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Things Hoped For

Last updated Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Author: Andrew Clements
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 039924350X
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2009

Synopsis: Since leaving West Virginia for New York City two years ago, Gwen has been living with her grandfather and studying violin at the Manhattan School of Music. Now a senior, she finds tensions rising as the conservatory auditions that will determine her future as a violinist approach. When Grampa disappears after leaving a reassuring, though cryptic, message on the answering machine, shy Gwen is unsettled but determined to carry on with her routine. Several days later, the manner of his reappearance is a shock, but by that time Gwen has an ally: Robert, a trumpet student who wants to help and seems uniquely qualified to do so. Robert will be better known to readers of Clements' Things Not Seen (2002) as Bobby, who woke up invisible one morning and struggled to become visible again. Gwen's story, which takes place two years later, is already disquieting when an unpredictable and dangerous character enters the story, drawn by Robert's experience with invisibility. That subplot recedes in importance, though, beside the realistic depiction of a young woman who is thrown off kilter by emotional turmoil and not just regains her balance but also gains a new level of confidence. This offers a riveting story line, engaging characters, and intriguing insights into the development of musical artistry.

Note to readers:
•  Start from Chapter 1 to get a thorough introduction of the main character, Gwen and the eventual issues she may face.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know what skyscrapers are?
•  Have you ever seen skyscrapers in the city?
•  How tall do you think the skyscrapers are?
•  Are you able to identify the music symbol (the treble clef) on the front cover?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  The main character Gwen is originally from West Virginia, which city is she living in now?
•  Gwen resides with her grandpa, what type of relationship do they have? Are you close with your grandparents?
•  Gwen attends a high school that emphasizes music. Are any of you interested in going to a music high school?
•  What are some of Gwen's top college choices?
•  Do you know what fraud means? And do you feel that Gwen's grandpa is asking her to lie for him?

Craft ideas:
•  A "Things Hoped For" crossword puzzle and word search will be provided for the students.

*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!