Questions to discuss after reading

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1 Summary for pages 1-28 David s sister, Catherine, narrates the story while giving her perspective of her life living with her brother, David, who has autism. She compiles a list of rules for David because he needs to be taught everything. Since she can t have a normal sister/brother relationship with David, she looks forward to one on one time with her mother and the new girl who is moving in next door. While waiting for David at his occupational therapy (OT) appointment, Catherine sketches and gives her sketch to Jason, another OT patient, after he communicates to her that he likes her sketch. Summary for pages Catherine spots the new family next door while sketching on the front porch. David joins her because he s waiting for his dad to return from work promptly at 5:00 so they can go to the video story. Since dad usually runs late from the pharmacy, Catherine tries to distract David from the time, but once 5:00 comes and dad s not home, David has an episode. The new girl appears on her front porch and asks if David is okay. Catherine is embarrassed and reassures her everything is fine. While at OT, Catherine begins to communicate with Jason through his communication cards. She draws a communication card of herself for Jason s book. Catherine offers to sketch more words for Jason s communication book. WEEK OF SEPT. 7: pages 1-49 Chapter 1: Follow the rules. The narrator says that one of her favorite rules is: Sometimes you ve gotta work with what you ve got. Describe a time when this rule applied to your life. The narrator has created several rules for David. Most of these rules are helpful, but some may hold him back. Explain. Chapter 2: Don t run down the clinic hallway. Name one person with whom you enjoy spending quality time. Describe your fondest memory. Why is this time so special to you? Catherine thinks that an invisible cloak would be useful to her in the waiting room. Why? Describe a time when you wished you were invisible.

2 Chapter 3: If it s too loud, cover your ears or ask the other person to be quiet. Describe a time when a laugh hurt your feelings. Catherine s parents altered their lives to better support David. Can you think of any sacrifices your parents have made for you? Chapter 4: Sometimes you ve gotta work with what you ve got. What do you hope for in a best friend? If you were Catherine, what words would you choose for Jason? Why? Summary for pages Catherine decides what pictures to draw on Jason s communication cards when the neighborhood girl, Kristin, spots Catherine through the window and waves. Catherine waves back and sees the neighborhood boy, Ryan, talking to Kristin. The next day, Catherine invites the new neighbors over for lunch, but learns that Kristin is with her dad for the weekend and her mom declines the offer. At David s OT appointment, Catherine sees Jason and gives him the communication cards and explains each one. Catherine volunteers to make more and asks for all of the blank communication cards that he has. WEEK OF SEPT. 14: pages Chapter 5: If you don t have the words you need borrow someone else s. What is your dream for the future, and how do you hope to achieve it? Make a prediction about the type of friendship the neighbor and Catherine will have in the future and explain why you feel that way. Chapter 6: Sometimes things work out, but don t count on it. If you were Catherine, would you be hesitant to invite the new neighbors to your family s barbeque? Explain. Mom and Dad have very different reactions to David and the bee incident. Whose side are you on? Why? Chapter 7: Saying you ll do something means you have to do it unless you have a very good excuse.

3 Jason and Catherine discover they have some things in common. What do you have in common with Jason? At the end of the chapter, Catherine adds a new rule to her collection: Some people think they know who you are, when really they don t. Can you think of anyone in your life who thinks they know you, but really they don t? Summary for pages Catherine continues to make more communication cards for Jason when Kristi comes over to visit her. They get to know each other; however, David continues to interrupt them. Kristi invites Catherine over to her house, and Catherine goes over Kristi s instead of going to OT to visit Jason. At the next OT appointment, Catherine brings her guinea pig, Nutmeg, so Jason can meet him. She gives him the communication cards that she made and realizes in order to communicate with Jason, she needs to make him more cards. Not only listen to your child s responses, but be sure to share your feelings too! You will learn a lot from each other during this quality time together! (Middle schoolers may not say, Thank you, but they DO appreciate a little one- on- one attention each night!) WEEK OF SEPT. 21: pages Chapter 8: If you can only choose one, pick carefully. In this chapter, Kristi said, Even regular little brothers are a pain. If you were Catherine, how would you have felt about this comment? Near the end of the chapter, Catherine makes a choice to watch television with Kristi rather than go to the occupational therapy session with her brother. What would you have done in this same situation? Chapter 9: At someone else s house, you have to follow their rules. Catherine feels she has to watch what she says around Kristi. Have you ever felt this way around family or friends? When Catherine returns home from Kristi s, her happiness deflates like a balloon. How do you think you would have felt at moment? that Chapter 10: If it fits in your mouth, it s food. Do you think Catherine mended her relationship with Jason? Explain. In what ways do you think the new cards will help Jason? Summary for pages

4 When Catherine gets home from OT, Ryan and Kristi are playing basketball in the front yard. David and Catherine talk to them, but then Ryan upsets David with his gum trick. Catherine is frustrated with her situation of being David s sister. At OT, Catherine and David share their own frustrations that they have been experiencing. To give Jason the experience of running, Catherine takes him to the OT parking lot and pushes him in his wheelchair as fast as she can. Jason loves the feeling of running. When she gets home, Catherine asks her dad if they can do something together, but he says maybe next time and Catherine becomes upset and jealous of the time her dad spends with David instead of her. WEEK OF SEPT. 28: pages Chapter 11: Sometimes people laugh when they like you. But sometimes they laugh to hurt you. If you were Kristi, what would you have done when Ryan tricked David with the empty gum wrapper? Ryan said the empty gum wrapper was just a joke. What do you think about this comment? Chapter 12: Open closet doors carefully. Sometimes things fall out. Catherine felt worried about the new words she prepared for Jason. Why might these bad words be good for Jason to have in his communication book? If you had one wish, what would it be? Chapter 13: Sometimes people don t answer because they didn t hear you. Other times it s because they don t want to hear you. Do you think Catherine has a reason to be jealous of her father s tomatoes? Explain. If you could do anything with your mom or dad, what would you do? Summary for pages Kristi calls Catherine, and they decide to go swimming in the pond. Kristi experiences swimming in a pond for the first time. They continue to talk to each other about wishes, and

5 Kristi wishes her parents would get back together. When Kristi asks Catherine what she would wish for, she wants to explain her wish for David to be a normal brother, but changes the subject to avoid the question. Then Ryan appears at the pond, and he and Kristi try to persuade Catherine to bring a date to the upcoming dance so they can all go to the dance together. Summary for pages At OT, Jason shows Catherine his new motorized wheelchair. They decide to go for a walk by the water. During their walk, Catherine sees Kristi, and she hides so Kristi doesn t see her walking with Jason. At the end of their walk, Jason invites Catherine to his birthday party, which is the same day as the dance. The next day, Catherine explains to Kristi that she can t go to the dance because she s going to Jason s birthday party, but agrees to help Kristi make posters for the dance. WEEK OF OCT. 5: pages Chapter 14: No toys in the fish tank. Catherine takes awhile to decide what to wear when she goes swimming with Kristi. Have you ever done anything to try to impress someone you just met? Explain. Have you ever felt like you were pulled in two directions? Explain. Chapter 15: Solving one problem can create another. If you were Catherine, would you have pretended not to see Kristi? Why or why not? Would you go to Jason s birthday party, the dance, neither, or both? Chapter 16: No dancing unless I am alone in my room or it is pitch- black dark. Do you think Catherine s friendship with Jason will last once the school year begins? What about with Kristi? Which friendship(s) do you think will last when they are much older? At the end of the chapter, Catherine assumed Kristi was trying to make David look stupid by dancing with him. Do you think she actually had intentions of making him look stupid? Explain.

6 Summary for pages Before OT, Catherine buys a used guitar from the antique shop. When Jason sees Catherine at OT, he invites her brother, David, to the party. Then, Catherine gives Jason his new communication cards, but he doesn t like the picture for the word together and becomes angry with Catherine. On the day of Jason s party, Catherine is nervous about how David will behave at the party and wonders if Jason will like her gift. When she gets to the party, she shows Jason the together communication card that she fixed, and they both apologize to each other for the misunderstanding. Catherine gives Jason his gift, and he loves his new guitar. After they eat cake, Jason asks Catherine if she would go to the dance with him, but she says that she can t because of her dancing rule. Jason questions the rule and says it is an excuse, and Catherine leaves the party upset. Summary for pages On the ride home from Jason s party, Catherine explains what happened with her and Jason to her mom. The next day, Catherine decides to call Jason and invite him to the dance in hopes that he meets her at the community center where the dance is being held. At the dance, Catherine waits for Jason and wonders if he ll even come. Jason shows up, and Catherine explains her feelings to him, and then she introduces Jason to Kristi and Ryan. When Catherine returns home from the dance, she looks forward to sharing the details of dancing with a boy with her long distance friend, Melissa. After Catherine s experience with Jason, she realizes her relationship with David may not be normal but it is special. WEEK OF OCT. 12: pages Chapter 17: Not everything worth keeping has to be useful. Think about the picture Catherine first drew for the word together. If you were Jason, how would you have felt and how would you have responded? At the end of the chapter, Catherine feels the need to write a rule for herself, but can t think of one. What rule would you write for Catherine to help her make sense of the situation?

7 Chapter 18: Pantless brothers are not my problem. If you were Catherine, would you have turned down Jason s request to go to the dance? Explain. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt embarrassed to do what you knew was right? Explain. Chapter 19: Some people think they know who you are, when really they don t. If you were Catherine, would you have missed Melissa? Why or why not? In this chapter, Catherine snaps at David and yells at her father. Why? Have you ever been in a situation like this? Explain. Chapter 20: Late doesn t mean not coming. Catherine was finally honest with her family. Do you think this will help or hurt her relationship with her family? Explain. At the end of the chapter, Catherine wishes that everyone has the same chances. What do you think she means by this comment? Chapter 21: A real conversation takes two people. Catherine wasn t afraid of what Kristi would think of Jason. Instead, what was she really afraid of? Why? Would you have been afraid of the same thing? Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Some rules are meant to be broken. Explain. Chapter 22: If you need to borrow words, Arnold Lobel wrote some good ones. What does Catherine realize about David? Why does she realize this? If you were Catherine, what would you say you learned this summer?

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