Monday, October 12, 2020

Pax - a discussion space

Welcome to our discussion of PAX by Sara Pennypacker. We are a class of 4th and 5th graders in Boulder, Colorado who are reading this book as part of the Global Read Aloud (GRA).

Students: read the discussion questions each week and respond to one or more that you find interesting. If you want to go deeper into a question, make a blog post of your own and point us to it.

Note:  Some of the posts provide background information. If you want to see just the novel discussion questions, click on the "Discussion" label in the right sidebar.

(credits: Some of the discussion questions on this blog are taken from other sources. Since we are currently reading and discussing the book, I am not linking to those sources. This is so the story isn't "spoiled" for my students by them reading questions about later chapters. When we finish the book, I'll provide credit links here)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Peter vs. Pax

ill. Jon Klassen
In the novel, Sara Pennypacker tells the story with alternating points of view: one chapter from Peter's point of view, and one from Pax's.

Why do you think the author decided to tell the story from dual points of view with alternating chapters describing of the separate adventures of Peter and Pax? Does this structure help the story move forward and enhance your understanding of the plot? Do you ever feel at the end of a chapter that you wish it wouldn't switch so you don't have to wait to find out what's going to happen to Pax or Peter?

One thing I think about: Pax and Peter are, so far, completely separated so it makes sense that we see their adventures from their own points of view. Neither knows what is happening to the other. But what about the other characters? I think it would be interesting to try to re-write one of the Peter chapters from Vola's point of view, or one of the Pax chapters from Bristle's or Runt's point of view. Anybody want to try doing that?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

paX Marks the Spot

Here is a cool little bookmark to mark your place in Pax or anyplace else you'd like a fox looking out for you. I hope somebody makes one for me!

Update: Look what appeared in our Pax book! I'm so impressed that the kids could watch the video once and sit right down and make the bookmark. These two were made by Maya and Tjaden. Now, we have Pax and Runt making sure we get the story right!

Wild or Tame?

In chapter 12, Peter learns about a racoon that visits Vola's house and hangs out on the porch. He's named Francois Villon, after a famous French thief. Peter asks Vola if the raccoon is wild or tame. As is typical of Vola, she answers with the truth, not a label: he visits when he wants, she gives him some food, he leaves her chickens alone. He's a companion.

But then she turns the tables on Peter: "Just wondering," she said. "You staying out here on the porch.  What do you suppose that makes you? Wild or tame?"

What do you think Vola means by that, are you “wild or tame”? We've talked about how Peter and Pax are changing from being a typical boy and a typical pet. Are either of them becoming "wild"? Both of them? What does that word mean to you? Is a wild animal the same kind of "wild" as a wild human?

It's interesting to think about how the concepts of "wild" and "tame" apply to the various characters in this book. For example, why is it hard for the wild foxes to accept Pax when he finds them? Why is he becoming more accepted now? I'd like to hear how you think the concepts of wild and tame apply to a character to help explain their acctions or personalities.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wages of War

Vola tells Peter, 

“People should tell the truth about what war costs”

What costs of war does each of the characters in this book pay? Pick one or more characters and describe both the physical and emotional costs that that character experiences.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Blood on the Snow and Cold Steel Jaws

Photo by Ray Hennessy
Bristle warns Runt that all humans are dangerous. At the end of chapter 9, Bristle begins a story- “...the story she was about to relate would end with blood on the snow and cold steel jaws.

What story do you think Bristle will tell?

(Blogging idea: flesh out your idea into an actual story, and post it on your blog)


Vola's house - illustration by Jon Klassen
The concept of "home" is an important one in this book. Pets and children often have their homes chosen for them, and that has happened to both Peter and Pax.

In Chapter 8, Vola asks Peter, “So which is it? You going back for your home or your pet?”
Peter responds, "They are the same thing."

What did Peter mean by that? Do you think Pax would have answered the same way, or differently?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Power of Images

One of the best things about good stories is that they can create powerful images in our minds. The Pax novel has terrific illustrations by Caldecott Award winning illustrator, Jon Klassen. You can see some of them on the earlier posts on this blog.

But, the words of the story can also paint pictures in our minds. This is called "imagery". Is there some spot in the story that really painted a picture in your mind? If so, what was it?

If you'd like, you can draw or paint a picture to share here. That's what Tristan did in the picture in this post. I've started an art gallery page called "The Art of Pax" to display student art, so you can send me your picture, and I'll add it to the Art of Pax page (it's linked in the navigation bar on the right).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Life in Wartime

“Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening” 
This phrase appears at the beginning of the book, before the story starts. What does this mean to you? Why do you think that the author didn't put the story of Pax in any particular time or place?

(Blogging idea: connect the Pax story to some real time and place that children had to deal with war in their homeland)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pax's Cousin?

For those of you who haven't seen many foxes, here is one that some people encountered near our school, on one of the NCAR trails. You can see how someone might want one for a pet, can't you?

An Interview with the Author

"For a long time, I’d wanted to write about the injustice of adults committing wars and children paying for them"
In this School Library Journal interview,  War Through a Child's - and a Fox's - Eyes, Sara Pennypacker tells how she got the strength to write about such an important - but heavy- subject. Her secret: the love between a child and an animal made the hard tale possible.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Pax-Peter connection

illustration by Jon Klassen
The book starts out with Peter and his father releasing Pax into the wild, with his father saying that wild animals need to have a chance to be wild.

Have you ever had to leave a pet or friend behind? How does Peter feel about Pax being released? How does Pax feel about it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wild animals as pets

In the book, we learn that Peter has a fox as a pet. What do you think of the idea of having a wild animal as a pet? What do you think are the PROs and CONs of that? Is it working out for Peter and Pax? Would you / have you ever had a wild animal as a pet?