Family Book Club: A Map Into the World
Reading level: picture book
Synopsis: When Paj Ntaub, her dad and pregnant mom, and Tais Tais move into a new house, Paj Ntaub knows thing will change. Even though their Hmong story cloth is the same, the rest of their surroundings are different—including their neighbors. Paj Ntaub gets to know the new neighbors, Bob and Ruth, better as days go by. She waves to them when she's out in the garden; she walks by when they're sitting on their special bench; and, after Paj Ntaub's two baby brothers are brought home, she sees them every time she goes outside to escape from the crying. Through fall, Paj Ntaub focuses on being a good big sister, and when winter comes, she realizes she hasn't seen much of Bob and Ruth. One day, cars line the street, and Paj Ntaub's father tells her that Ruth has died. Paj Ntaub is sad, but she's also busy with her brothers. When spring comes, she has so much to show them—the first worm, the lilacs, everything growing in the garden—and one of the days when they're outside, they see Bob on the special bench. Paj Ntaub has an idea. She brings her mom over to his driveway, carrying a bucket of sidewalk chalk. While her mom quietly grieves with Bob about Ruth, Paj Ntaub draws everything she's seen while she's lived across the street from them: the first worm, lilacs, the garden, her brothers, the leaves that fall. When she gets to the street, she draws the whole world, just for Bob.
Categories: change, new siblings, death, grief
- Paj Ntaub goes through a lot of change in that first year they live in their new house. Have you ever gone through a big change? How did it make you feel? How did you handle it?
- When Paj Ntaub's little brothers came home, she suddenly had a lot more responsibility. Think of times when you've become responsible for something new. Was it fun? Scary? Both?
- Paj Ntaub hadn't spent much time with Bob and Ruth before winter came and Ruth passed away, but she was still sad when she learned about it. Have there been people in your life who used to be there but aren't anymore? People who have moved away, passed on, or who you don't see as much? What makes you feel better when you think about them?
- When they see Bob again, Paj Ntaub's first thought is how to make him happy. When your friends or family members are sad, what do you do to make them happy? What usually cheers you up?
- With each season, Paj Ntaub finds something new to look forward to: the falling leaves, time inside with her brothers, the first worm, the garden blooming. What are your favorite parts of each season?
Activity: For her map into the world, Paj Ntaub draws all the things she sees around her house and yard. Now it's your turn. Grab some chalk and make your own sidewalk masterpiece. What sort of plants do you see around? Are there family members and neighbors you can include? Animals and pets? Try to include as much as you can.