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The Road to Paris


 Title:The Road to Paris; Author: Nikki Grimes; Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Copyright: 2006.

Grade Level: 3-5

ISBN: 0399245375; Cost: $15.99

the road to paris

Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets:

Preferred wording: The Road to Paris by Nikki Crimes. Copyright © 2006. Used with permission of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.


Synopsis: Due to their mother’s need to console herself when she does not have a partner in marriage and in many different marriages, Paris Richmond and her older brother Malcolm have become part of the foster care system. Desperation with their abusive treatment leads them to run away. Not even grandmother is a safe haven. For Paris, however, hope and trust are found with the Lincoln family in Ossining, New York. That is, until her birth mother calls with the news that she has married again and is eager to have a family --- again.

 General Review:

 The Road to Paris by award winning author, Nikki Grimes, is not just another sad tale of foster home life. It is Paris’s story of hope and personal growth. It is a well written example of how good foster care provides a real family for children whom parents neglect. We need a sequel, however, to reassure us that Paris is on the right road.

Author Information: Almost every site relating to Nikki Grimes refers to her as a “prolific author.” She is the author of more than twenty-five books for children, young adults and adults. Her work is prose, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has earned awards from the Coretta Scott King awards, American Library Association (ALA), National Council of Teachers of English and Southern California Children’s Book Association. Her talents include singing, dancing, visual and wearable arts in addition to her writing. Additional information about Nikki Grimes can be found on the following web sites:

Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark3)

  1. Discuss how Paris knows that she is loved in her interactions with her birth mother, with Malcolm and with the Lincolns.
  2. Describe the events that occurred at the grandmother’s house. Explain the grandmother’s rationale for her actions.
  3. Paris has several difficult experiences before she was settled at the Lincoln’s. Most children would consider the travels, the state workers and new people frightening. How would you expect other girls and boys to react if they were in Paris’s place? Talk about Paris’s reactions in comparison with those of yourself or your friends.
  4. In what ways does the “Prologue” prepare you for the story? It seems that more and more books written for upper elementary and young adult readers have prologues to be read prior to the chapters. Is this a good trend? How does it enhance the story or does it take away from the story itself?
  5. The first line of Chapter 36, “Gamble,” is “The next morning, for the first time ever, a grown-up asked Paris what she thought.” What are your thoughts on that statement? Is it unusual or commonplace that no one previously asked Paris for her thoughts on an issue important to her? If you were one of the adults in Paris’s life what would you have done to include her in decision making events? Or should adults make the decisions for children? Explain your thoughts on this.



  1. To help understand the locale of Paris’s story, visit the websites of Queens, a borough of New York City, Washington Heights neighborhood and Ossining, New York. You may also look at an atlas or encyclopedia for information. Using the book’s title as a theme, design a simple map of Paris’s journey. Make it colorful and interesting by including facts about the three places and pictures from the sites. Be sure to give appropriate citations for the use of the websites.

(Standard 1, Benchmark 1, Benchmark 4);

(Standard 3, Benchmark 2);

(Standard 8, Benchmark 2)

  • Using a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram, compare the brother-sister relationships between Malcolm and Paris and between David and Paris. Do you anticipate finding many similarities?

(Standard 3, Benchmark 1)


  1. It seems as though the road that Paris is travelling is full of pot holes, bridges that are out, speed bumps and caution signs. One of these cautions for Paris is friendship. It seemed that she had a strong friendship with Ashley until it was totally shut down. When it seems that a new friendship might take off with Sienna, Paris is not too willing to try it. How do you explain the break-up with Ashley? Did it seem realistic that a new friendship should happen so soon after the former one ended? Was the timing of the break-up and the finding of a new friend contrived by the author? Would you have written it differently? Take time to discuss these questions. Following the discussion, make a time line for Paris’s stay with the Lincoln’s. Put important events on the time line in the order that they happened. Then revisit the break-up with Ashley and the new friendship with Sienna. With different colored markers, crayons or stickers, rearrange these events as you believe they would realistically have occurred. Be prepared to explain your reasons for changing the events or for keeping them at the same times.

(Standard 3, Benchmark 1);

(Standard 3, Benchmark 3).

  • One of the most beautiful moments for Paris came on Easter Sunday when she sang at the Star of Bethlehem Church. She sang beautifully and was well praised by the congregation. Her Lincoln brothers and sister, David, Jordan and Earletta were also very proud of their “sister.” Become the author and write an additional paragraph for the conclusion of Chapter 26 to tell how Paris felt and what she thought after the Easter service.

(Standard 3, Benchmark 2)

  • Mrs. Lincoln’s advice to Paris after the break-up with Ashley is a line that is good for all of us to remember. “Mrs. Lincoln had said, ‘Take every person as she comes. Judge each one by her actions.’” For boys the line could read: Take every person as he comes. Judge each one by his actions. Using that line as a slogan, design and create an attractive poster to give this good advice for making friends to other students in your class or school. Be sure to cite the book to give credit to Nikki Grimes for her thoughtful words.

(Standard 3, Benchmark 1)

  • Look into the future and see Paris living with Viola, her newest husband and Malcolm. Imagine that Paris often recalls her time with the Lincolns and that she decides to write a letter of thanks to Mrs. Lincoln and the family. Write the letter for Paris. Name several things for which you would have been grateful if you were Paris. Express your gratitude as Paris would have done and explain why those things are memorable and tell why you are thankful for them. Be sure to use correct letter form.

(Standard 3, Benchmark 1)

  • Foster homes are very real for many of our students in all neighborhoods. Some foster homes are like the one from which Malcolm and Paris ran away. Fortunately, most are more like the Lincoln’s home. Work with your school social worker or school counselor and your teacher to bring an expert on foster homes to your class to provide more information for you about foster care. With the help of the adults you should be able to make the necessary phone or mail contacts to arrange for a speaker such as someone from SRS, Social Rehabilitation Services or Catholic Charities or similar agencies. Once arrangements have been made for the guest expert, prepare questions based on The Road to Paris. Set up students to meet the speaker and provide amenities (water to drink, a podium, and the like). Before and after the expert’s visit, write brief passages for the classroom or school newsletter. Include photos, if possible. Mention the reason for the visit to make a real world connection with The Road to Paris and your class.

(Standard 1, Benchmark 1);

(Standard 3, Benchmark 1);

(Standard 3, Benchmark 3).


Similar Books for Further Reading

 Byars, Betsy. (1977.)The Pinballs New York: Harper & Row.

Codell, Esme Raji. (2006). Vive la Paris. New York: Hyperion Books.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. (1999) Bud, Not Buddy. New York: Delacorte Press.

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. (2003). Where I’d Like to Be. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

De Guzman, Michael. (2007). Finding Stinko. New York: Farrar Strauss & Giroux.

Fogelin, Adrian. (2007). The Sorta Sisters. New York: Peachtree

Gregory, Nan. (2006). I’ll Sing You One-O. New York: Clarion Books.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods.

Spirn, Michele. (2007). Poison Plate. New York: Stone Arch Books.

Wolfson, Jill. (2006) Home and Other Big Fat Lies.New York: Holt.

Wolfson, Jill. (2005) What I Call Life. New York: Holt


Note: Gossamer and The Mailbox, on the grades 6-8 master list, also deal with foster children