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The Doll Shop Downstairs
by Yona Zeldis McDonough
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1.What was life like for Anna and her family? They lived in New York City in 1914 – how was her life different from yours?
2.Have you ever not wanted to go to school because of a test or some other reason? What did you do? ---Do you ever wish you were better at something than your brothers, sisters, cousins or friends? Is it easy to be jealous? How can you get over the feelings of jealousy?
3.What was Saturday’s like for Anna and her family? [p.19-20]
4.Have you ever had a tea party? What did you eat? Did you use a tea set?
5.Do you ever tell your worries or problems to your doll, dog or cat? Did it help?
6.How did Papa treat his customers - the man who was rude and the girl who was so sad? (p. 28-29). ---Is it hard to be polite and kind when someone is being rude or mean to you? Do you think it is important to be polite?
7.Why do you think some immigrant parents refuse to learn the new language? How hard is it to learn another language? Does it get harder as you get older? Why?
8.Have you ever been to FAO Schwartz or another big toy store? What did you see? What did you want and what did you get?
9.Could you understand why Sophie was so upset with Trudie about the tea set that she wanted to get at FAO Schwartz? Did you understand how Trudie felt? Were you surprised that Sophie said those mean things to Trudie? ---How did Anna convince Trudie to choose the tea set? ---Anna realized how young Trudie was and felt compassion (understanding) for Trudie. Has something like this ever happened to you?
10.Mama and Papa were arguing over money in Yiddish, so the girls couldn’t understand them. What do you think they were saying?
11.When the war started – World War I – Anna was frightened and sad just thinking about it. Have you ever felt that way, too? [p. 81]
12.The new Doll Shop – with dolls they made themselves – was Anna’s idea. How did it make her feel? [p.57-62]
13.Why was Mr. Ira Greenfield, the head buyer at FAO Schwartz, important to the doll shop? [p.75-76]
14.There was no television in Anna’s time, and Papa and Mama had no money to advertise in the newspaper. How did people hear about the new dolls they had to sell?
15.When Miss MacKay came to pick up Bernadette Louise, Anna tried very hard not to cry. Does crying make us feel better? How does that happen?
16.Anna wrote down all of her feelings and experiences in her new notebook, and this helped her feel less sad. Have you ever written or drawn pictures when you were sad or upset?
17.Why was Anna nervous about sending the letter to Miss Mackay? Should she have gone through her papa’s files to find Miss MacKay’s address? If Anna had asked Mama and Papa’s permission to send the letter, do you think they would have said yes?
18.Did you like the way the story ended? Were you surprised that Miss Mackay brought Bernadette Louise back to Anna? Why did she do that? ---The author wrote another story about Anna – do you think you might read it?
19.In the author’s note, Ms. McDonough stated that she based the story on the life of Beatrice Alexander, known as Madame Alexander, who created dolls during World War I. Do you think you could invent a new doll or toy someday?
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