Here is a link to Lynne Rae reading from and introducing the book Criss Cross, produced by TeachingBooks.net. There may also be a part where she tells you something about her first name.
This link takes you to Bill Perkins’s website (Lynne Rae’s husband). He makes beautiful rustic furniture, take a look.
This link takes you to a wonderfully awesome video of the amazing Lynda Barry (one of LRP’s heroes and favorite human beings. Though known by me only through her work. Fave being One Hundred Demons.) talking for about 6 minutes about poetry, why it’s great to memorize it, and how you can sing Emily Dickinson poems to the tune of Girl from Ipanema. You really must see this.
This link is to a little (4 minutes + 44 seconds) video of Maira Kalman (another LRP hero and favorite human being) talking about art and life. Some of her work is definitely for kids, this little video is philosophical, and I’m guessing it will appeal to you more if you are at least 15 years old.
Here is a coloring page with Johnny Appleseed and apples and kids, to go along with the book Seed by Seed, written by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by moi:
Discussion Questions and Activities for Criss Cross
prepared by Barbara Auerbach, Librarian, P..s 217, Brooklyn, New York, for a Study Guide from Harper Collins
- Why do you think the title of this book is Criss Cross? How do characters “cross” paths with one another? Do you think having the story told from different people’s viewpoints adds to this theme? How does the necklace fit into the “criss cross”?
- How does the plot of the book differ from others you have read? Does it tell a complete story?
- The author uses many different styles to tell the story, including haiku, song lyrics, and her own illustrations. Do these add to your understanding of the story? Two characters tell their story at the same time on the same pages. Why do you think the author did this?
- Debbie wished something would happen. Then she “checked her wish for loopholes, because of all those stories about wishes that come true but cause disasters at the same time. Like King Midas turning his daughter and all of his food into gold.” What do you think Debbie wants to happen? How could her wish backfire?
- In chapter two, Hector waves to girls he knows and thinks, “they were changing from caterpillars into butterflies.” What does he mean by this? He feels himself changing from a puppy into a young dog. What animal do you see yourself as?
- Something momentous happens when Hector goes to the coffeehouse with his sister to hear some live music. How does it change him? Can you think of an experience you had that opened your eyes to new possibilities or interests? Explain.
- “Hanging out in the truck listening to the radio show got to be a regular thing.” Why is the radio show important? Do you and your friends have a TV show, computer game, or some other kind of game that you watch or play together all the time? What is it?
- “The reason they were changing their clothes in a rhododendron bush was cultural evolution. Both of them had mothers who were stranded in the backwaters of a bygone era.” Explain this quote. Do you and your parents have different views on issues such as clothing? What are they? Describe an item of clothing you bought under duress.
- Lenny’s mother wonders, “How come you know so many things . . . and you don’t get better grades?” Do you know anyone like Lenny, who is smart but does not do well in school? Describe him or her.
- Debbie looks at her yearbook photo and thinks she is still a caterpillar. Why do you think she feels that way? Do you see yourself as a caterpillar or a butterfly? Explain.
- In chapter 17, Pastor Don sabotages Hector’s plans with Meadow. Explain how he does this. What else goes wrong? Describe a time you were in a similar situation. What happened and how did it make you feel?
- In chapter 18, Debbie gets a room of her own. Even though she admits that it is smaller than she had expected, she still thinks of it as her “sanctuary.” What does this mean? Do you have a “sanctuary?”
- After cutting Mrs. Brunings’s hair, Debbie worries that the old woman will have regrets. Still, when she looks in the mirror, Mrs. Bruning cries, “Free at last, free at last . . . Great God A’mighty, I’m free at last.” Who originally said these words? what sort of emotion do you associate with this quote? Why did Mrs. Bruning say this?
- Mrs. Bruning’s family wants her to move to a senior citizen home. Peter can see she would rather “drop dead.” Do you think she should move? Why or why not? Why do you think she is so opposed to moving?
- Peter, Mrs. Bruning’s grandson, thinks that Debbie knows “how to do things. All kinds of things.” In chapter 24, what does the reader learn that Debbie know how to do? Where did she learn to do these things?
- In chapter 31, Debbie notices the old nun and the ravine. who else has noticed them before? Why does Perkins make note of this in Criss Cross?
- Retell Rowanne’s story about Becky and her fictitious boyfriends. What does Debbie learn from Becky’s story?
- Do you like the conclusion of the book? explain why or why not. Would you change it if you could? How?
Activities:(please excuse #discrepancies. every time I tried to fix them, things disappeared.)
- Debbie talks about how wishes can have loopholes, like King Midas’s wish that everything he touches turn to gold. Write down a simple wish. Show it to a classmate and have him or her check it for loopholes. what could go wrong? If necessary, revise the wording of the wish to avoid unpleasant consequences.
- Read the description of the radio show “Criss Cross.” in small groups, plan an episode of the show. what songs would you play? What jokes would you tell? Share with the class.
- Hector thinks the name “Meadow” is both funny and beautiful. Make a list of other names that are also words. Research what your name means. How did you get your name? If you could have any other name, what would it be?
- Debbie thinks the yearbook should have haiku rather than quotes about each graduate. A haiku is an unrhymed Japanese poem with three lines. the first line is five syllables long; the second is seven; and the last is five. Write a haiku for your yearbook picture, for your best friend, or for one of the characters in the book.
- Write a verse for Hector’s song “Totally Fine,” and share it with the class.
- Chapter 19 is called, “Where the Necklace went.” Make a map of all the places it went.
- Debbie gets a letter from Peter, but the contents are not disclosed. Imagine you are one of the characters in the book, and either write Peter’s letter or Debbie’s response.Debbie talks about how wishes can have loopholes, like King Midas’s wish that everything he touches turn to gold. write down a simple wish. Show it to a classmate and have him or her check it for loopholes. what could go wrong? If necessary, revise the wording of the wish to avoid unpleasant consequences.