Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The People in Pineapple Place by Anne Lindbergh

The People in Pineapple Place by Anne Lindbergh, cover illustrated by Marla Frazee

Rating: 3.5 stars

Young August Brown moves to Washington, DC, after his parents divorce.  He is adjusting to a new reality in many ways--his mother is back at work for the first time in his life, he lives in a brand-new city (specifically, a neighborhood in Georgetown), and he has no friends.  Until he meets April and her siblings and friends.  He stumbles upon them one day in an alley around the corner from his house, and is overjoyed that they have taken him in as their new playmate.

The funny thing is, they are not real.  They are invisible to everyone but him.  (Well, even more mysteriously, one of the kids is often seen by an adult or two, causing for massive confusion in both real and imaginary worlds.)  They have some fun adventures in their neighborhood and in Washington, DC, itself, and August begins to feel more at home in his new home and also within himself.  Amazing what friends can do, huh?

This book is not the best read aloud chapter book for younger (5-8) kids.  It is not the best book for a 6 year old to read on her own.  But it is the book that our local library selected as the book to be discussed at this afternoon's Kids Book Club.  Lorelei saw the sign and said, "I would love to do that!"  So...I read the book myself, decided it was fine for her to read, and then met with her to have our first Mother-Daughter Book Club.

My goal was two-fold: First, to spend time with our oldest, whose good behavior often means that she gets the least attention.  Mix that with the longest school day of all three children, and you get a mom who misses her daughter when the school year starts. We are both pretty crazy about books; why not share that passion with someone I'm crazy about?  Second, I wanted to give her an example of what a book club was about.  Sure, plenty of them are more social than literary, but I needed to gauge her interest and ability to talk about a book in a focused way.

Well, she did great!  And we had a great time.

Lorelei and her chosen treat: a cake pop
I couldn't find any study questions on The People in Pineapple Place so I got into Kate-the-teacher mode and made up my own.  Along with a fancy-ish invitation to join me for tea, I gave Lorelei a list of these questions about a week before we met so she could think about the answers, reread the book if she wanted (she did), and know what sort of thing we'd be discussing.

  1. Pretend I've not read the book. What is the book about?
  2. Which character do you like the best?  Why?
  3. Why is August mad at the beginning of the story?
  4. Do you think August is telling the truth--can he really see the kids?
  5. What would be fun about being 10 years old for a long, long time?  What would NOT be fun?
  6. What places have you been to that August has also visited?
  7. Why can August's mom only see one child?
  8. What was your favorite part of the story?

The book was fine, the afternoon with Lorelei was priceless.  We sat outside Starbucks--well, I sat and she twirled and flitted around the seating area while answering all these questions and more.  We laughed about the silly parts of the books, especially about the games the invisible kids could play and get away with, such as roller skating in the National Museum of Art.  A conversation with any child is a bit like sitting in the passenger seat and letting them drive a little--you've got to just follow their lead, take advantage of the focused moments and chuckle at the very random tangents that inevitably occur.

I'm really looking forward to next month's Mother Daughter Book Club!  I think Lorelei is, too, though she might be looking forward to the cake pop at Starbucks more than time with her mom.  That's ok, those things do look tasty.


  1. This is so so awesome! What a great way for her to use her comprehension skills and also to practice literary language and engage in discussion. I love this and the reading specialist in me especially loves this!

  2. I'm homeschooling my kids, and my oldest is 7 but reads on a 4th/5th grade level. I'm constantly hunting for age-appropriate books that will still challenge him. I remember reading this book when I was in 4th grade, and I LOVED it! I'm writing my own comprehension questions for each chapter, which I plan to post on my homeschooling blog ( once I've finished the book. I think you've got some great questions to ask about the book overall and wondered if you'd mind my using them with my son?

  3. oh my gosh of course not! feel free. if you come up with other ones, please feel free to post here in the comments section. glad you loved it! I am starting to post one Middle Grade book each week, so please check back or like me on Facebook to get those reviews!