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Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!
- Consider that "Ji-li" means "lucky and beautiful" in Chinese. Do you think Ji-li was lucky?
- Do Ji-li's feelings and opinions about the Community Party and Chairman Mao Ze-dong change over the course of the story? How?
- Why did some of her fellow students so quickly embrace the idea of criticizing their teachers?
- Why did the critical statements (da-zi-bao) upset Ji-li so much?
- How did family relationships change as a result of the Cultural Revolution? Consider the passage when Ji-li joins a group of students to place a da-zi-bao on her Aunt's house. Consider the passage when Ji-li witnesses her cousin Shan-shan walk right past his mother who has fallen in the street.
- Name some examples of the "Four Olds." If the Cultural Revolution were to happen in the U.S. today, what among your family's possessions would be considered "Four Old?"
- How would you feel if someone wanted to search your home?
- Do you think that Ji-li should have dropped her family name? Do you think she should have denounced her father in the "struggle?" What would you have done?
- Why didn't Ji-li tell the searchers where she had hidden the letter?
- In what ways did Ji-li's relationships with her friends change as they learned about her family's class status? (An Yi, Du Hai, Chang Hong, Teacher Gu, Song Po-po, and Bai Shan)
Create a political poster (da-zi-bao) that reflects positive statements about the library. For example, "Great Books to Read" or "Summer Reading s Fun!"
Rice candy - have kids enjoy a traditional Chinese snack that allows you to eat the paper wrapper!
Portions of this discussion guide are credited to the HarperCollins Teacher's Guide. This discussion guide was created by Sara Behrman, Book Group Assistant.
Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.