Snack on bananas and donut holes while talking through the discussion questions. Play two team games. 1) Rock, Paper, Scissors baseball. (I also considered paper baseball, but I thought a large motor activity would be better.) 2) A synonym game where you draw a word card (bad, good, said, beautiful, big, small, delicious, fast, interesting, sad) and then each team writes down as many synonyms as they can in one minute. Take turns reading out your synonyms. Get one point for each word. You can not repeat a word the other team has already used. I also designed a Make Your Own Magic Friend game, but then I forgot to bring in the dice for it. Oops!
I had 6 boys with 4 moms and a dad. The boys loved the donut holes (and totally connected them to the story) but didn’t touch the bananas. Everyone who read the book liked it, but many of the parents didn’t read it this time, and some of the boys didn’t finish. It was a lot longer than some of our other recent selections. They had a good discussion anyway. It was interesting how the two different tables approached the questions. At one table, all three boys swore they would never give up their best friend for wishes, and at the other they all said they’d take the three wishes and use one of them to get their friend back and still have two wishes. (Of course, that was the table where the boys actually finished the book, which may have had something to do with it.)
The discussion went about 20 minutes, and then we moved into the games. The two teams were the Dodgers and the Sweetish Fish (both good book references). We played two rounds of the synonym game, which was really fun, especially once the adults got competitive. Our two words were “bad” and “big.” We could have played more, but I thought they were ready for some large motor activity, so we moved on to the Rock, Paper, Scissors baseball. The boys loved this game. We could have played it a lot longer, but I cut them off to tally the final score (Dodgers: 20, Sweetish Fish: 25) and then we wound down.
Next month – How to Save Your Tail: if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big hairy chimney trolls– and cookies too by Mary Elizabeth Hanson
- Willie chose to banish Dodger in order to be granted three wishes. Do you think that Willie made the right choice? Why? What would you do if you were given the opportunity to have three wishes, but would have to lose your best friend? (adapted from Edwards County School District guide)
- Willie said that the scariest 11 words in the English language are “I won’t be alone. I’ll be with Dodger — in your house!” What do you think are the 11 scariest words in the English language?
- Willie thinks his parents are overprotective. Do you agree? Why? What are the pluses and minuses of having protective parents?
- Do you think it’s possible to have a perfect family? Why? If you could change something about your family by wishing, what would you change?
- Which genie would you rather have – Dodger, or the Great Lasorda? Why?
- Think of something you’d like to improve at. Would you rather get better all at once by magic, or by working for it? Why?
- At the end of the book, why didn’t the author tell you how the game ended? What do you think happened? Did you like the ending? Why?