Posts tagged ‘Friday Feature’

Friday Feature — Having a Ball!

Friday Features are an irregular occurrence on my blog that include things other than book reviews, something a little extra. This might include author interviews (hint to any authors out there who want to get interviewed), bibliographies, book trailers and program ideas. While I’m not limiting myself to talk about these things just on Fridays, it will be something extra special to finish off the work week.

I noticed a trend recently in picture books where balls played an important role in the story. So I gathered up some for my monthly visit to the local preschool and we had a ball!

Watch Me Throw the BallTitle: Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Author: Mo Willems
Series: Elephant and Piggie

Anyone who hasn’t heard of Elephant and Piggie by now who works with young children should run right out and grab one (or multiple titles). Elephant insists that it takes hard work to throw a ball, but Piggie has other ideas and extravagantly celebrates his success. Or, what he thinks is his success, since really the ball has been unintentionally thrown backwards and Piggie can’t see the result of his wind-up. Gerald does, and out of frustration finally gets Piggie to understand that the ball did not go around the world. Piggie though is unfazed, and he reassures Gerald that although he didn’t throw it far, he still had fun, with the subtle moral coming across loud and clear. Stick around for the surprise ending as Gerald then celebrates his “successful” ball throwing skills. Even the littlest kids understood what was going on and the room was filled with giggles at the realization that they were in on the joke.

BallTitle: Ball
Author/Illustrator: Mary Sullivan

This newly published book is less well-suited for story time in that it only features the single word title throughout all of its pages. However, the expressive illustration carry the story beautifully as a dog wakes a girl and plays with a ball repeatedly until the girl leaves for school, with a purple bag slung over her shoulder as the dog dejectedly looks on, ball hanging from its mouth. After soliciting the mother in a yoga pose and outfit, a baby in a bassinet who bursts into tears, and the cat who wants nothing to do with the dog, the dog finally drifts off to sleep and dreams of different scenarios featuring the well-loved toy. I’ll be honest, I skipped over those because I thought I would lose my younger audience with those scenes. Eventually, the dog pricks up its ears because, yes, thank you, the girl has finally returned and is more than happy to play with her pouch, ending the story with a satisfying “BALL!”

Duck and GooseTitle: Duck and Goose
Author/Illustrator: Tad Hills
Series: Duck and Goose

This is a not so new book that also allows readers to be in on the joke long before the title characters. Duck and Goose discover what they think is an egg, and after each tries to claim it as their own, the find themselves in a face off sitting on the spherical, spotted object. They finally find common ground as they talk about teaching whatever hatches how to fly and swim. A little blue bird disrupts their contemplative stance, but also points out that maybe things aren’t as they seem, especially to these oblivious animals. Friends are made in the end, and it’s quite obvious from the cover that this very obvious case of mistaken identity is improbable but enjoyable all the same.

Stick!Title: Stick!
Author: Andy Pritchett

Throwing kids a “curve ball” (the preschool staff laughed), I ended the story about a dog and his stick. Similar in scope to Ball, this book features only a half-dozen words that are repeated throughout the book. Pritchett’s brightly colored backgrounds and minimal details contrast nicely against Sullivan’s more muted pastel colored palette. The excitable dog (who reminds me of Snoopy with his white body and black floppy ears) offers a stick to a cow, a chicken, and a pig who all refuse his overtures for grass, worms, and mud respectively. Flopping down with a storm cloud over his head and a gray background, he throws the stick in frustration… and it comes back with a “Clunk!”. It’s another dog, this one brown, who joins the original character, and the other three animals soon join them after peering around the pages to see what the excitement is about. A satisfying “Friend?” ends the story with the animals playing a catch type game. The animals initial responses are shown in the book before the word is produced via a page turn, which gives I think offers kids a unique connection opportunity to see that they were right about the animal’s predicted response.

Books I didn’t use:
Peanut and Fifi Have a BallTitle: Peanut and Fifi Have a Ball
Author: Randall de Seve
Illustrator: Paul Schmid

While I love the idea of incorporating imagination into a story time, the color palette was very similar to Mary Sullivan’s Ball with the peach and soft blues making up most of the story. I loved the girls’ responses to each other, mimicking the fleeting nature of ideas as Fifi springs from one thought to the next, and Peanut is ever the realist until the very end. When trying to convince Peanut to share her ball, Fifi imagines it’s identity as a basketball, needing a hat, serving as a crystal ball, becoming dough, and finally balancing on the nose of a seal. Peanut’s responses, on the other hand, include “My ball doesn’t need a hat”, “Check the closet” and “Just a ball.” It would serve it’s purpose well on a rainy afternoon that requires imagination.

Ball for DaisyTitle: A Ball for Daisy
Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka
This Caldecott winning wordless book was very similar to Ball and Stick in both its plot line (dog finds a friend to play with) and it’s language (it is wordless). Even the pictures of the dog are similar, with both Stick and A Ball for Daisy featuring a white dog with black ears making a new friend in the form of a brown dog. While the pictures are beautiful, I’d had enough of the limited vocabulary dog books, and decided to pass on this one and go for the newer titles that they hopefully hadn’t seen yet. That’s not to discount it, it was just too much of the same for this story time.

What books do you roll over about?

Friday Feature — Spot a Doggone Good Book Display

According to Chase’s Calendar, March 23rd is National Puppy Day. Although obviously not as well-known as maybe President’s Day or Thanksgiving, I thought it was a great opportunity to make a display for the month of March. The last couple years we’ve featured books with colors in the title with the theme “Reading through the Rainbow”, but thought we’d give that theme a rest this year and try something new. (I’ll try to find the picture that I know I took of that display and post it in the future.)

Since I can’t draw, a coworker of mine drew for me giant dalmatian dogs Pongo and Perdy from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. They served as “book ends” for a giant display case. We lined the case with white paper (the kind that comes in giant rolls) and then put colored paper behind the dalmatian cut-outs so they stood out from the white. We traced a pot lid onto black paper (the 11×17 size) and cut out black dots to scatter throughout the display. We also added some more black dots in smaller sizes, to provide dimension and contrast and just visual interest. Because the shelves for the display case are hard to install with a background paper, and because we only have so many shelves, we printed out color copies of books about dogs and stapled them up in the display case. The finished product looks amazing and I have to thank my coworker for completing the installation of it since we ran out of time and I was at a training meeting all the next day. Some of you might be able to identify the library by the display space, but I’m so proud of these that I love being able to share them with other people. There are sliding glass panels that somewhat obstruct the picture, but you get the general idea.

We’re also using this display to promote our program where kids can sign up to read to a certified therapy dog. Without further ado, our display, titled “Spot a Doggone Good Book”:

Due to the overabundance of dog books out there, I don’t think I really need to make a list. We were hard pressed to limit the number, as just off the top of my head I can think of Marley, Tintin’s Snowy, Clifford, Spot, Houndsley, Lassie, Ribsy, Dan and Ann in Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, and Old Yeller.

Friday Feature — Eye Catching Books Display

At one of the libraries I work at, I share responsibility for changing out the display spaces, a task that I absolutely LOVE. Even though I’m not artistic in the least bit, I have a lot of opportunities to do a play on words or puns and utilize my computer skills. Oh, Clip Art and Google Images, how I love thee, let me count the ways. Sometimes though, it’s as easy as copy and paste.

For instance, my latest and greatest creation: Eye Catching Books!

The titles pictured include (from left to right, top to bottom):
Island by Gordon Korman
There are no cats in this book by Viviane Schwarz
Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry
The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley
Last Dragon Chronicles series by Chris D’Lacey (Fire Within, IceFire, Fire Star, The Fire Eternal, Dark Fire, and Fire World) I couldn’t just choose one, since they are all so unique and different and beautiful.
Dinomummy : the Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, a Dinosaur from Hell Creek by Phillip Lars Manning
The Concise Dinosaur Encyclopedia by David Burnie
Paint by Magic by Kathryn Reiss
Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer (The title was changed to Time Travelers, which is much less original in my opinion, and the cover of the new book won’t fit the theme, but the original book has a gorgeous cover.)
Pirate’s Eye by Robert Priest
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Cool painting : the Art of Creativity for Kids by Anders Hanson
Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay
The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs
Catalina Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name by Arnold, Tedd
Cleopatra rules! : the Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Shecter
Face to Face with Frogs by Mark W. Moffett
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Dream of Night by Heather Henson
More Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya
The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses by Joanna Cole
Cleopatra by Adèle Geras

I had one of the pages help me with this one. For about a month, any time she ran across a cover with an eye on it, she’d show it to me before shelving it so I could record the title and author. Then, when I had a good list, I copied the cover art from our online catalog and pasted them into a Publisher document, enlarging it so each cover had its own page (except for the dragon series, which I made smaller in order to include them all). I printed them on the color printer and trimmed the edges. The letters were made from our die-cuts (wonderful device, die-cuts), but you could always create your own bubble letters to fit the size you need. There were a few other titles that we found, but I ran out of room so I picked the ones that enlarged and printed the clearest.

Personally, I think this was one of my most sucessful displays, as quite a few people asked for books from the bulletin board and even more stopped to look and admire the collection of titles.

I’ll be featuring more of my bulletin board displays from now on. For now, are you responsible for the display space in your library, and what has been your favorite bulletin board display?

Friday Feature – Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #7

This Friday Feature post concludes my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

This was the final book discussion, and also the smallest group, with only 15 youth participating in the discussion. That was actually a good thing, as it allowed everyone more time to discuss. Since the movie had been released in theatres by the time we hosted this discussion group, I had to stress to the participants that we were focussing on the book, and NOT the movie. Even still, several participants got sidetracked. For the most part, I think all the discussions went well, and the kids proved they had great memories and provided insightful feedback.

1. Were you surprised that Dudley told Harry “I don’t think you’re a waste of space.” Then he hugged him? How do you think Dudley felt about Harry? Do you think his parents influenced his opinion of his cousin? Why do you think Harry’s aunt and uncle disliked him so much? Do you think Harry was sad to leave?

2. Why do you think Harry is so against the plan to leave his house? Harry says “If you think I’m going to let six people risk their lives …” and Ron sarcastically responds “because it’s the first time for all of us.” (48-49) How do you think Harry feels about putting so many people’s lives in danger? Do you think his friends would be so willing to risk their lives if they were the only ones?

3. This book does not follow the format of the other books because Harry spends most of his time away from Hogwarts. Did you like this new way of presenting the story, or did you want to see what Harry did at Hogwarts after the Death Eaters took over?

4. How does the death of Dobby affect Harry? What was your reaction? Do you think he needed to die? Were you surprised by Kreecher’s actions at the end of the book?

5. Do you think Umbridge is willingly or knowingly working for the Death Eaters at the Ministry? Were you surprised that the Death Eaters were so successful in taking over so many places so quickly? Would you have resisted, and if so how?

6. Dumbledore has his own motives for being angry at Muggles, considering his sister’s resulting insanity. Are his reasons better or worse than Voldemort’s reasons for disliking Muggles? What happened to change Dumbledore’s impression of them?

7. Harry disagrees with Dumbledore when he says “I had proven, as a very young man, that power was my weakness and my temptation. It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” (718) What are your reactions to this quote? Do you think Dumbledore is true? Do you think he’s being too hard on himself? Do you think Harry was a good leader?

8. People have died in the series before this book, but there more deaths in this book then in any other book. Did you expect that many people to die? Who were you most disappointed to see die? Was there too much violence for a children’s book? Is the language appropriate for a children’s book?

9. Was anyone confused about the Horucruxes? How many were made total? Do you think the spells to make them influenced who Voldemort became?

10. Where do you think Harry ended up after he “died”? Harry asks Dumbledore “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” and Dumbledore answers “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (723) What do you think? Were you surprised by the reactions that some people had when they saw Harry in Hagrid’s arms?

11. What did you think of the Epilogue, giving a glimpse into everyone’s lives nineteen years later? Did you want to know, or would you have rather guessed at what happened? Did things turn out the way you expected?

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #6

This Friday Feature post continues my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

I was very careful when drafting these questions to avoid going into too much detail about the horcruxes, since some of them are left for the seventh book and readers still have questions at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

1. Dumbledore describes Horace Slughorn as someone who “likes the company of the famous, the successful, and the powerful. He enjoys the feeling that he influences these people. He has never wanted to occupy the throne himself; he prefers the backseat – more room to spread out, you see.” (74-75)

  • How does his attitude towards fame compare and contrast to Harry’s and Professor Lockhart’s attitude?
  • What do you think J.K. Rowling is trying to say about fame when she portrays it in these different ways?
  • Why does Slughorn want to surround himself with wizards he thinks will become famous, and what does he stand to gain from these relationships?

2. Why do Ginny, Hermione, and Mrs. Weasley dislike Fleur? Do their opinions of her change by the end of this book?

3. Luna tells Harry that she enjoyed the D.A. meetings because “It was like having friends.” (138) Do you think Luna is lonely? Do you think she acts the way she does on purpose? Why or why not? Would you want Luna as a friend?

4. Is Dumbledore right when he says that since he’s “rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly hunger.” (195) Do you think that applies to everyone? Are there other attributes besides cleverness that could affect the ramifications of a mistake?

5. Should Ron have become the Keeper for Gryffindorf? Should Hermione have cast a spell on McLaggen, the other person trying out for the Keeper position? Was Harry right in tricking Ron into thinking that he’d drank the lucky potion?

6. Dumbledore keeps putting off answering Harry’s questions about his whereabouts. Do you think he should have told Harry sooner? What did you think about Dumbledore inviting Harry along on his missions and searches for the Horcruxes?

7. Dumbledore asks Harry if he feels sorry for Voldemort. Do you feel sorry, or at least differently, about Voldemort after hearing about his upbringing? If you were Harry, would you admit it if you did feel sorry?

8. We see a lot more romance in this book that in previous books. Tonks and Lupin at the end of the book, Bill and Fleur are engaged, Hermione asks Ron to be her guest at the Slug Club party but then takes someone else to make him mad, and Harry finally kisses Ginny. Was Ron a coward for not making the first move? When did you suspect Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny might have liked each other? Did you ever think Harry and Hermione would end up together? Was Harry right in worrying about their friendship?

9. Should they have closed Hogwarts? Would you have wanted to attend Hogwarts with everything that was going on during that time?

10. Dumbledore asks Harry “If Voldemort had never heard of the prophecy, would it have been fulfilled? Would it have meant anything? […] Do you think every prophecy in the Hall of Prophecy has been fulfilled? […] The prophecy does not mean you have to do anything.” (510-512) How would you respond to these questions? Do you think the prophecy predetermined Harry’s and Voldemort’s actions?

11. Were you surprised that J.K. Rowling killed Dumbledore? Were you surprised Snape was the one that killed him? Were you surprised that Harry’s suspicions against Snape and Malfoy finally proved right? Should Harry have kept the good luck potion for himself? Discuss.

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #5

This Friday Feature post continues my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:


It’s with this title that we started to lose people. Maybe it was the timing (the discussion took place just after July 4th) or maybe it was because it was geared towards older kids, or maybe because it’s the longest book, clocking in at a whopping 896 pages. In any case, we only had twenty people show up, which is obviously still a good showing for a book as long as it is. One thing that I want to note here is that the kids were really interested in talking about the snake’s attack of Arthur Weasley and also what happened to Sirius, which I hadn’t wanted to breach because of how things play out in future books. However, we did discuss those two scenes briefly, and I would encourage other librarians to incorporate them into their own discussions.

1. Harry saves Dudley from a group of dementors at the beginning of the book. Why do you think Harry stops the dementors? What would you have done in that same situation? Do you think Dudley thinks about magic differently now that he’s been on the receiving end?

2. Professor Umbridge takes over teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts and refuses to allow the students to actually perform the spells, insisting that “As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions.” (244) Is she right? Do you think your teachers would agree with this philosophy? What do you think about this method of teaching?

3. Harry receives detention from Professor Umbridge repeatedly for talking back to her. Why is it so difficult for Harry to hold his tongue? Do you think Harry should have told someone about her form of detention? What other forms of detention have we seen throughout the series, and how do they compare to her tasks?

4. Why doesn’t anyone want to listen to Harry when he tries warning that Voldemort has returned? Should Harry have tried harder to convince people? What reasons do people give for believing or not believing him?

5. Harry does not initially want to be a teacher for Dumbledore’s Army. Why is he so opposed to the idea to begin with and do you agree with his reasons? (327-328) Why do you think so many students joined the DA, even though most of the school doesn’t seem to believe Harry? Does naming it the DA cause problems later on, and do you think they would have gotten in so much trouble if they’d named it something else?

6. Percy tells Ron to avoid Harry, and sends back the Christmas present he receives from his family. Why do you think Percy is distancing himself from the family so much? What do you think he hopes to accomplish while employed with the Ministry of Magic?

7. What do you think of Dumbledore assigning Snape the job of teaching Harry Occlumency? Do you think Harry would have done better or worse if someone else was teaching him how to defend against mental attacks? Could Snape have done a better job teaching Harry? Would you want anyone to have that ability or would you want that ability yourself?

8. How are Fred and George different from and the same as the rest of their family members? What do you think of their plan to open a shop of gag gifts and trick items? Should they have stayed in school?

9. Ron is amused by the concept of skiing, Professor McGonagall calls the fist-fight “Muggle dueling”, and Ron’s mother is outraged when the doctors experiment with stitches. What other Muggle things would be hard to explain to wizards? Would you be able to explain why we do those things or how they work?

10. Should Dumbledore have told Harry about the prophesy sooner? How much control do you think Harry has over his own life, and how much of it has been predetermined? Are your actions determined by your belief of what’s going to happen in the future? Does that knowledge change how you act?

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #4

This Friday Feature post continues my process of posting all the questions that I developed for a set of book discussions based on the Harry Potter book series. Today, I’m featuring Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

First I addressed the discrepancy between the first print and subsequent printings of this book. I read the scene where Harry’s parents come out of his wand, which with the hardcover is on page 667. What order do Harry’s parents exit the wands (who has James coming out first and who has Lily exiting first)? Which way is the right way? J.K. Rowling explains it on her website that the order should have been “Lily first, than James. That’s how it appears in my original manuscript but we were under enormous pressure to edit it very fast and my American editor thought that was the wrong way around, and he is so good at catching small errors I changed it without thinking, than realized it had been right in the first place. We were all very sleep-deprived at the time.” It was fixed in later printings. I did this so that everyone was on the same page as to who was supposed to come out first, in case it came up during discussion.

1. Goblet of Fire is not the longest book, but it is much longer than the first three. Do you think J. K. Rowling could have cut something out to make it shorter? If so, what would you have cut? Do you think the length of this and future books discourage some kids from continuing the series? Do you think some kids shouldn’t read this book, and why?

2. As Harry grows up, his world expands. In Goblet of Fire, Harry becomes more aware of the international wizarding community than he has been before, and we finally learn about other schools like Hogwarts.

  • What differences and similarities (for instance, in dialogue and appearance) are there between the students from each school?
  • Do these characters change how you imagine the wizarding world?
  • Where do you think these schools are located and do you think there are still more schools that we don’t know about?

3. After the Quidditch Tournament, people started celebrating and then things turned ugly. Why do you think they started harassing the Muggle family? Why do you think the Death Eaters choose that moment to come out of hiding?

4. Hermione makes a comment during the riots that Ludo Bagman is “not exactly on top of things” and Ron brushes her off by saying “He was a great Beater though.” (127) Are there other times in the story that things don’t really add up, yet people decide to ignore what’s wrong or go along with it? Why do you think people were so accepting?

5. Do you like Mad-Eye Moody? What do you think of his teaching methods? Should he be doing the things he does, like turn Draco into a ferret and cursing students? Would you want him for a teacher, and do you think he’d treat you like Malfoy or like Harry?

6. Let’s talk about all the work Hermione does in an effort to improve “Elfish Welfare”.

  • Do you think Hermione is right in thinking elves need rights, or is Ron right when he says that they “like being enslaved”? (224)
  • Why do you think Hermione is the only one concerned about their wellbeing?
  • Were you surprised that Hermione couldn’t come up with a better acronym besides S.P.E.W?
  • How do you think the elves feel about Hermione’s efforts?

7. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Ron stop talking to people he’s angry with, since he did it to Hermione in the last book and now to Harry in this book. Is this the right way for him to handle things? Do you think this is how he acts when his brothers make him angry? Would you rather have someone who is mad at you yell or stop talking?

8. It seems like every Tournament competitor gets help in some way from someone. Were they supposed to get outside help? (Let the kids answer this, then refer to page 281 for official rules, which read “The champions are not permitted to ask for or accept help of any kind from their teachers to complete the tasks in the tournament.”) Do you think it’s fair that Cedric and Harry end up working together, and do you consider that breaking the rules? Do you think the heads of the schools should have been involved in the planning and scoring during the tournament?

9. Rita Skeeter routinely embellishes the stories that she reports. Why do you think she does this? Do you think she’s aware of the consequences of her reporting? Do you think news reporters today do the same thing?

10. Why did Voldemort want to duel Harry? Do you think it was a fair fight? What do you think would have happened if only Cedric had appeared with the Triwizard Cup? Do you think the other wizards would have eventually found out about Voldemort’s return?

11. Why do you think both Cedric and Harry didn’t want to claim the prize for themselves? If the Triwizard Cup hadn’t been a portkey, who do you think should have won, and do you think the other person would have felt bad later? If you had been Harry, what would you have done with the winnings? Do you think Harry is selfless in his actions, and can you find other instances in the book to back up your answer?

Next week, Order of the Phoenix!

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #3

At my library, we just finished hosting book discussions for each of the seven Harry Potter books. Upon searching the internet for discussion questions however, I really didn’t find that many that suited my purpose. So I crafted some of my own, and some I found on the Scholastic website, and I thought I’d share them with everyone. Our third book discussion for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had a lot of repeat patrons, with myself and two parent volunteers leading the discussion with almost 30 young patrons ranging in age from eight to thirteen years old. I’ll post the rest of the questions for the remainder of the books in the following weeks.

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the previous books? Then follow the links to the desired book:

1. Oliver Wood puts a lot of pressure on his team to win the Quidditch Cup because it’s his last year. Do you think it’s fair that he is so hard on his team, especially since he’s the goal keeper and not able to score or find the snitch himself?

2. Almost immediately after meeting Professor Trelawney, Hermione expresses her dislike in her and disinterest in the subject in Divination. Professor Trelawney even tells Hermione that “from the moment you arrived in this class my dear it has been apparent that you do not have what the noble art of Divination requires.” (298)

  • Why do you think Hermione doesn’t like Divination, when she likes all her other classes? Is Ron right when he tells Hermione “You just don’t like being bad at something for a change!” (111)
  • Do you think she should have gotten out of the class earlier than she did? Why?

3. Does Hermione try to do too many things at once? Why do you think she signs up for all those classes in the first place? Is she the responsible one amongst the trio of friends? If so, does she regret or relish her role and if not, who is the responsible one?

4. It seems like Ron and Hermione spend half the book not talking to each other, either because Hermione turned in Harry’s broom or because Ron thought Crookshanks had eaten Scabbers. Hermione accuses Harry of always siding with Ron. Knowing what Harry knew at the time the fights happened, who would you have sided with and why? In other words, you don’t know that Sirius sent the broom and you don’t know Scabbers is really alive.

5. Do you think Harry should have been told that Sirius was his godfather and the events that led to his arrest before he overheard them being discussed? Should Hagrid and the others have been discussing this secret in such an open place as the Three Broomsticks? Would that knowledge have affected the way Harry acted after finding out about Sirius’s escape and when confronting everyone under the Whomping Willow?

6. Sirius’s ability to turn into a dog saved his life from the Dementors. Do you think he still would have been able to escape if he hadn’t had that ability? Do the animals that Sirius, Peter, and James turn into fit what you know about their personalities?

7. If you had the option of turning into an animal, what would you chose to become and why?

8. Sirius doesn’t deny killing Harry’s parents because he holds himself responsible for convincing them to change the secret keeper to Pettigrew. Who else in the story expresses regret in their role in how events played out? Do you think things would have changed?

9. Harry chooses not to kill Pettigrew, even though he was the one responsible for killing Harry’s parents by revealing their location to Voldemort. Why do you think he wanted to send Pettigrew to Azkaban instead? Would you have made the decision?

10. Sirius tells Harry that he is “truly his father’s son”. What does he mean by that? What are some similarities and differences between Harry and his father?

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #2

At my library, we just finished hosting book discussions for each of the seven Harry Potter books. Upon searching the internet for discussion questions however, I really didn’t find that many that suited my purpose. So I crafted some of my own, and some I found on the Scholastic website, and I thought I’d share them with everyone. Our second book discussion maintained the momentum of the first, with myself and two parent volunteers leading the discussion with almost 30 young patrons ranging in age from eight to thirteen years old. EVERYONE had a blast, and I’ll post the rest of the questions for the remainder of the books soon. Man, where did the summer go?!

Did you miss the set of discussion questions for the first book? Then click here. Next up is the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

1. Why do you think the Dursley’s feel the way they do about magic? Do you think it would have been different if Dudley was the one with magic, but his parents still didn’t have any?

2. In The Chamber of Secrets, Dobby says he knew of Harry’s “greatness but not of his goodness” (page 15). What is the difference between greatness and goodness? Could Harry be the great wizard everyone thinks he is if he didn’t have this goodness?

3. Throughout the book, Dobby is conflicted by what he should do. Why do you think Dobby chose to help Harry to begin with? Does Dobby really help Harry? Did you like Dobby?

4. Malfoy gets blamed for a lot of the bad things that happen, from enchanting Bludgers to opening the Chamber of Secrets. Why do you think Harry and Ron are so quick to blame Malfoy, even when Hermione thinks otherwise? What could be the reason Malfoy acts the way he does?

5. In The Chamber of Secrets, we discover that Slytherin had wanted Hogwarts to be a school only for full bloods, with no mudbloods admitted. His prejudice against anyone different from himself creates all sorts of problems.Can you think of other instances where people have been treated differently because of something that was different? What happened in those cases? Do we still have those kinds of prejudices today?

6. If you had the opportunity to make and take Polyjuice Potion, who would you want to turn into and what would you do? Remember, you only have an hour, and you have to have access to a piece of them.

7. If you had to chose, who would you rather be like and why?

  • Filch, who lives in a magical world but is unable to do magic
  • Hermione, who is Muggle-born but can do magic
  • Harry, who is a wizard but has to live amongst Muggles and can’t use his magic

8. Hagrid encourages Ron and Harry to “follow the spiders.” Should he have done that? Does Hagrid encourage them to break the rules on purpose or too often? What qualities make Hagrid a good or bad role model? Ron tells Harry that Hagrid “always thinks monsters aren’t as bad as they’re made out, and look where it’s got him! A cell in Azkaban” (280-281) Do you think the Ministry of Magic made the right decision when they took Hagrid away?

9. Why do you think Ron and Harry forced Professor Lockart to go with them into the Chamber of Secrets? Should they have gotten help before going down there? Should Hermione have gotten an adult when she figured out what was attacking the students? After talking about Professor Lockart and Hagrid, and with Professor Dumbledore out of the building, is there a teacher you think they could have gone to for help?

10. Tom Marvolo Riddle eventually reveals himself to Harry as Voldemort. He tells Harry “There are strange likenesses between us, after all. Even you must have noticed.” (page 317). What are the similarities between Tom Riddle and Harry? What does Harry think of these likenesses?

11. On page 333, Dumbledore says “”It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

  • What do you think Dumbledore means? Do you agree with Dumbledore?
  • How did Harry’s choices prove who he really was?
  • Can you think of some instances in the book that people or things proved different than what they appeared? Do you think J.K. Rowling did this on purpose?

Friday Feature — Discussion Questions for Harry Potter #1

At my library, we’re hosting book discussions for each of the seven Harry Potter books. Upon searching the internet for discussion questions however, I really didn’t find that many that suited my purpose. So I crafted some of my own, and some I found on the Scholastic website, and I thought I’d share them with everyone. Our first book discussion went extremely well, with myself and two parent volunteers leading the discussion with 30 young patrons ranging in age from eight to thirteen years old. EVERYONE had a blast, and we’re looking forward to the next one.

First up, is the first book, known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, if you live “across the pond.”)

1. J. K. Rowling gives several clues that something is different about Harry Potter. Did you like having chapter one introduce the characters that you’d later meet at Hogwarts, or would you rather have been surprised? What were the warning signs that Harry Potter isn’t like other kids?

2. Harry Potter begins at the Dursley’s house and then discovers that he’s headed for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Can you think of any other books where the characters start in a normal world and discover that it’s different or magical? What are some similarities and differences at both Hogwarts and in the Muggle world?

3. When Harry arrives at Hogwarts, he meets Professor Dumbledore, who is not your average principal. Would you want him at your school? What classes at Hogwarts would you want to take if you had the opportunity? Which teachers do you think you’d like the most and the least?

4. Harry is sorted into Gryffindor, along with Ron and Hermione. How do you think the story would have changed if they hadn’t been placed in the same house? Do you think Harry would have still succeeded against the obstacles without Ron and Hermione?

5. Harry makes two friends at Hogwarts, Hermione and Ron. Each of the three characters has their own strengths and weaknesses, which are all put to use by the end of the book. Discuss what these are, and how they assist in the end. Which of the three characters are you most like and which character do you want to resemble?

6. Neville gets picked on a lot at school. Do you think his actions encourage Draco Malfoy and his friends teasing? When he finally asserts himself, it’s towards Harry, Ron, and Hermoine and not against Draco. What happened? Is it easier to stand up for yourself amongst people you like or people you don’t like?

7. Harry and his classmates spend a lot of time in the library and they use quill pens and scrolls to write their papers. Why do you think they don’t have computers? What other forms of technology are they missing? Do you think you’d be able to give it all up for a chance to attend Hogwarts?

8. J. K. Rowling uses things that you can find in traditional tales, myths, and legends. For instance, the Sorcerer’s Stone is also known as the Philosopher’s Stone, and has been sought-after for years by Isaac Newton and Nicolas Flamel. What other things do you recognize as part of other myths?

9. The author has a lot of fun with names. Did you notice the Mirror of Erised spells “Desire” backwards? What other names give you an idea ahead of time about the character or object? What names are misleading?

10. In chapter Nine, Harry disobeys a direct order and rides on a broom stick for the first time. While this might normally lead to expulsion from school, instead he’s honored with the Seeker position.
* Can you find other instances in the story where Harry’s actions lead to the opposite from what is expected or that he’s given special treatment from the staff or students? Why do you think this happens?
* Is it ever a good idea to disobey the rules?
* Is it fair that Harry gets treated differently, and what would you do if you realized you were being treated differently from other students?

11. Quirrel tells Harry that “There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” (page 291) Do you agree with this? Is this the reality of the world? Or if good and evil do exist, what makes them so? Which is more important in the world, power, or good and evil?

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