Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Mother Daughter Book Club

The Mother Daughter Book Club
By Heather Vogel Frederick

About the book:
Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma’s already read every book in existence and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month. But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do? Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship.

About the author:
When Heather Vogel Frederick was in the sixth grade, she used to ride her bike past Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord, Massachusetts, and dream of becoming a writer. Today the award-winning author of the Patience Goodspeed books and the Spy Mice series lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, their two teenage sons, the family’s beloved Shetland sheepdog, and three fun-loving chickens.

Author Interview:
  1. What kind of research did you do to write the novel?
 To research this particular book I traveled from my home in Oregon back to Concord, Massachusetts, where I grew up.  One of my sisters lives in Boston, and I took her along with me.  We had a lot of fun poking around our old stomping grounds, and we took a walking tour of a lot of the historical sites so I could describe them accurately.  Places like Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the Old North Bridge, and the library.  Of course we went to Louisa May Alcott’s home and took the tour there!  Other than that actual “location” research, though, I mostly just spent time thinking back to what it was like when I was in the 6th grade, and some of the scrapes my sisters and I got into.

  1. Describe your life in Concord as a kid. Do you think it has influenced you as a writer?
Living in Concord was amazing.  First of all, it’s a town steeped in history, and I’ve always really loved history.  But for me, growing up, it had the added plus of being a town steeped in literary history.  For some reason, a lot of writers ended up in Concord in the 19th century.  Besides Louisa May Alcott there was Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even Herman Melville for a while!  It was easy to wander around and imagine being a writer someday with all of those amazing writers to look up to.  Concord was – and still is – an exceptionally beautiful town, with wide streets lined with lovely old Colonial houses, and fields and meadows and rivers to explore.  I spent a lot of time riding my bike around when I was a kid, and I also loved to explore the woods behind our house.  I had a favorite tree down the road near the Old North Bridge where I’d go and climb up with a book and read (and sometimes spy on the tourists!).  My dad and I used to bike to Kimball Farm (it really exists, for those of you who’ve read the book) for ice cream.  And Concord also has two fabulous swimming holes – Walden Pond, of course, but most people in town actually went swimming in White Pond, or “White’s” as we referred to it.  Patriot’s Day was always a big deal in our family, and just like in “The Mother-Daughter Book Club,” my dad would wake my sisters and me up at 4 in the morning so we could walk over to watch the battle reenactment and then attend the pancake breakfast.  Our house was on the parade route, and family and friends would gather in our front yard to watch.  I spent a lot of time at the library, and there was (and is) a wonderful bookstore in town where I spent most of my allowance – whatever was left, that is, after my sisters and I visited the penny candy store (sadly no longer in existence).  Did all of this influence me as a writer?  Absolutely.  We write about the landscapes and places we hold close in our hearts, and Concord is definitely one of those places!

  1. What’s  your creative process like- do you outline, for example, or just dive right in?
My process for the most part is to sit down every morning in my comfortable armchair and tell myself a story.  I never used to outline at all, but that’s changed a bit over the years.  For this book, the structure I came up with (four alternating voices, four seasons, 16 chapters in all) meant that I had to do a little more in the way of plotting ahead of time than I usually do.  But I still find that once the story gets underway, it takes you in different directions than you could have envisioned at the outset.  That’s the fun of writing – what emerges is often a surprise!  I tend to write in the mornings, when I’m freshest, and afternoons are for email and deskwork and reading.  (Plus taking care of my family and pets.)  Mostly I work in my office at home, but once in a while for a change of scene I’ll take my laptop to a nearby coffee shop, or sometimes out in the back yard.  We have chickens, though, and they’re curious birds, so when I do that I often end up with a chicken on my lap, trying to “help” me write!

  1. What can your fans (like me!) look forward to next?
Right now, I’m working on a sequel to “The Mother-Daughter Book Club.”  With any luck, it will be on bookstore shelves next spring.

Share your experiences of book club. Have you ever been in one that met outside of school? What books did you read? Did drama outside the book ever interfere with the club itself? Why do you think book clubs exist?

Discussion Guide:
1.       Why is Emma having such a difficult time in school? What do you think she should do about it?
2.       Who does Emma like? Who does she dislike? Why?
3.       What surprise does her mother have in store? How would you feel about being signed up for a book club without your input?
1.       Why does Megan think her mom is disappointed in her? Is she really?
2.       When you read Megan’s first chapter do you think you would want to be friends with her or not? Why?
3.       What would Megan rather be doing? Would you want to join a book club? Why or why not?
1.       Why does Cassidy’s sister yell at her?
2.       Why is Cassidy having a more difficult time with the loss of her father than her sister?
3.       What does Cassidy plan for the fabulous four at the Halloween party?
1.       Why do you think Jess and Emma are such good friends?
2.       How would you feel if your mom left to pursue a career in film, television, or music? Is it better or worse than leaving for any other reason?
3.       What causes the rift in the book club? Predict what you think will happen because of it.

1.       How do Megan and Cassidy get along? Why? Do you think it will always be that way?
2.       How do things get intense once more at the book club?
3.       Would you want to attend and dress up for the Christmas party? Why?
1.       Describe the Little Women Christmas party. What do you think they’ll remember about it?
2.       What does Mrs. Delaney send in her absence? How would you feel in Jess’s place?
3.       What makes Emma hopeful that she and Megan might renew their friendship? Does it work?
1.       How would you feel if your Mom or Dad couldn’t come to your most important event? Would you be able to forgive them?
2.       Do you think Becca will grow up to be a battleaxe just like her own mother, Mrs. Chadwick? What makes you think this?
3.       Explain what happens during the performance. How would you feel?
1.       Does Megan feel remorse for the goat incident or not? How has she been influenced by the other girls? Is it an excuse for her behavior?
2.       Do you think this argument was necessary for the club to continue? What things are said that needed to be said?
3.       How must Megan make it up to Jess? Is this enough?


1.       What happens at the championship match to Cassidy?
2.       How does her mother handle her worst fear?
3.       What small detail reveals how the mother daughter book club has changed?

1.       Why is Patriot’s Day such a big deal in Concord? Do you have any local events which are very important to your community? Describe it.
2.       Do you think reenactments are important for understanding history? Would you participate in one?
3.       What happens between the fabulous four and the mother daughter book club?

1.       How does Megan save Emma’s outfit?
2.       Do you think fashion is frivolous or necessary? Why?
3.       Why does Megan think,  “Nobody quite got what they wanted.” (p. 181)
1.       What would be most difficult about having a parent gone?
2.       How does Jess’s dad embarrass her? Do all parents embarrass their children?
3.       How does the mother daughter book club react to his ideas? Are they true friends now, or not?

1.       How does she handle Becca Chadwick on the bus? What inspires her? Has a book ever helped you see things in a new light?
2.       Describe Emma’s birthday party. What’s the best gift?
3.       What should be included in a birthday party for you? What about your best friend?
1.       What happens when they run into Becca on the train?
2.       Describe the events at FLASH. How would you feel in Megan’s shoes?
3.       What surprise does Clementine  share with the group?
1.       How difficult would it be to  have a supermodel for a mom?
2.       Would you be interested in having a make-over like the ones described in this chapter? Could you trust the designers or not?
3.       Why is Jess so disappointed in the trip?
1.       What do they see at Orchard House with new eyes?
2.       How has the reading of Little Women changed each of them?
3.       What is the happy ending to the story?


Design a bedroom, outfit, or scene for the movie adaptation of the mother daughter book club for one of the characters. You can use any materials you like to bring it to life.

Choose the playlist for the movie soundtrack of the book. Or, choose a soundtrack for one of the characters and explain your choices.

Create apple slump or one of the other yummy cookies or goodies mentioned in the story. Share with friends or book club members.

Just for fun:
Host a celebration like one in the story- either a time period party (like the Christmas party) or a birthday party inspired by the honored guest.

Fill out the following character chart as you read the novel:

Relationship with her mom:
In the end: