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The Stranger

Last updated Thursday, October 4, 2018

Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Date of Publication: 1986
ISBN: 0395423317
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2018

Synopsis: From Publishers Weekly: "Farmer Bailey thinks he's hit a deer while driving his truck, but in the middle of the road lies a man, an enigmatic stranger. He goes home with Farmer Bailey, his memory apparently gone. Weeks pass at the Bailey farm; the stranger seems happy to be around them, and helps with the harvest. Oddly, while trees to the north of the farm turn red and gold with the arrival of fall, Bailey's land seems to be in a state of perpetual summer. One day, the stranger sees geese flying south and knows that he, too, must leave. Not long after that, the leaves at the farm change color and the air turns cool. And every year since, summer lasts a week longer at the Bailey farm than anywhere else."

Note to readers:
•  The story includes a character inviting a stranger into their home, so please take care to address the issue of strangers. We don't want kids to take this story literally, but it is also a good teachable moment to talk about strangers. One of the characters hits the stranger with his car and maybe this is why he feels obligated to care for him and invites him in. However, in today's world, we would take them to seek medical attention.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a stranger?


•  hermit - a person who lives alone and away from others
•  hypnotized - capture the whole attention of someone; fascinate
•  peculiar - odd, strange or unusual
•  drab - not bright; dull

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Favorite season of the year? (Fall, Summer, Winter, Spring)
•  Why does the leaf change colors when the stranger touches it?

Craft ideas:
•  Make clothespin zombie puppet crafts with zombie faces.
•  Make a pumpkin treat bag out of felt with string to tie it all up together. Volunteers can help poke holes in the felt.
•  Make paper monster bags with any design they want. They can design it to be mysterious like the book.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*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!