Red Kayak


Priscilla Cummings

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


13-year-old Brady likes his new neighbors, the DiAngelos. He even babysits for their young son, Ben, and enjoys playing Legos and watching movies with the little boy. Then one morning he is called out of class to go on a rescue mission. Mrs. DiAngelo and Ben were lost on the river in their red kayak. Brady finds the kayak and resuscitates the little boy, but it isn't enough. In the days and months that follow, he does everything he can to help his neighbors. He thought that was hard, but when he finds out what sunk the little red kayak, things get much more difficult. [Booktalk courtesy of Keren Joshi, Wilsonville Public Library]

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. When you read the first sentence of the book, what did you think it was about? Was that different than what you thought when you finished?
  2. Brady seems to have a good relationship with his parents, yet he keeps a lot of his feelings about rescuing Ben and what happened afterwards from them. Why do you think he does this? Why does everyone tell Brady to "move on?"
  3. Why does Brady's family not talk about his sister Amanda? How does that affect what he feels about what happened to Ben?
  4. What are the things that keep Brady from telling the truth when he first realizes what happened to the kayak?
  5. Once Brady has thrown away the power drill, he thinks he can forget what happened. What have you learned about Brady that tells you that he won't be able to forget it?
  6. Why do you think Digger was so angry at the DiAngelos?
  7. If this had happened to you, would you tell the truth? What might keep you from doing so?
  8. Are Brady, J.T. and Digger "good boys?" Why or why not?
  9. Is Brady as guilty at J.T. and Digger? Is J.T. as guilty as Digger? Was their punishment fair? How would you have punished them?
  10. Why do you think the author has made so many references to oxymorons in this book?

If you liked this book, try

  • Baby by Patricia McLachlan
  • Dangling by Lillian Eige
  • Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  • Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson
  • Williwaw by Tom Bodett


Crab cakes, lemon cake.

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