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Surviving the Applewhites

Last updated Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Author: Stephanie Tolan
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0066236029
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2006

Synopsis: Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state. Only one place will take him now, and that's a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. The only one who doesn't fit the Applewhite mold is E.D. -- a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the unruly Jake. Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze ... but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?

Note to readers:
•  This story is told in first person, alternating point of view between two characters. Students should understand first and third person and the idea of point of view; review these ideas with them. Try to read to at least the end of chapter 4 so that you read two chapters from each main character?s point of view.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What defines a ?family?" Are there different kinds of families?
•  This story takes place in North Carolina. Where is that?
•  Do you know kids who seem to get in a lot of trouble? What happens to them?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How is the setting of this story different from where you live? What kind of place does the story take place in?
•  In the first chapter, what is E.D.?s opinion of Jake? What does she base her opinion on?
•  What does Jake look like? Why is he at the Applewhites??
•  In chapter 2, Jake says that he learned early that ?words have power? (p. 7). What kind of power is he talking about? In what other ways are words powerful?
•  Why do you think Jake behaves the way he does? What kind of reaction does his behavior usually get from people?
•  The Applewhites react very differently to Jake than most people do. What effect do you think this will have on Jake?s behavior?
•  How does E.D. feel herself to be different from the rest of her family?
•  What predictions would you make about this story? How do you think Jake will change? Do you think E.D. will change also? How?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw Jake.
•  E.D. gets to design her own program for learning. If you could do that, what would you want to learn? How would you want to learn it? Design your own ?plan for learning? and illustrate it.
•  If you could design a school, what would it look like? Draw a picture of the school or create a plan of it.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!