Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Great Gilly Hopkins

One Tough Cookie!
The Great Gilly Hopkins has been in the foster care system for almost as long as she can remember and at this point has resolved to not allow herself to be happy or love anyone who cares for her because the one time she did that, the family moved away, leaving her. Determined to drive her new bible fanatic, overweight foster mother Trotter crazy, Gilly tries all the tricks in the book: stealing, lying and scaring her foster brother W.E. Little does Gilly know, this family actually loves her. Gilly is convinced that her mother Courtney will some day come to her rescue and take her out of foster care. Gilly is smart, really smart, but the things she doesn't understand are those that are right in front of her, like love and the lack thereof. The truth is, W.E., who Gilly calls "retarded" and Mr. Randolph, who is blind, see more than Gilly in these important areas of her life. Katherine Paterson puts us in the mind of Gilly and by the end of the story we are left conflicted and full of love for the smart mouth, tough cookie that is Galadriel Hopkins.

Reading Level: Flesch-Kincaid Index 4.8

Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this book in class... 

Web Resources
  •  Scholastic: This Scholastic site provides a summary, click under resources on the top right to find a discussion guide, vocabulary activity and writing prompt.
  • Literature Unit: This is a link to google books where you will find the first half of a literature unit book for The Great Gilly Hopkins. Although it is not the full book, what is available is extremely helpful!
Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pretaught: conspiratorially, departmentalization, fret, piously, justify, humility, lilt, cajoling, incompetence, delinquent, painstakingly, vigor, peculiar, fanatic, foster, obligation, next of kin, apparition, pervades, laden 
    Before Reading: Make a prediction. On the cover of the last two releases of The Great Gilly Hopkins, Gilly is shown in a tough pose. What kind of character do you think Gilly will be?

    During Reading: Choose one of the questionable decisions Gilly makes. For example: stealing money from Mr. Randolph, stealing money from Trotter, making the card for her teacher, etc. Explain in your own words why Gilly made that decision. What could Gilly have done differently to produce the outcome she wanted?

    After Reading: What did you learn from Gilly about family? Who do you think was more of a family to her? Trotter, W.E. and Mr. Randolph or Nonnie and Courtney? Why? (This would work as a writing prompt or as a classroom discussion.)

    Paterson, K. (1978). The Great Gilly Hopkins . New York: Crowell.  
    Newbery Honor Book

     Happy Reading (&Running) =)

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