The End of the Beginning

By: 

Avi

Number of Pages: 

143

Minimum grade level: 

1st

Avon's life has been the same up to now. Tomorrow is just like yesterday, and today is pretty much the same. He is sad when he reads books about creatures that have adventures. When the stories end, the creatures are always happy. A life without adventure is the same as no life at all. He must have an adventure! But just when does one start an adventure, he wonders? "If it's going to be tomorrow, it might as well be today," a friendly newt tells him. Avon decides to make it happen. His life will start today!

But just how does one find an adventure, he wonders? When he meets Edward the ant, he gets some more advice: "You have to start before you begin, because you can't stop if you haven't started, and really, the end is just the beginning." Avon invites him to join the journey because, even if Edward doesn't have the right answers to his questions, at least he'll have the wrong ones. But where can they go? It looks pretty much the same everywhere they can see. As they look out into the world they might have to look in, too!

So off they go, taking not just any fork in the branch. "Do you know where we are?" asks Avon. "..could be only 2 places," says Edward, "here or there." It's better, they decide, to look for nothing and find something, than to look for something and find nothing.

Will their journey end before they begin?

And when it's over, where will they have really been?

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. What do you think about the book? How would you describe it to a friend?
  2. What did you think about the drawings? How did they add to the story
  3. Describe the characters of Avon and Edward. What sorts of qualities do they share? What characteristics make them different from one another? How do the illustrations in the book add to or change your impressions of the two main characters?
  4. Avon seems to think that you have to go on an adventure in order to be happy. Do you think this is true? Did going on an adventure make Avon happy?
  5. Which is your favorite of the characters Avon and Edward meet on their journey? Why? Does their encounter change what happens on the journey?
  6. Avon and Edward set out on their journey without knowing where they are going. Have you ever set out without knowing where you will end up? Do you prefer to have a destination in mind, or not?
  7. At the end of their journey, Avon ends up back at this own home, only he does not realize it. How do you think it would have changed his experience if he had realized the truth?
  8. How did Avon and Edward's journey change the way they see the world? What adventures have you gone on? Did it change you? Did it change how you see the world?
  9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? Who would you take with you? Who would you write a letter to?
  10. Near the end, Avon tells a story about a race with a grasshopper that never really happened. Edward seems to think it's easier to tell a story about something that isn't real: "there's not much danger of telling it wrong." Do you think that's true? Is it easier for you to make up a story or tell about something real?

If you liked this book try

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders
  • The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
  • Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
  • The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank Stockton

Snacks

Tea and cookies (as served by the salamander), cheese (the cricket's favorite), Gummy worms and insects.

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.