Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Paper Towns

Paper Towns
By John Green
Discussion guide:
  1. When Margo and Quentin are nine they make a horrible discovery… “As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward.” (p.9) Is this a good representation of their personalities? How does this event weave through the rest of the story?  Who are you more like—Quentin or Margo?
  2. It’s senior year and Quentin still hangs on every word he manages to hear of Margo and watches her whenever possible as she rules the hallways of Winter Park High. Have you ever suffered from this type of crush? How does he see Margo at the beginning of the novel? How does it change by the end? What is the cure for the common crush?
  3. Describe Q’s best friends. Where do they fit into the caste of WPHS? Compare this high school to your own. List five universal truths about life in high school. If you had to choose one of these characters as your best friend who would you pick? Why?
  4. Compare Q’s relationship with his therapist parents to Margo’s relationship with hers. Are Margo’s parents to blame? Are parents always to blame? How do they respond to her absence? Would you go to such great lengths, like Quentin, to find someone?
  5. Would you have agreed to be Margo’s driver on the night of revenge? Did Margo manipulate Quentin into participating or not? How did that night change Q? How does it change them both?
  6. What is Margo’s plan for excellent revenge without felonies? Who gets what they deserve? Do you think Lacey deserved to be included or not? Is subtle undermining as vicious as obvious distaste or even worse? Plan your own perfectly legal and responsible night of justice. How does Quentin hope that one night will change everything for him? Is that even possible in high school?
  7. How did Q become a person who “stemmed the tide of lame?” How can you? Is lame inherent in high school? Is it also available in college and adult life? Did Margo really give Q the tools or did he have them anyway?
  8. What clues does Margo leave for Quentin? Do you think she wants to be found or not? What connections does he try to make? How does he learn about the real Margo in his quest to find her? Who would understand the clues left about you?
  9. Why does Quentin begin to believe that Margo could’ve committed suicide? What clues make this seem like the most possible alternative? Why does the detective believe she is a balloon person instead? Do you agree with his analogy? Do you know any balloons?
  10.  Discuss the title of the novel. What does it mean? Does it mean something different to Margo? Do you think everyone is made of paper living in a paper town?
  11. Ben is obsessed with prom and Radar (when not updating omnictionary) is looking forward to the event as well. Why do you think Q is unwilling to participate? Is it a ridiculous tradition or an important right of passage? Can it ever live up to fantasies or expectations?  Who are you most like concerning prom- Lacey and Ben, Radar or Q? Why? Describe the prom with this group of friends. Who do you think has the best time?
  12. Q reads “Leaves of Grass,” “to understand Margo, not to try to understand Whitman.” (p.165) How is this exactly what the poet might’ve have aspired to? How does reading this book change Quentin? What one book must someone read to best understand you? What clues does Margo leave in the book?
  13. Did Margo intend to make the last weeks of high school be overshadowed by her disappearance or not? Does it matter? How is Margo both a window and a mirror to this group of friends? With whose Margo do you most agree?
  14. Quentin struggles, at times, with his friendship with Ben. Why? Will Ben actually “jump at his first opportunity to join the fraternity of vapid assholes?” (p. 196) Would most everyone? How does Q learn to accept Ben for who he is? Who teaches him this? Predict which friendships will still be in tact five years later.
  15. “And so I could not imagine her as a person who could feel fear, who could feel isolated in a roomful of people, who could be shy about her record collection because it was too personal to share.” (p.205) Who do you see as not quite real? How does Q come to finally see Margo for who she really is, just a girl?
  16.  The end of high school is marked by a swirling sadness and happiness for Q. Is this true for everyone? Are things that have an ending always sweeter or better somehow? Why? How was “the town paper but the memories were not?”
  17. Compare Margo’s departure with Q and his friends. Have you ever felt how hard it was to leave until you actually did so? Do you think Quentin is capable of leaving and leaving “tramping a perpetual journey” or not? Are you?
  18.  Describe the road trip to find Margo. Do you think the author is trying to mirror this adventure to the one with Margo? How are they similar? Different? What are the most important events along the way? Plan a road trip with your own best friends for 24 hours. How would it be different with a deadline or rendezvous? Is it better to be spontaneous or planned?
  19.  The novel is filled with hilarious one-liners and stories that the friends trade and try to outdo. (“O God of Vehicular Justice, why dost thou mock me? Minivan you albatross around my neck! You mark of Cain! You wretched beast of high ceilings and few horsepower!” p. 239) What line is your favorite? Do your friends have a similar banter? Find a quote that best represents each character. Which scene is your favorite? Why?
  20.  In the end, what happens between Margo and Quentin? How has the experience changed both of them? Do you think Q should walk away? How do the others react to Margo and she to them?

Create a playlist that should be listened to as you read the novel or for the soundtrack of the movie version.
Read “Leaves of Grass” and find lines that you would highlight green as clues into understanding you.
Create a trailer for the book. Use actors or voice-overs. Find real locations or create your own. Post to youtube.
Write your own two basic rules for kissing. Defend your opinion publicly.
Radar says, “Coltrane’s playing is literally the most convincing proof of God’s existence I’ve ever come across.” (p.115) What music would be this important to you?
Plan a road trip with your best friends. Choose 1. A destination 2. A theme song (“Blister in the Sun,” perhaps?) 3. A name for your vessel 4. A list of necessary provisions (and an accounting of what you would have if you loaded into a minivan right. now.)
Write an entry for Omnictionary about one of the major events or characters in the book.

Nerdfighter book club (you know who you are!):
  1. Which character would most likely be a nerdfighter? Defend your answer.
  2. Rate the level of worldsuck for Quentin chapter by chapter.
  3. Which scene is inspired by John, Tobin and Sean’s urban exploration?
  4. Which title of John Green’s books is best “in your pants?”
  5. Do you think the Spiegelman’s belong in the “evil baby orphanage?” What about Chuck Parson?
  6. Which character, scene, and line are most made of awesome? Post in the forum.
  7. Make a list of what each character might put “on their heads.”
  8. Choreograph a “happy dance” for your favorite Paper Towns character, or create a new scavenger hunt based off the book.
  9. What other connections do you see between nerdfighters and the book? Do you think John was leaving clues and winks like Margo or it is merely coincidence?
  10. Create a vlog about the book and upload to +/or youtube.

This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a nerdfighter, reading specialist, and author of The Floating Circus.