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The Word Eater
by Mary Amato
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1.If you had a magic worm like Fip, what word would you have him eat? What might be the good or bad things that could happen?
2.Do you believe in any kind of magic? Why or why not?
3.Why do you think people love to read stories about magic?
4.Why do you suppose the author named the main character Lerner Chanse? And who else has a meaningful name in this story?
5.At the beginning of the book, Reba and the Most Powerful Ones On Earth (the MPOOEs) try to pressure Lerner into stealing her teacher's grade book in order to be accepted into their group. What would you have done if you were Lerner?
6.Do you have any groups at your school like the MPOOEs? How do you feel about this kind of club after reading this book?
7.At the beginning of the book, we got to see a worm's-eye view of worm society. How does Fip's initiation into worm life compare to Lerner trying to fit in at her new school?
8.The author used some made-up words like ummy, skinched, and smatch. Could you tell what the words meant even though they were made-up words? Do you think it's okay to make up words that didn't exist before? Why or why not?
9.Did you like the way the author made chapter headings using quotes from books, only changing the titles a little to be more worm-y? Have you read any of the books she mentions?
10.The author used clever ways to show us some pretty funny consequences to the disappearances of words that Fip ate. Which story did you like best? For example, &the thumbtacks that disappeared and caused the dance teacher to land on her head? &the woman who lost and regained her ability to speak? &the discovery and then disappearance of Jay's Star? &the Attackaterriers becoming friendly? &the child workers at Mack Industries gaining their freedom? &the teacher Mr. Droan suddenly losing his suit?
11.How do you think Lerner might have liked her new school if she'd had a better teacher than Mr. Droan? For example, what if Mrs. Popocheskovich had been a classroom teacher instead of the school librarian?
12.What food would you get rid of from the school menu if you were going to have Fip eat a word?
13.Do you think Bobby was mean at school because his father was mean to him at home? Do you think he was at all like Attackaterriers in this way?
14.On the very last page of The Word Eater, a psychic in an advertisement says: Something is going to happen on September 1st. What do you think is going to happen on September 1st? (Hint: See page 45.)
15.Were you surprised by the ending of this book? How did you think it was going to end?
16.What, if anything, surprised you most in the story?
17.What do you think about the way the other kids at school treated Lerner?
18.Despite the many maybe "bad" things that happened in this book, it had a happy ending. Do you like happy endings? Why or why not?
19.Lerner tried to feed Fip nonsense words. But can you really ever know if a word is a word or not, such as a word in another language? How could you find out?
20.On page 106, Lerner writes down all of the words she fed to Fip and the results. One apparently good thing Lerner did was to have Fip eat Mr. Robert Nitz's meanness toward Bobby. Can you think of how this might have turned out badly? Or can you think of other very specific things like this that Fip could eat to make GOOD things happen?
21.Lerner was not likeable all the time, or she sometimes did bad things. What was at least one thing that might make her not so admirable?
22.Do you keep a notebook like Lerner does where she puts her ideas, like when she thought out her experiments? If you said yes, what kinds of things do you like to write in a diary or notebook?
23.When Lerner first figured out Fip's magic powers, she suddenly became very aware of all the words around her. Did you find yourself noticing words more while reading this book? And did you think what might happen if certain words disappeared?
24.At one point, Lerner decides that she should use Fip's power for good instead of evil. But really, given what we learn about some unintended consequences that she didn't even know about, how would she ever know if the results were good or bad?
25.Who was your favorite character in the book? Why?
26.Would you want a magic worm like Fip? Why or why not? Or what other kind of magic creature would you want?
27.Do you think clubs are a good idea? Why or why not?
28.Do you know kids in your class who are like Reba, who seem to always be the leader? Are the kids you know "good" leaders or "bad" leaders? Why?
29.Was there anything in the story that seemed unbelievable? What was it? And did it make the story less fun to read, or better?
30.We never learned what happened to Lerner's friend Marie when Fip just ate the first letter of her name. What do you suppose should or could have happened when Fip ate just part of a word like that? (Remember when he ate just C-L-E-V-E-L from Cleveland Middle School and a Clevel brand hair dye disappeared?)
31.If you were to continue the story, what do you think would happen next for Lerner?
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