It's a new month, which means a new book for family book club!
If you need a reminder on how family book club works, read the beginning of the March post. Here's a quick reminder:
- We choose the book
- You & your family read it, either together or separately
- You & your family then have a book club meeting
- We provide you with discussion questions, activity ideas, and food & decoration ideas for your family book club meeting
- You enjoy time together as a family
This month, we are talking about family relationships which is a great lead into the Dear Daughter Workshop on April 30th. It's important to build and continually strengthen relationships with each member of our immediate family, as well as our extended family too. I think our book club pick is a great example of building family relationships.
So, without further ado, April's pick is:
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
I'm so excited for us to read this book because it's been a favorite of mine for a few years now. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads.com:
An unsent letter in a first edition copy of Charlotte's Web leads to a hunt for treasure in this heartwarming middle grade mystery from the author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club.
Now that Truly Lovejoy's father has been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and is having trouble finding work back home, the family moves from Texas to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, to take over Lovejoy's Books, a struggling bookstore that's been in the family for one hundred years.
With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy's Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edition of Charlotte's Web, which subsequently goes missing from the bookshop. What's inside the envelope leads Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger.
This is such a fun read and I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as I do.
We chose this book because Truly has to navigate relationships with her siblings, her busy mother, a father that's been through a traumatic experience, her aunt Truly, and moving to a new town and making new friends. Truly is also 6 feet tall (Mollie is a fan of that!) and with a unique name like Truly, she definitely has some opportunities to build self-confidence.
Length: 355 pages, 8 hours and 1 minute (audiobook)
Reading age/level: 8-12 years / grades 3-7
This is definitely a book that can be read out loud to younger kids. And if you enjoy this book, there are two more in the series!
Here's a reading schedule if you want to finish by the end of the month:
Family Book Club Meeting
You can choose to use some or all of these questions, or create your own!
- Why does Truly feel the need to go into "stealth mode" when she moves to a new place? What can we do for people that move into our neighborhood, or are new to our school?
- Do you think the size of the Lovejoys' new town influenced Truly's ability to go into "stealth mode"? Do we live in a small town? How can we make it feel like we do?
- After J.T.'s (Truly's dad) tragic accident, Dinah (Truly's mom) became the rock of the family while J.T. recovered physically and mentally. How do you think she felt? How did the family pull together to help each other through such a difficult time? Are there things that we can do to better support each other?
- Truly often mentions that she feels left out or invisible, specifically in her family. Do you think this is the case, or do you think Truly is being selfish/self-centered?
- Why do you think Truly's relationship with her dad changed after he came back from Afghanistan? Do you know anyone that has had a similar experience?
- Do you want to read the other two books about Truly?
You can choose one or more of these activities, or do something else!
- Bird watching
- Check out some books at the library about birds, especially birds from your area.
- Go to a local aviary and learn more about birds there.
- Go on a nature walk as a family and look for birds. Consider making a "life list" like Truly to record the types of birds you have seen.
- Clay owls
- There isn't a tutorial for this, but I've made some small owls out of modeling clay based on a picture that I found on Pinterest. If you'd be interested in seeing a tutorial, leave a comment below and I'll consider making one!
- Make Aunt True's Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies together. Consider giving some away to some neighbors, friends, or family.
- Learn a dance together as a family & record it or perform it for someone else
- Truly learns a ballroom dance, but your family can get creative and decide what you want to do! There are tons of dance routines on TikTok.
- Play a board game. You could play a mystery game (Clue, Mysterium, an escape room game) or a bird-related game like Wingspan
- Find a service project to do for wounded veterans like the Wounded Warrior Project
We have a few ideas for this, though there are definitely more references to food in the second book! Heather Frederick includes a recipe at the back of each of the Pumpkin Falls Mystery books, so we have the recipe Aunt True's Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.
Chicken enchiladas - I'm still hoping that Heather will eventually include a recipe for Dinah's chicken enchiladas since they're apparently something to rave about! Until then, here's a recipe I found from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.
"Toot Soup" (bean soup) - the name says it all. You've been warned!
Aunt True's Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (recipe from the back of the book) - the signature treat at the bookstore. If you don't have cardamom, you can use 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp of nutmeg as a substitute.
"Vomit bars" - Also known as Seven Layer Bars are one of the Lovejoy family's favorite desserts. I think I prefer "seven layer bars" over "vomit bars" haha!
Anything with maple syrup or pumpkin would also be fitting for this Pumpkin Falls mystery!
As for decorations, a woodsy or bird theme would fit really well!
Heather Vogel Frederick began her writing career as a journalist, an occupation that kept her happily occupied for two decades. She’s a former staff reporter and children’s book review editor for The Christian Science Monitor, and she has also written for The New York Times, Family Life, Child, and Publishers Weekly, where she was a contributing editor for many years. Heather eventually left journalism to fulfill her lifelong dream of writing fiction for children, and today she’s the author of twenty books for young readers, including the popular Pumpkin Falls mysteries and the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. Heather’s work spans numerous genres, from historical fiction to fantasy, fractured fairy tales, mystery, contemporary realism, and picture books, and has been honored both nationally and internationally.
(picture and bio taken from https://www.heathervogelfrederick.com/)
Books by Heather: