Miss Dickinson places capital letters and dashes in her poems where, according to Emily, they do not belong. Why do you think Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry like this?

  2. On page 30, Emily describes how her mother picked a special poem from THE COMPLETE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON to commemorate everything Emily had done in her life that was a milestone, such as, when she was born, when she took her first steps, and when she spoke her first words. Write a short poem that celebrates a milestone your life.

  3. Mortie tells Emily her name doesn’t quite fit her on page 41. What does he mean by this?

  4. When Emily’s book goes missing on page 42, why does she think it’s possible she may have forced things? Which string of events is she referring to?

  5. Emily’s mother writes a haiku poem on the inside of Emily’s forearm on page 59. Why do you think she does this? If you were to write a poem on someone’s arm, what would you write and who’s arm would you write it on?

  6. Mortie explains to Emily that the water cycle is too predictable on page 78. He says, “No one in the army would approve a strategy like that.” That night, Emily decides to change a few things about her own life. Why does she do this and what does she think might happen because of her decision?

  7. Why does Emily write to Danielle Steel?

  8. While Emily is searching for her book, walking to different bookstores with Wavey and Mortie, there are several things she does that are very different, all of which cause her to feel uneasy. What are a few of these things and why do they cause her to feel this way?

  9. Why does Emily like to read and copy down the happy endings in romance novels? Where does she keep the happy ending she copies down?

  10. On page 173, Cecily Ann tells Emily how her cousin, Chet, plans on saving the oak trees. Have you ever been a part of a protest? Did your actions help the cause you were attempting to aid?

  11. Emily sends a list to Danielle Steel on page 205 about people who might be considered experts on the topic of destiny. Referring to her list, which person do you think is most like a real expert and why?

  12. On page 220, Emily frames the signed photograph of Danielle Steel and places it on her wall. Why does this photograph mean so much to her? What promise does it hold?

  13. Emily collects plastic rings that come out of Cheerios boxes. On page 231, she finally has a complete set of all four colors, blue, green, red, and the long awaited yellow. Why is this collection so important to her? What does it really symbolize?

  14. Why does Emily feel such a sense of relief on page 264 when she tears out the inscription page from of her book of poems and gives it to Cecily Ann?

  15. Emily realizes at the end of the book that had she not given Mortie eight dollars, she may never have come to find out who her father was. Have you ever done something that seemed like a small event at the time but later turned out to somehow change your life? What was it?

  16. Destiny is defined as the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future, fate. Do you think people make their own destiny or it is pre-planned? Why do you think this?

A Diamond In the Desert

  1. On page 12, when Tetsu’s mother asks him to pack his things before they leave, and that he has two bags to fill, why does he only hand his mother his Mel Ott mitt, even though he folds a pile of clothes?

  2. Tetsu’s family takes a bus to Tulare Assembly Center. When he is sitting on the bus, he notices a boy across the aisle from him. He says the boy was holding everything he still owned and cared about, but in his eyes, no one was there. What does this mean?

  3. Kimi, Tetsu’s younger sister, finds a lizard and puts it in a cardboard box as soon as she arrives in Gila River. Why does she do this? Why does she tell Tetsu that Yoshi is a lefty?

  4. On page 23, Tetsu tells us that grief lives at Gila River. What does he mean when he says they walked around it cautiously, and that they didn’t speak of its sharp thorns or long roots anchored tight to nearby jagged rocks?

  5. After Tetsu pulls George out of the canal, and they are walking back to camp, he says he knows George is now his friend, and that George won’t spit in the dirt by his shoes anymore. Why does he say that knowing this, and that having a friend, makes him miss his father just a little less?

  6. Tetsu helps Kyo, Ben, and their father build a baseball field. On page 75, what does he mean when he says that each morning when he walked off the field, he left the only part of Gila River he liked?

  7. On page 85, Kimi celebrates her ninth birthday by having a tea party with her pets. What does she mean when she tells her mother that she has no choice but to keep her pets, that they were lost and someone had to feed them? Who is she really talking about?

  8. What does Tetsu mean when he tells us about the first day of practice on the new field and he says, “Other players came, filling in the open spots, second and left and everything else, to form one team. It was like Christmas morning had come in April, and everyone got a new bike, and pancakes were cooking, and outside it was snowing. It was a feeling like that.”

  9. On page 119, Tetsu and George are walking beside Horse, who is carrying Kimi back from the desert. Tetsu says he saw what was behind George’s eyes, and he had to look away. What does he mean by this?

  10. Tetsu sees a pile of lumber that is meant to become baseball bleachers on page __. He tells us that for a minute, that pile of lumber had a hold on him. But then in the next second he decides that he will use the wood for his sister’s fish pond and that this is more important than using it for part of a seat for someone who just wants to watch baseball. Why does he say this?

  11. Why does the letter from Mr. Bobkin on page 135 cause Kimi to be able to sit up for entire afternoon?

  12. What does Tetsu mean on page 138 when he says that Kyo fed him his recollection of the first home game in Gila River, like it was a bowl of soup, or a tablet of aspirin he hoped was strong enough to make him come around?

  13. Tetsu’s father makes furniture from scrap wood when he returns. Tetsu tells us that his barrack filled with quiet wooden apologies. What does he mean by this?

  14. During the winning streak at Heart Mountain, Tetsu says it felt like Papa throwing to him on the farm, and Kimi getting well, and Lefty finding Mr. Bobkin’s food dish. Explain this.

  15. On page 194, why does Tetsu take a long time telling his mother about the pop fly, even though she’d already heard the story before?

  16. What does Kimi mean on page 212 when she tells Horse that her new fish can be a white fish but he’ll never be a red-orange fish?

  17. When Tetsu’s team is practicing before the big game against the Arizona State champions on page 226, what does he mean when he says their championship title seemed to get bigger, and that it blew through the dust and the castor beans, making them strike out unexpectedly?

  18. Have you ever won a big game? What did it feel like? What is the best thing about that memory?

The Year the Swallows Came Early

Click here to open a School and Library Document from HarperCollins.
  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 http://www.missionsjc.com/preservation/swallowsstory.php