Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Plain Janes

The Plain Janes
by Cecil Castelucci
About the book:
When Jane is forced to move from the cool confines of Metro City to suburbia, she thinks her life is over. But there in the lunch room at the reject table, she finds her tribe—three other girls named Jane. It’s up to Main Jane to convince the girls to form a secret club called P.L.A.I.N – People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. But can art really save a group of misfits from the hell that is high school?

About the author:
Cecil grew up in New York City, is French Canadian and makes her home in Los Angeles. She’s the author of three young adult novels, Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool, and Beige. Cecil is also an indie rock musician, an independent filmmaker and playright. During her years at LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, she’d see Keith Haring’s drawings in the subways of New York. She still looks for street art whenever she’s on a walk.
About the artist:
Jim is the artist and co-creator of Street Angel. His comics have also appeared in anthologies including Project: Superior, SPX, Orchid and Meathaus. He grew up near Pittsburgh and hasn’t come up with a good excuse to skip town. He’s disappointed his school didn’t have a girl gang like the Janes or the Dagger Debs.

What does it mean to be a “plain jane?” Have you ever felt plain? Do you think everyone feels insecure and out of place sometimes?

Discussion guide:

1.  What event opens the novel? What odd details bring it to life for Jane?
2. Why do Jane’s parents move her to surburbia? Where does she wish she lived? Where would you live if you could live anywhere? Why?
3. Who is Jane’s tribe? Why does she have difficulty getting them to accept her?
4. What does the letters in PLAIN stand for? Would you be willing to join?
5. How does Jane get each one interested in the project? What will they do?
6. What question does the art ask of the community? What happens to most strip malls?
7. Why is Jane’s mom keeping her on such a short leash? Do you parents keep one on you? What is the right balance for a teenager?
8. Jane’s mother “doesn’t see the beauty in anything anymore, she only sees danger.” Why? Do you know anyone like this? Is it possible to get past it?
9. Describe the projects the Jane’s do in the neighborhood. What type of projects would get your community’s attention?
10. The Janes develop confidence through their projects. What gives you confidence? What destroys it?
11. What threat does the officer give the students at Buzz Aldrin High? Why does he consider the art installations attacks? Would you consider them defacing property or not? Why?
12.  Why does Jane sometimes wish she was the one who was asleep? Do you ever feel like this? How does she act to get past these dark feelings?
13. Why does Jane quote from Ghandi “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win?”  Do you agree?
14. What happened to John Miroslaw?  How does this give Jane hope and finally connect her with Damon?
15. Predict what happened between Jane and Damon. What do you think the P.L.A.I.N.
Jane’s will do next?

Create a scene for the plain Jane’s one year from the closing of the graphic novel. What are they doing now?

Plan your own art installation in your neighborhood. Be sure that no property damage will result.

Find a theme song (or create your own) for the Plain Jane’s. Explain why you chose this piece to represent the secret girl club.

Language Arts:
Write a letter from John Miroslaw after the close of the novel. What does Jane learn about him and his art?  How does he feel about her dedicated letters to him?