The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine Paterson
PUBLISHER, 1978; Awarded 1981.
Synopsis: Brash and sassy Gilly Hopkins is ready to be her usual obnoxious self when she arrives at her new foster home. Her usual tricks do not work in the home or at school. She is determined not to care and writes to her real mother, which brings a surprising visit from an unknown grandmother. All of this results in an unexpected ending.
Themes: Foster homes, Human relationships
Author: Katherine Paterson was born and spent her childhood in China, but moved to North Carolina when her family was evacuated during World War II. Because of her English accent and unusual clothing she did not fit in and as a result she became an avid reader with a very vivid fantasy life. She has received numerous awards. In writing a story her aim is to make the story and its characters have a life of their own. She and her husband John, who is a Presbyterian pastor, live in Barre, Vermont.
Discussion questions: Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. Gilly’s given name is Galadriel and she has no idea where the name might have originated, but her teacher, Mrs. Harris, notes that it is the name of a great queen in a story by what author? (Tolkien)
2. What did Gilly find when she went to Mr. Thompson's home to find a book to read to him? What did she do with what she found and what does she plan to do with it? (Money. Hid it in her drawer under clothing and plans on buying a ticket and visit her mother once she locates her.)
3. What did Mrs. Harris tell Gilly after she received Gilly's card that they had in common? (Both were very angry persons.)
1. Write the book title on the chalkboard and ask students to think about who the Great Gilly Hopkins might be and what her character might be like based on the title and the illustration on the cover. Standard 2, Benchmark 4
2. Discuss with the class what it feels like to be a new student in school. Encourage students to tell how they would act if they were new at school and what they would do to make friends. Then lead the class in writing a set of helpful guidelines for new students and for a class that has a new student. Standard 3, Benchmark 2
3. Ask the students if they know what bravado is and make a word web with their ideas on the chalkboard. As they read have them note how the main character in the book shows bravado and the reasons why she does. Standard 3, Benchmark 4