The initial idea for this story came from a relative in China who had approached my mother,
looking for family photographs while conducting genealogical research.His response to the photographs she sent him
was, "I thought these photos had been lost forever."His simple statement conveyed so much - an
extraordinary idea in the digital photo age, a reference to a more turbulent
time, an appreciation for what was found - that I wanted to find a way to
channel those powerful thoughts into a story while still maintaining a connection to a modern character.
Dicussion Questions and Activities
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.
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?
is the secret that Lucy’s grandmother kept from her family?Why did she have this secret?Was her decision to keep a secret
harmful or helpful to the rest of the family?
comment by Yi Po does Lucy misinterpret?Do you think she would have made the same mistake if Yi Po had
spoken English?What if Lucy had
been in a better mood?
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?
Activity: Look through the
advertisements in a magazine.What
products are sold with young-looking people, and what products are sold with
older-looking people?Based on the ads,
do you think it is more desirable to be younger or older?
the student-faculty basketball game has been announced, Sloane tells Lucy
she shouldn’t try out for captain because “who ever heard of a basketball team
lead by a short Chinese girl”.What
does Sloane hope to gain from saying that?How does her attitude compare to Lucy’s dad’s belief that Lucy
should not focus on basketball because very few Chinese-Americans play
Activity: Research pioneers in
other sports and professions, such as Jackie Robinson, the first baseball
player to integrate professional baseball, and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first
female Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.What did they have to overcome to become a “first”?
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?
Lucy’s feelings toward Talent Chang change over time?When do they really become friends?What qualities would Lucy say she
admires about Talent?
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
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?
Lucy’s friendship with Madison.How does their friendship compare with
Gabi and Ariana’s friendship with Sloane?What kinds of friends do you prefer?Do you think one kind of friend is
better than the other?What
qualities do you look for in a best friend?
does Lucy’s side of the room reflect her mood?Do you think a person’s surroundings is
a sign of how he or she is feeling?Do
you think you can change your mood by changing your surroundings?
Content copyright . Wendy Shang. All rights reserved.