Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ellie McDoodle
Have Pen, Will Travel
Wriiten and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw
May 2007
ISBN-10: 1-58234-745-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-58234-745-5
176 pages

About the book:
Ellie McDougal (better known to her friends as McDoodle) is being held prisoner…by her aunt, uncle, three annoying cousins, and baby brother, Ben-Ben. Sentenced to a camping trip with them while her parents are out of town, Ellie is absolutely, positively determined to hate every single minute of it. Thank goodness she at least has her sketch journal in which to record all the excruciating (and, ahem, funny) details. But how will Ellie keep her journal from falling into Er-ick the Enemy’s hands? And what will happen if- inconceivable!- she actually starts having fun? Part graphic novel, part confessional journal, part wilderness survival guide, Ellie’s story is a treat for young campers, vacationers, or any kid looking to curl up with a great summer read.

Author interview:
1.       Admit it- you were just like Ellie as a girl, weren’t you?
2.       What was your favorite part of creating this story?
3.       What advice do you have for young people wanting to become artists or authors?

Pre-reading Discussion:
Have you ever had to spend several days with family or friends when your parents were out of town? What was it like to suddenly be dropped inside another family? What did you learn about them and yourself?

Discussion questions:
  1. How does Ellie end up camping with her cousins? In the beginning how do they get along?
  2. Ellie likes to describe people in both pictures and words. Which sketch of a person is your favorite? Why? Create one inspired by Ellie.
  3. Ellie calls her cousins obstinate, obnoxious, and obstreperous (p.33) What does she mean by this? Use three words to describe someone you know. Explain why you chose those words.
  4. Not only is Ellie creative on paper but she’s also fabulous at sharing fun games with her cousins. What are the games that they play? What are your favorite games to play on rainy days or on long car rides? Try one of the games described in the book and then share it with a friend or family member.
  5. What are Ellie’s tips for surviving camp with family you can’t stand? What tips do you have for surviving the following activities:  a boring sermon at church, a substitute teacher who hates kids, a rained out picnic, a sleepover with someone who is not any fun?
  6. What happens at frog pond? Why is this an important event between Ellie and Er-ick? Describe the biggest accident you’ve ever had. 
  7. Write your own version of “I Am a Nice Girl” (p. 124) Then compare yourself to Ellie in a venn diagram.
  8. How do people react who read Ellie’s private book? Should Er-ick and Aunt Ug have read it or not? Do you think kids should have total privacy or not?
  9. Explain what happened the last night at camp. How would your parents react to this situation? What are you supposed to do if you find yourself lost in the woods/
  10. How does Elllie change from the beginning of the story to the end? Do main characters always change? Why or why not?
Language Arts/ Art:
Keep a sketchbook journal for one week. You do not actually have to share the contents of it (though it should be at least ten pages long) but you will have to show that the pages are written and drawn on in your own handwriting. Teacher will grade it by walking around and checking to see that the work is complete.

Sing to the tune “take me out to the ball game”
Take me out to go camping
Take me out of my world
Buy me a sketchbook
and mosquito spray
I’ll  go exploring  the  woods all day
Cause its sketch, sketch, sketch
The whole family
And all the animals too
For it’s one, three, seven days too long
To be stuck with you!

Create a pamphlet, poster, PowerPoint presentation on one of the following topics from the book:
Animal tracking
Survival skills for kids
Bacteria in water
Lifecycle of frogs
Low impact camping
Edible wild plants and insects
Trout hatchery
Bald eagles
Fire safety

Camping budget-
Plan a camping trip to a dream destination. Figure out how much money you’ll need for travel, camping equipment, food, and entertainment. Draw or find pictures to represent each part and add up all your totals. Don’t forget to add on five percent for taxes.