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Playing Dad's Song

Last updated Thursday, February 21, 2008

Author: D. Dina Friedman
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 0374371733
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2008

Synopsis: From Gus Moskowitz knows that sixth graders are too old to curl up under a quilt, but thats the only place he can hide from the school bully, his nagging older sister, and, worst of all, his fathers death. Its been two years since Guss father was killed in the World Trade Center, and Gus cant figure out how to move on. His mother thinks he needs to do something anything so she rents him an oboe and signs him up for lessons with her bosss elderly father, Mr. M. As Guss friendship with Mr. M. develops, so does his passion for classical music, and soon he decides to compose a song of his own, a tribute to his father. But even if Gus can find a way to wrap up his fathers life in a single song, will he ever find the courage to play it? In turns playful and poignant, Playing Dads Song personalizes the losses at the World Trade Center in New York City by focusing on one childs struggle with the tragedy.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What instrument is he playing? (oboe)
•  Do you play any instruments?
•  What do you see on the cover? What do you think the story will be about?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever been to New York? What is it like? Have you been to the city?
•  Do you have any brothers/sisters? Do you like having them? Do you ever fight with them?
•  Liza wants to go to Harvard. Where do you want to go to college?
•  Gus talks about how he wants to compose his life. How would you compose your life if you could? What does he mean by composing his life?
•  What is your favorite food?
•  What is your ancestry? Where is your family from?
•  Have you ever taken music lessons?
•  Have you ever wanted to learn an instrument? Which one?

Craft ideas:
•  Make an oboe from a straw.

*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!