Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can You Help Me and Vera?

A HUGE thank you for the great response to this plea for help! The discussion guide is made and almost ready to go. I have turned off comments for this post.

Teachers, librarians, readers, bloggers, tap dancers and anyone else who has read PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, I need your help.
I am making a discussion guide for PIVD because many teachers and librarians are using it in their classrooms and are looking for a guide. Though I can think of many questions myself, I'm not a teacher and I'm not sure my questions or discussion topics would be as relevant as yours because I wrote the book.

This would be a collaborative effort and I'd do my best to include all contributors somewhere on the final brochure. If you can contribute a question or discussion point, please leave one in the comment area with your contact info! Thank you! This would be a great help to the hundreds of people who search Google for "Vera Dietz discussion guide" every month.

I thank you in advance!



Liz Koehler said...

When Vera saw Charlie was he really there?

Why do you think that the book was told from multiple perspectives? How did this add to the reader's understanding of the story? How would the story have been different if it was only told from Vera's perspective?

Could Charlie and Vera ever have had a successful relationship? (Why/why not?)

Do you think that Jenny Flick really hates Vera? (Why/ why not?)

Some kind of discussion point about whether Jenny Flick is really all bad.

Why do you think that Vera drinks? Do you think that she is really an alcoholic?

What are Vera's fears? Are they justified? What are Vera's father's fears?

What does it mean to be a good parent? What does it mean to be a daughter? What does it mean to be a good friend? Who in this book was/wasn't a good parent/daughter/friend? Who redeemed himself/herself?

Is Vera's dad a good dad? Was Vera's mom a bad mom?

Why does Vera want to maintain a low profile, for people to ignore her?

Why does Vera insist on delivering pizza?

What do the flow charts tell us? What do they show us? Why are they in the story?

Why doesn't Vera call the police on the pervert who answers the door?

Did Vera ever stop loving Charlie? Can Vera ever stop loving Charlie?

What do you think will happen to Vera in the future?

What was most surprising in this book?

Liz Koehler
Darlington Middle School Library
1014 Cave Spring Rd.
Rome, GA 30161

Maya said...

I love Liz's questions, and I have one to add.

What was so significant about the Pagoda's story? Would the story have been the same without it, and how has the story benefited from it?

A.S. King said...

This is so amazing you guys! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I will leave this post open to comments until I have enough to work with.
Maya--can I have your name/details? If more comfortable via email, I'm at

Thank you again. Liz, you are genius. :)

Maya said...

Oh yeah! Sure. :)

Maya Espersen
Book blogger at
SUNY Albany Libraries
1400 Washington Ave.
Albany, NY 12222

Rosemary said...

Students, take a minute to page through the book and find a section that you liked because it was meaningful or well-written. Be prepared to read it aloud to the class and say why it matters to you.

Unknown said...

I loved Rosemary's suggestion!

Just finished the book and I adored it. I believe the topic of bullying needs to be discussed. Long term effects. Short term effects. Why might teenagers react with bullying. AND I think that it was so significant, that you as the author acknowledged (through your teenage character), that adults often think to turn away or ignore is best. I loved that your teenager was growing and maturing and able to see through this adult notion. I think a discussion could be made about this. What a powerful theme in your book.

Marie Mengel
Reading School District
Reading, PA

Jonathon Arntson said...

I like the previous questions very much! As a student going into secondary education, I have a list of books I dream about including in class. Of course Vera is on the list, and these questions give me lots of motivation to keep on trekking in my education and my own writing.

A.S. King said...

Rosemary, Marie & Jonathan, Thank you!
Marie--if you think VERA spoke a bit about bullying, you need to read the next book, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. Come to the launch on the 4th of October too!

Thanks to my good pal Carrie Neely, a professor at U. of Delaware, I have some great class materials for VERA, but a discussion guide also had to be made. So now I will spend my nights constructing one out of these awesome questions and will soon make it available for download.

Thanks again!

Beth Kephart said...

Darned cool. Can't wait to see the guide.

Drew said...

Shocked that Rosemary said: "be prepared to read aloud to class." In mere seconds I was transported back to 1986, 1987 and 1988. Spooky.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Well, I'm not a teacher; I'm a bookseller! But I'd like to see a question about the problem of hunger. One of the Pagoda's very wise asides addresses the issue. I was shocked to learn there could be that many hungry kids in one small American city.

Possible wording: Why do you think the Pagoda tells us how many children in the town are hungry? What does this have to do with Vera's story?

A.S. King said...

Joanne--I am so glad this little fact got through to readers. In fact, the number of hungry children in the US has gone up since I wrote VERA and it's a subject close to my heart. Thank you for adding this point and for being an awesome bookseller. The world would suck without awesome booksellers.

Drew--Yes. Me too.

Beth--thank you for pushing me to finally do this! I was getting those Google search strings for almost a year and was hoping a guide would just make itself, I guess. :)

Thank you so much for all these awesome ideas! Now, to carve out an hour or two to compile this and make it pretty!

Deborah Davis said...

A few more questions regarding the abuse going on in Charlie's home:

Why did neither Vera nor her parents report the abuse the witnessed and heard over the years? What concerns might they have had that stopped them? What do you think you would have done if you were in their situation? What resources can someone in Vera's family's situation utilize in such a situation?

L Denehy said...

I booktalked VERA yesterday, and all 5 of my copies (3 personal) went out. I really liked Liz's questions, and asked the students to be thinking about the role of the Pagoda in the book. I also asked them to think of a place in town that might play the same role in our "story" as the Pagoda did in VERA.