Monday, January 3, 2011

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

A carnival sideshow or a new friend?

In Toby's small Texas town, Antler, nothing exciting ever happens and summers usually consist of he and Cal on the roof of the bowling alley eating candy and talking. The most exciting thing that happens each summer is the ladybug waltz on Cal's family's farm. But this summer, his mom leaves to go to Tennessee to become a famous singer and Cal's older brother is in Vietnam. Just when it seems the summer couldn't get any worse, Zachary Beaver shows up in a trailer and tickets are being sold to see the fattest boy in the world. Toby and Cal try to see what is behind the front Zachary puts up to discover the real Zachary Beaver. Kimberly Willis Holt gives us a boy we aren't sure whether to love or hate in When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

Teachers... here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel.

Web Resources:
  • Teacher's Guide: Awesome guide with activity ideas as well as journal prompts and other ideas to go along with this novel.
  • Literature Circle: This site offers discussion questions and enrichment activities to go along with this novel.

Vocabulary: Some words that may need to be pretaught: biddy, revival, cotton gin, destiny, emphysema, loan shark, sideshow, minor, transistor radio, stingy, verdict, baptism, foster home, juvenille home, pathological liar, hermit, reverend, shriners, dinghy, concordance, ordinance

Before Reading: Have you ever been to a carnival or seen a sideshow? What was it like? Did you see anything unusual? What do you think the sideshow in this story will be like?

During Reading: Discuss after the first time Toby and Cal bring food to Zachary. Do you think Toby and Cal will become friends with Zachary? Predict what you think will happen. Think/Pair/Share.

After Reading/Writing: Pretend you are either Toby and Cal and write a letter to Zachary telling him about their life after he left. How is school going? Did Toby's mom come home? etc. Or, pretend you are Zachary and write to Toby and Cal telling them how life was for him after he left. Is he still touring as the fattest boy in the world? Are there any other acts in the show? etc.

There is a movie version of this book, I have not seen it (clearly I need to catch up on my movie viewing) but in case you want to check it out...

Holt, K. W. (1999). When Zachary Beaver came to town . New York: Holt.
National Book Award Winner

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

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