Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anyone But You

Anyone But You
by Laura M. Zeises

About the book:
Critter and Jesse have been close to Seattle since her dad moved in with their mother. Closer still since he took off six years ago and Layla decided to raise Sea as one of her own. It’s a decision none of them regrets, especially not Critter. He’s more than a brother–he’s Seattle’s best friend.
Now it’s vacation, and Seattle and Critter are stoop sitters, at least until summer school starts in July. It beats working like Jesse, or worse, studying like Layla wants them to. It’s too hot for Seattle to be on her skateboard–too hot, even, for Critter to be scamming on girls. But Sea comes up with a plan for them to bluff their way into the ritzy swimming pool the next town over. Big mistake.
Soon Critter’s got his heart set on a Penn Acres princess, while Seattle’s trying hard not to fall for a skater boy on the rebound. For the first time in a long while, they can talk to anyone but each other. Then Seattle’s dad shows up unexpectedly, and the way of life Critter and Seattle have always known begins to change even more. . . .

About this guide:
This guide includes discussion questions and projects intended to extend the use of the novel into classrooms, book clubs, and literature circles. It should promote discussion on the themes of the novel including family, friendship, abandonment, sex, and hope.

What do you think the title means? Who do you think it will refer to? Do you think the ending will be happy or not? What makes you think this?

The cover tells us the novel is written in two voices. What can be the challenges in reading a book with two viewpoints? How can you improve your comprehension with this type of format?

Comprehension check:

  1. Whose idea is it to sneak into the pool at Penn Acres? What’s the plan?
  2. Explain why Critter and Seattle aren’t working.
  3. What does Layla expect them to be doing? Would you?
  4. Describe Seattle and Critter. How are they connected?
  5. What happens between Critter and Sarah?
  6. In the end, what will become of Scott and Seattle’s romance?
  7. How does Jess play the father figure roll in the family?
  8. Who drops in unexpectedly on Seattle’s life? What happens?
  9. Do you think Layla was right to expect Seattle to see him? Why or why not?
  10.   Predict what happens after the close of the novel.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe Critter and Seattle’s relationship. How does it change of the course of the novel? Do you think they’ll be able to remain close with other relationships in their horizons? How?
  2. Predict what Critter and Seattle’s relationship will be like when school starts again. What about next summer? Three years from the close of the book?
  3. How does skateboarding become an important part of the events in the story? What do you learn about Seattle through her love of the sport?
  4. Do you think Layla is an ideal mom for a teenager? Why? Describe her relationship with her kids. What does she expect of them? Do they disappoint her? How?
  5. Seattle and Critter both need summer school but for opposite reasons. Seattle is often bored with school while Critter has difficulty understanding the material. How can schools be more successful with students who fall outside the average?
  6. Why does Critter treat Sarah so differently than Shelli? How can you tell if a guy really has feelings for you or is just using you? Who, of the three (Critter, Sarah or Shelli) behaves the worst in your opinion? Why?
  7. Do you think Layla was right to make Seattle go listen to Frank? Why or why not? How does Frank finally learn Seattle’s feelings toward him?  Do you think Seattle could’ve said those things to his face? Why or why not?
  8. Describe Jess. What is his role in the family? Do you think Critter and Seattle take advantage of him? Why or why not?
  9. Why does Seattle hate Sarah? Why does Critter get so upset about Scott and Seattle’s interlude in the bedroom? How will this summer change everything between them?
  10. Seattle and Critter cut and style each other’s hair. How is this act more intimate than a lot of the sex described in other scenes? What is real intimacy? How does it develop?
  11. Frank feels compelled to tell Seattle the reasons why he left. Does it matter? Would  it matter to you? Is there ever an excuse for abandoning your children?
  12. Why do you think the author chose to write the book in alternating voices? What does it add to the story? Which character did you most enjoy reading? Why?
  13. When Layla talks to Sea about her dad she quotes an Oprah show that says: “Kids have a hold in their soul that’s shaped like their dads.” What does this mean to you? Do you agree with it? Why or why not? Do you think Seattle is a good example of it or not?
  14. In the end, Sea assures Critter that it is only because of Sarah that things have happened between them. Do you agree? What if Sarah and Scott had never shown up that summer?
  15. Have you read the other novels of Lara Zeises? How does this one compare to the others? Which one is your favorite? If not, will you read Contents Under Pressure or Bringing Up the Bones?


 Using only newspapers, teen magazines, and advertisements create a collage that could be used for the end papers of the novel. You can use words or pictures in the design.

Critter has odd taste in music- Rod Stewart. Listen to some vintage Rod Stewart and see if you recognize what Critter sees in his music.
Create a mix of music that you would want to give to a new friend (like Critter does for Sarah). Explain in a short journal why you picked those songs.

Research the skateboarder terms from the novel:



Write a new scene for the book that ended up on the cutting room floor. Be sure the dialogue and events stay true to the characters and would slip seamlessly into the plot of the novel. As you write think about the ways a character is revealed to a reader (dialogue, actions, other character’s response, and non-verbal details). Act the scene out.

Language Arts:
Write an apology letter from Frank to Seattle. Include a response from Seattle.

Create a budget for a single-parent family trying to stay solvent while raising three teenagers. How much is rent or a mortgage in your area for a three bedroom house or apartment? Ask your parents what a typical grocery bill is for your family. What is the bare minimum allowance per month for necessities like clothing, healthcare, and shoes?