I read this book for the first time when I was in sixth grade. I remember loving the scene with Winnie sitting in the row boat with Angus Tuck as he tried to explain to her why he wishes he could get back on the wheel of life, even if it means his eventual death.
Everything's a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That's the way it's suppose to be. That's the way it is. If we didn't move it out ourself, it would stay here forever, trying to get loose, but stuck. That's what us Tucks are, Winnie.
I've shared this book with classes as a read aloud for many years, but this was the first year I decided to read it with a reading group. For read aloud, it prompted great discussion and debate amongst the class about immortality and what we wanted Winnie to do. I think I really preferred this book as a reading group book because I got to see how my students changed their opinions over time as they read. When you hear 20 something opinions, it's very hard to keep individual opinions straight, but when you are reading with just 5 students, it's much easier to remember how each student feels and how their opinions change.
Prereading homeworkAs a reading group book, it also gives students the space to mull over Winnie's feelings for Jesse. For many of my students, especially those that read far below their grade level, it's the first time they've encountered a hint of romance in their books!
The book is so rich and so beautifully written that the movie version is just such a disappointment. I let my students watch it, although there is a little bit of kissing in it, but it's just not good movie! It doesn't do the story justice and there are extra parts added in for no good reason.
Glencoe offers a great (and FREE!) study guide for the book. Click here for the pdf.
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