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The Big One-Oh

Last updated Thursday, January 31, 2008

Author: Dean Pitchford
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0399245472
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2008

Synopsis: From amazon.com: Charley Maplewood has never been one for parties—that would require friends, which he doesn’t have. But now that he’s turning ten—the big one-oh—he decides to throw a birthday party for himself, complete with a “House of Horrors” theme. Of course things don’t work out as he plans. In trying to make friends, he ends up inviting the class bully Cougar to come, and that’s before he ruins the cake and sets the garage on fire. Will Charley be able to pull it together before the big one-oh . . . becomes the big OH-NO!?

Note to readers:
•  Chapters 1-8 are pretty much an introduction but the meat of the story happens later. We meet Charley, whose Dad is a Chef in Scotland. Charley lives with his mom and big sister, and he likes to cook. He is planning his 10th birthday party. Next door lives Garry, a creepy guy who becomes Charley’s friend (he is a special effects person). You may wish to read only Chapter 9-16, which show Charley preparing for his big party.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How long until you turn 10–the big one-oh?
•  Are you looking forward to this birthday? Is this a big birthday for you?
•  Are you planning a big party? Will it be a theme party?
•  What do you like to do for your birthday?
•  What kind of birthday cake do you like?
•  Do you have a lot of friends? Who are your best friends?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you have older or younger brothers and sisters? Do your older brothers and sisters help you out? Are you friends with them?
•  Can boys and girls be good friends?
•  How do you know whether someone is your friend or not?
•  Do you like to cook? What’s your favorite food?
•  Do you have any pets? What are their names?
•  What would the best birthday party be like? What would your theme be?
•  If you could design your birthday cake, what would it look like?
•  Charley is trying to make friends. How do you make friends with people? What qualities do you look for in a friend?
•  Why do you think Charley and Garry become good friends?
•  Why was Charley’s mom scared when she went to Garry’s house?
•  Why does Charley run away from Vince’s grocery store?
•  Do you think it was okay for Charley to sign for Garry’s package? What would have been the right thing to do?
•  Who do you think the monster at Charley’s party is?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a birthday hat for your Big One-Oh. Color and decorate it and attach it with yarn/string. A birthday hat template will be provided.
•  Make a scary monster mask. Cut out weird shapes for the nose, ears, eyes and mouth. Cut out a different color face and attach the nose, ears, eyes and mouth. Attach your monster mask to a popsicle stick or with string/yarn.
•  Make a scary Valentine’s Day card for your family and friends. Draw scary/smiling monsters, glue or tape yarn/string for blood and guts.
•  Draw a picture or use construction paper to create your ideal birthday cake. Make 10 candles and on each candle write a quality you want in a friend.

Special activities:
•  Create a monster flip book. Take 3-4 sheet of paper and draw a left margin (1/2-1 inch). For each sheet, draw big monster eyes on the top 1/3, monster ears and nose in the middle 1/3, and a monster mouth on the bottom 1/3. Make sure each page is different. Place sheets on top of each other and glue left margins together like a book. Cut across (from right to left, but don't cut the margin) each 1/3 of page. Now you have a monster face book that you can flip across and mismatch eyes and nose and mouth. You can exchange monsters with friends before gluing the pages together for even crazier monsters!

*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!