Discussion Guide for the Books of Joan Bauer

Explore teaching activities to be used with books by Joan Bauer.
Grades:
9 |
10 |
11 |
Subjects:
Updated: June 9, 2019
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Titles always hold special significance to the story. For example, how does the title Hope Was Here focus your attention as a reader? Other than the literal reference, what else does the title suggest about the book? Does it tell you the truth? What about the titles of Backwater and Rules of the Road? How does each indicate the literal and symbolic nature of the stories?
     
  2. Hope's name is pivotal to the development of her character and to the development of the story. How do the various definitions of the word "hope" add to the story? See, for example, the reference made on page 22.
     
  3. There are other important symbols in this story. What roles do each of the following play in terms of developing character, advancing the plot, or serving as foreshadowing?

    · Day lily (page 85)
    · Welcome stairways (page 14)

    Are there other symbols essential to the story? If so, what are they?

  4. In each of Bauer's works, it is important to the main character that she provide some sense of comfort to the people she encounters. For Jenna in Rules of the Road, comfort comes in the form of the perfect show for each customer. How does Hope provide that measure of comfort? What does this tell you about her character? How about Ivy Breedlove in Backwater?
     
  5. Fathers are a central concern to the characters in Hope Was Here, Backwater, and Rules of the Road. Discuss the similarities and differences among the fathers of Hope, Ivy, and Jenna.
     
  6. Ultimately, all characters leave their mark on us as readers. How does Hope leave her mark literally and figuratively? How do Ivy and Jenna leave their marks?
     
  7. Why is humor such an essential ingredient in each of Joan Bauer's books? How would the stories change if they were somehow more "serious" in tone? How would your response to the story be affected?
     
  8. Occasionally, we are swayed to purchase a book because the title is intriguing. Bauer used the title Welcome Stairways as she wrote Hope Was Here. The title changed after the story was completed. What reaction do you have to the working title? Might the working title affect your reaction to the book? What alternative titles might you suggest for Rules of the Road and Backwater?
RECOMMENDED READING

If you enjoyed the works of Joan Bauer, we have some other titles to suggest. In some cases, the recommended books contain good humor, sometimes they feature young men facing obstacles in their lives. Finally, some of these books feature heroic females as main characters.

Books to Make You Laugh

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Viking Children's Books
HC: 0-670-88549-5, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-131007-3, $5.99 ($8.99 CAN)

Gypsy Rizka by Lloyd Alexander
Dutton Children's Books
HC: 0-525-46121-3, $16.99 ($26.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-130980-6, $4.99 ($6.00 CAN)

Where the Boys Are:

Over the Wall by John H. Ritter
Philomel Books
HC: 0-399-23489-6, $17.99 ($25.99 CAN)

Boltzmon! by William Sleator
Dutton Children's Books
HC: 0-525-46131-0, $15.99 ($24.99 CAN)

Strong Women

The Other Ones by Jean Thesman
Viking Children's Books
HC: 0-670-88594-0, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)

Christmas in Heaven by Carol Lynch Williams
G. P. 's Sons
HC: 0-399-23449-7, $16.99 ($23.99 CAN)

Destiny by Vicki Grove
G. P. 's Sons
HC: 0-399-23449-7, $16.99 ($23.99 CAN)

The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss
Dial Books for Young Readers
HC: 0-8037-2494-2, $16.99 ($25.99 CAN)

INTERNET SITES OF INTEREST

Joan Bauer website
www.joanbauer.com
The official website of the author.

Virginia Tech Digital Library
http://borg.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/winter96/bauer.htm
Here is an article written by Joan Bauer on writing books with humor, entitled "Humor, Seriously."

New York State Library
www.nysl.nysed.gov
This will link you to the New York State Library, where you can discover lots of interesting information about the Adirondack Mountains, site of much of the novel, Backwater.

Wisconsin Directory of Attractions
www.wistravel.com
Lots of details about Wisconsin, the setting of Hope Was Here.

Finally, type the word "shoes" into a search engine and see where the road leads you! Rules of the Road is about finding your own way, after all.

Penguin Young Readers Group

Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.


The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.
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