Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tupelo Rides the Rails

Tupelo Rides the Rails
by Melissa Sweet
About the book:
“Everyone belongs somewhere,”
she said to Mr. Bones.
“We’ll find a place.”
She picked him up
and trotted off.
So begins the brave journey of a small dog named Tupelo. Together with her sock toy, Mr. Bones, she searches for the right place: Will it be with a bevy of birds or aden of rabbits? Or perhaps roaming with a pack called the BONEHEADS? Maybe the stars will guide her? With brilliant mixed-media illustrations, Melissa Sweet celebrates all dog heroes, past and present, and shows how home is sometimes found in the most unexpected places.

About the author/illustrator:
After reading Chet Raymo’s 365 Starrry Nights, Melissa Sweet became intrigued with Sirius, the Dog Star. After seeing the movie, The Station Agent, she became intrigued with trains. The next day, driving along with her dog, who is a shelter dog, she became intrigued with the idea of a train carrying dogs to their new home, like a traveling shelter. “It was somehow combining these things: stars, dogs, and trains (and all three I feel passionate about),” she writes, “ and the notion of a journey… that Tupelo came.” The illustrator of many fine children’s books, Melissa Sweet is 357 dog years old. She fervently believes that dogs are “benevolent, exalted, earnest, and doggedly sublime.” She lives in Rockport, Maine, with her family—and sublime dog Rufus and exalted Sheltie Nellie, who was recently rescued from a Louisiana shelter (and looks just like Lassie).

Who do you think Tupelo is? What are rails? Have you ever ridden on rails? What do you think is his story? What does Tupelo want?

Questions to consider:
  1. What is Tupelo’s big problem? How does she decide to deal with it?
  2. Where was the “galaxy of sound and places to investigate?” Where is your favorite place to investigate?
  3. What advice does Tupelo get from the toad? What is your favorite, most intoxicating smell to follow?
  4. Who are the BONEHEADS? What do they do to make a wish?
  5. What is the story of Sirius and Orion?
  6. Who is Mr. Bones? Do you have some special toy you would never give up either?
  7. How does Garbage Pail Tex help the boneheads? What do you think is Tupelo’s favorite part of riding the rails? What would be yours?
  8. Describe what happened to the Boneheads once they reached Hoboken, their destination. What about Tupelo?
  9. Tupelo decided to be brave and make a wish. When have you decided to be brave? What is your wish? In the end, what happens to Tupelo?
  10.  Which illustration is your favorite? Why? Do you like the figures, the perspective or the colors most?

Language arts:
Write a letter to your pet (or dream pet) about the life you promise to give them. Think about all a pet’s needs and some of their wishes, too. Sign your letter of promise and have it notarized by a parent (and perhaps stamped by your pet’s paw!)
Study the timeline at the beginning of the book. Now create a timeline of your own life being sure to put in important historical events.
Sing the ballad that Garbage Pail Tex sang to the Boneheads, of course!
Inspired by Melissa Sweet’s art create a portrait of your pet (or again, dream pet). Sketch your pet first and then add color with paint or markers. Also, take a photograph of your pet so you have it in case he gets lost!
Locate Sirius, the dog star in the night sky. Research upcoming galactic events that you may be able to witness from your location.