The Man Who Loved Clowns.  June Rae Wood

PUBLISHER, 1992; Awarded 1995.

Synopsis:  After the death of her parents, Delrita Jensen, age 13, tries to protect her loveable and vulnerable 35-year-old Uncle Punky from being heckled and teased because of his Downs Syndrome.  She does not approve of her Aunt Queenie's decision to send Punky to a sheltered workshop and wishes she and Punky could remain hidden in the safety of home.  Encouraged by Punky's reaction to his new friends and activities, Delrita learns to spread her wings and fly.

Themes:  Self-worth, Downs Syndrome, Family, Letting go, Death, Coming of age


Discussion questions:  Standard 3, Benchmark 3
1. What are Punky's talents?  Delrita's talents?  How do each of them discover their talents?
2. What does Delrita learn about herself, others, and about living?
3. There are a number of influences or helper figures in Delrita's life.  Name some of them and explain.

1. This story focuses on the struggle to attain self-worth.  Decorate a paper clown shape to represent you.  Then write a paragraph explaining how your clown exhibits your sense of self-worth (something you are good at).  Display.  Standard 3, Benchmark 4
2. After discussing the novel, draw a swan with outstretched wings.  On one wing list ways you spread your wings now.  On the other wing, list ways you might spread your wings in the future.  Standard 5, Benchmark 3
3. To help identify with the character and promote him, make a character promotion box for Punky patterned after commercially packaged products.  Describe Punky on the sides of a small box.  Include ingredient information (facts about the character), nutritional facts (how the character helps or affects others), promotional material (interesting, unique, or memorable character traits), as well as the character's name, the book title, author, publisher, and date of publication.  Decorate the box with drawings and pictures which help promote the character.  Standard 2, Benchmark 2