Discussion Questions and Activities for THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU:

  • In the prologue, why does Lucy believe that the Chinese story about the old man and his horse fits her situation?  Do you think she is correct?  How is this story similar to the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”?  How is it different? 
  • Activity: Are there idioms – in English or another language – that describe your life or how you view the world?  Try inventing a new idiom that describes one aspect of you and your view of the world.
  • What role does food play in this story?  How does the author show Lucy’s feelings through food?  What role does food play in your life? What dishes does your family have for celebrations?  What do you think makes a dish become part of a tradition?
  • Activity: Learn how to make a favorite family dish, and share it, including the recipe.  How long has this recipe been in the family?  Who is most famous for making it?  What country is it from? 
  • Find examples in the book of how older people are perceived and treated in Chinese culture.  How does this compare with perceptions of older people in the United States?  Why do you think older people are treated differently in these two cultures?
  • In what ways does Sloane intimidate Lucy?  Why doesn’t Lucy tell her parents or teachers?  Do you think Lucy’s reasons are common to kids who are being bullied?  What can schools do to help kids who are being bullied or intimidated?
  • What does Lucy learn about Yi Po from the photograph of Lucy’s grandmother?  How does the photograph change how Lucy feels about Yi Po and how Lucy herself decides to act? 
  • Activity: Find an older photograph either in a family album or online and study it.  What moment or story do you think the photographer was trying to capture?  Look for clues as to how people used to live from their clothing, their belongings and how the photo is taken. What is missing from the photograph that you might see in a similar picture taken today? Try to find out the story behind the picture, or imagine one for yourself.  How has digital photography changed the way people feel about photographs?