I agree that this is a great book for elementary readers because they can really use their imagination to think of how the story will continue. What wonders will he find? Will he find them? What happens if he does? What happens if he doesn't, etc. Great discussions can be created just by asking a few questions.
As I read the first chapter of this book and heard the author and characters describe the setting, it made me think of where we live. I grew up here and personally I love it here. I think it is beautiful, and if I were Eben I believe that I could find "Seven Wonders" here in the area where I live. However, Eben wasn't so sure. I would direct that question to my elementary classroom. First I would ask them to describe the setting in this chapter and then have them describe where we live. They could then compare the two and talk about wether or not they liked the setting of the book and also where we live. Could they find seven wonders here just like Eben is trying to do? What might those seven wonders be? So far this book is great for creating discussions.
After reading the first chapter, I am very interested in the character development of Eben, Pa and Aunt Pretty. The book describes the characters very well and I can picture them in my mind. But, even better, I really feel like I understand what the characters are like. Aunt Pretty seems very content where she is and wonders why anyone would want to be anywhere else. It seems like she would be perfectly content to stay in Sassafras Springs forever without ever setting foot outside the city limits. Eben is the total opposite. He has read about wonderful places all over the world and he would like to see them all. He finds Sassafras Springs boring and dull. Pa seems to like Sassafras Springs and is content there. He thinks that Eben needs to really look around and appreciate where he lives and it's natural beauty. However, it seems like Pa is also a little curious about what lies outside of Sassafras Springs. He said he regrets not taking his late wife to Colorado to see the mountains. He then makes the bet with Eben that could get him on his way to Colorado. Eben seems to have peaked his father's curiousity a little. I'm anxious to see how the character's develop throughout the book. I wonder if by the end, they will still feel the same about Sassafras Springs.
Character development is a main interest to me while reading. I love learning about characters, their likes, dislikes, dreams, etc. I closely relate to Eben so far. I, too, am an only child and have experienced feelings of restlessness with where I am at. I grew up in the southern suburbs of Chicago, so it's not as isolated as say, Sassafras Springs, but wasn't as exciting as Chicago, or any other big city for that matter. The unknown and unfamiliar intrigues me, as it does for Eben. My burning question, at the moment, is, "Will Eben learn to truly appreciate Sassafras Springs for what it is?"
I feel the same way. The character development of this young boy will be the most interesting part of the novel. I know that when I was young I dreamed of seeing wonders. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and there was not much to see. Its important to remember that even though you see these things everyday does not mean that they are not wonders. I think the main theme is going to be to stop and appreciate the things around you.
I agree. I think that we take our environment (like the book setting) for granted because we see it everyday. It seems dull and boring because it isn't new to us. But, if we look at what is around us with the idea that it can be a wonder, we may see it in a whole new light. I think there is a chance that could happen to Eben also. He could end up seeing Sassafras Springs in a whole different way.
I think another point to make is the connection he will make with his neighbors. He is going to talk to people he probably knew all of his life but he will learn so much. Finding the wonders will be an eye opening experience for him and it will allow him to grow. The story he hears about Zeldy the doll, i think will be one of many "wonderful" stories he is going to hear.
While reading the first chapter of the book I was at first angry with Eben. It was frustration for me to see him blankly missing the wonders around him. Although, growing up in a small town I have felt the need to find greatness in a far away place. I really enjoyed Aunt Pretty although she came off as simple. She is content with the places she is surrounded by. I think the whole concept of finding one wonder a day should be a lifestyle for all of us. Finding the things around us that are amazing. I am interested to see what wonders Eben finds and if his desire to leave will be as strong as it is now. I also will be interested on how his Pa and Aunt react to his changes. The journey to find these wonders i think will be a wonder in itself.