Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Savvy by Ingrid Law
About the book:
For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a “savvy”—a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brother creates hurricanes and spark electricity…and now it’s the even of Mibs’s big day. As if waiting weren’t hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs’s birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman’s bus…only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up—and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.

About the author:
Ingrid Law has sold shoes, worked in a bookstore, helped other people get jobs, and assembled boxes for frozen eggplant burgers. She and her twelve-year-old daughter live in Boulder, Colorado, in a lovely old mobile home that they like to believe is a cross between a spaceship and a shoe box. They enjoy writing on its walls and painting on its ceiling, and have two harps, a flute, and a ukulele, as well as a fondness for muffins.
Author interview:
  1. What inspired SAVVY?
Watching my own twelve-year-old daughter, I am constantly reminded of the challenges young people face—the struggle for identity, the enormous physical and emotional changes, the often conflicting voices of parents, friends, teachers, and media. While these challenges may not manifest themselves as hurricanes and electrical sparks in real life, I think they can feel just as powerful and out of control to the young person navigating them.

  1. What do you think your savvy would be (although we’re sure it’s writing brilliantly)?

If I could choose, I think I would like to fly or breathe underwater. When I was a kid, I was convinced that I could see air—see its movements and patterns through a room—but everyone insisted that it was impossible. I’ve always wondered how many things are impossible only because we are told they are.

If you could have one extraordinary power (like, say, controlling the weather or speaking with animals) what would you choose? Why? Do you think there would be any negative consequences to being so remarkably different from your peers? How do people treat others who are different?

Discussion Guide:
  1. Describe Mibs and her unique family. Would you want to be part of the Beaumont clan or not? Why?
  2. Mibs wishes, at least temporarily, that her savvy could “give me the muscle to turn nasty girls into slimy green frogs or to glue their mouths shut tight with a nod of my head.” (p. 17)  Have you ever felt this way? Do you think bullying is an experience most kids face at some time or another? What advice would you give Mibs about dealing with Ashley and Emma or other bullies?
  3. The Beaumonts have to keep a pretty big secret about their lives. How difficult would be for you? Do you think everyone has a secret? Who would you trust with yours?
  4. Rosemary Meeks arrives to set the Beaumont house in order. Why? Who would arrive to take of your family in an emergency? Would you want Rosemary and her kids to land in your space or not?
  5. Describe Mibs relationship with her parents and siblings. How is it complicated by their savvy’s? Do you think the inheritance of a savvy is a curse or a blessing? Why? What have you inherited from your family?
  6. Explain how Mibs ends up on a bible delivery bus with Bobbi, Will, Fish, and Samson. Where do they hope to arrive? How do things go awry? Which scene in their wacky adventure is your favorite?
  7. Slowly Mibs discovers the way her savvy works. How does she figure it out? Why is it not exactly what she hoped for? What would be the most difficult aspect of having this savvy?  In the last year what have you, like Mibs, discovered about yourself?
  8. Of all the savvy’s described in the novel which would you choose for yourself if you could? Why? Do you think Momma Beaumont would think you were in possession of an unrecognized savvy or not?  Do you think everyone has a special talent? Are people born with talent or do people create them?
  9. How does Lill Kiteley end up on the bus? What would you say is her savvy? What does she do for everyone but for Lester in particular?
  10. How does Mibs’s relationship with Will and Bobbi change over the course of the adventure? Who do you think changes the most in the story? Why? How do authors show change in characters?
  11.  Fish and Rocket have a terrible time scumbling their savvy’s. How does this cause a lot of ruckus for the Beaumont clan and others who know them? What do you have a difficult time controlling in your own personality? Is it important to tone down parts of yourself so that you fit in better or is it more important to be yourself completely?
  12. Momma warned Mibs that, “You can’t get rid of part of what makes you you and be happy.” (p. 186) What is that for you?
  13.  While Lester and Lill aren’t exactly Prince Charming and Cinderella they do have a romantic story between them. How do they bring out the best in each other? Do you believe that there is someone out there for everyone or not?
  14.  When Bobbi talks to Mibs about Will’s obvious feelings for her she realizes that it “made me feel too young and too old at the same time.” (p. 223) Have you ever felt this way before? Do you think being a teenager is feeling conflicted like this or not? How does Mibs deal with these feelings? How do you?
  15.  After listening to so many voices in her head throughout the novel what does Mibs discover about the voices we all listen to? What voices stalk your own confidence? How can you drown out the voices that don’t matter?
  16. How does Mibs rescue Samson but not her father? How is Mibs still able to communicate with her dear Poppa in the ways that matter most? What are the best days like for the Beaumont’s at the end of the novel? What are the best days like for you?


 Savvy is peppered with a whole cast of quirky characters whose odd adventures somehow mimic our own struggles. Fill out the following chart to make connections and explore relationships in this fantastic novel.

Conflict or problem
Mibs Beaumont

Rocket Beaumont

Fish Beaumont

Momma Beaumont

Poppa Beaumont

Grandpa Bomba

Will Meeks

Bobbi Meeks

Lester Swan

Lill Kiteley

Rosemary Meeks

Language Arts:
Read the original tall tale that Ingrid Law wrote that was the seed of inspiration for the rest of the novel (available online). Discuss the story of Eva Mae El Dorado Two Birds Ransom. How does her story relate to Mibs? What elements are usually included in a tall tale? How are they incorporated into this story?  How are tall tales uniquely American? What aspects of the tall tale are incorporated into the novel too?  Now create a character sketch of your own for a tall tale. Ask yourself these questions as you develop your sketch: What larger-than-life qualities does your character have? What challenges and conflicts will your character face? How is the setting important to your story?

Inspired by Ingrid Law’s wildly imaginative yet down-home descriptions (“She smelled like Lysol and butterscotch and had her own set of matching right and wrongs—like suitcases she made other people carry.” p.17 ) write a description of a character who could join the cast of Savvy. Or, write a description of Samson or Gypsy as they reach the tumultuous age of thirteen! Try to use one real word in a unique descriptive way like the author used the words savvy and scumble.

Create a playlist for the movie soundtrack of the book. In a brief journal explain why you picked these songs. Or, choose a song that you think best represents five characters from the novel. Again, explain your choices.
Create a piece of art inspired by the novel. It can be a drawing, painting, sculpture, or collage but it should represent your favorite scene. Explain your piece in a brief artist’s statement explaining why you chose your palette, medium and figures in the piece.