Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jackson Friends Series

Jackson Friends Book
Teacher’s Guide

Pa Lia’s First Day

What do you think this book will be about? What makes you think so? Have you ever changed schools? What kinds of things do you worry about on a first day?

Discussion Questions:
  1. Why did Tou Ger leave Pa Lia alone? How would you feel if this were you? Do you ever get annoyed with a sibling?
  2. Who helped Pa Lia find her classroom? How else does the girl help her?
  3. Describe Howie. How do things begin between Howie and Pa Lia? Why?
  4. How did Pa Lia get her new friends in trouble? What would you have done? Why does Howie call Pa Lia brave? Do you agree with her?
  5. What do you think happens the next morning at school?


Pa Lia was nervous about her first day. “Her mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton…”
“Her stomach felt like it was filled with a thousand fluttering butterflies…”

These are called similes when you make a comparison between things using the words like or as. Create other similes using these starters..

Pa Lia was so scared that her heart felt like…
Her hands felt like…
When Pa Lia got in trouble her ears were like…
Embarassed, Pa Lia’s cheeks felt like….

Can you think of more? What about similes to go with these emotions: love, anger, fear, sadness, hope?

Zero Grandparents

What could the title mean? Who do you think this story will be about? Why? What do you like to do with your grandparents? Do any of you not get to see your grandparents?

Discussion Questions:
  1. Why is Calliope so upset about Grandparents Day? What would you do if you were in her situation?
  2. Compare Calliope to her grandmother Flory Sophia. How are they alike? How are they different?
  3. Pa Lia’s grandmother, Ka Ghee, says that Calliope is a very good granddaughter. Why? How can you be a terrific grandkid even if your grandparents are gone or don’t live nearby?
  4. Describe Stinky Stern. Why do you think he acts the way he does?
  5. What do you know about your grandparents that you could share?


Interview one of your grandparents or a special older friend (but get permission from your guardian first) about what they were like when they were your age. What did they do for fun? What was school like? What was their favorite meal? Subject? Book? What other question could you ask? Then write a short biography of your grandparent and either draw or put a photograph on your report. Share your work with the class.

The Talent Show

What is a talent show? Have you ever been to one? What are examples of talent that people share? What talents do you have? Would you ever like to be on stage? Why?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Howie imagines herself as a star. Do you ever like to do this? Why do some kids like to be on stage and others don’t?
  2. What talents do the kids at Jackson Magnet share? Which would be your favorite to see?
  3. Why do you think Howie had no voice? Have you ever felt this scared?
  4. Discuss why Grandma Gardenia had not said one word about the talent show after bringing Howie home.
  5. What did Howie do when she got nervous again on stage? Would this work for you? What other things could she have done?


Here are symbols from various cultures that are supposed to bring good luck.

Ox, camel: a beast of burden is considered good luck in many cultures.

The four leaf clover and horseshoe are Norwegian signs of luck.

Dragons are symbols of good fortune in many Asian cultures.

Pigs are considered by many people as a sign of wealth and good luck.

Sheep are a sign of luck in traditional Chinese culture.

Create your own good luck charm! You can use clay, paper, even aluminum foil to create a sculpture that you could wear or just carry in your pocket. You can use the symbols listed above but maybe you know other ones from your own culture to use instead.

Stinky Stern Forever

What does forever mean? What things are forever?
What kind of kid do you think a boy named Stinky Stern is like? Do you think that’s his real name? Why?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why was Pa Lia mad at Stinky Stern? What did he try to do? What does it mean to be an enemy?
  2. What happened to Stinky Stern? Do you think the accident was more difficult for Pa Lia to face because she saw it happen?
  3. What does Pa Lia do in class as the kids share stories about him? Why does she do this?
  4. What stories do the kids share about Stinky? Why does Mrs. Fennessey take the time to do this?
  5. What can we learn from the story of Stinky Stern Forever?


Make snowflakes like Mrs. Fennessey’s class. Add a piece of colored paper to the middle of the snowflake (like Pa Lia did) and then write a  safety tip that kids should be sure to follow.

Jackson Friends Projects:

Language Arts:

Create characters for your own series inspired by Jackson Friends. Check out the back pages of the book for character sketches on Pa Lia, Calliope, Howie and Stinky Stern for ideas. Make a sketch of your character, and fill in the following details about them:
has ________________________.
 loves to ____________________.
is learning __________________.
favorite food is ______________.

Think about what your character might look like, act like, think like and say. How does he or she treat others? What is his family like? Is she outgoing or shy? What is a problem that she’ll need to solve? Are they mess, neat, shy, funny, serious, zany?

Figure out these brain busters from Mrs. Fennessey’s class:

  1. Howie has 14 of Grandma Gardenia’s cookies to share with the class but there are 22 kids in Mrs. Fennessey’s class. How many more cookies does she need?
  2. Pa Lia wants to share a recipe for her favorite noodle dish. She’s copied the recipe 9 times already. How many more times does she need to copy it for each kid to get one? What if Mrs. Fennessey wants a copy too?
  3. Calliope has 100 pieces of candy from Halloween. If she gives each kid in room 201 how many will she have left? What if she gives each kid two?
  4. Stinky actually wants to share! He has brought in two bags of candy. Each one has 14 pieces in it. After he gives each student a piece how many will he have left?

Create a sketch from your own classroom inspired by the illustrations of Michelle Edwards. Use bold pen and ink lines, and add repeating detail in the background.


In groups of no more than three act out a scene from one of the Jackson Friends books. You can use the book as a guide, but don’t just read it aloud. Either try to memorize the lines or ad lib based on the story.  Or, write a new scene and share that.


Learn to sing the song “Make New Friends” in a round with your class. Discuss the meaning of the lyrics.

Just for fun!
Jackson Friends Board Game:
In pairs create a Jackson Friends Board Game inspired by the series! Create cards that ask important (or even trivial) questions about the books and then challenge another team to play. You might want to make some spaces special. For example, Pa Lia starts school, move ahead three spaces. Create illustrations around the game board that show scenes from the book, and be sure that you have the books nearby in case you need to check someone’s answer!