- Book Club Ideas
Willow’s life is anything but magical. Her brother, Wisp, is ill with a disease that no doctor can seem to identify. Her parents’ arguments over Wisp’s treatments have escalated to the point where they have separated. And Willow has been the one left to pick up the pieces of their now dreary lives.
But when a car accident during a blizzard lands Willow in the tiny town of Kismet, Maine, she finds her life taking an unexpected and exciting turn. Willow is aware that the town is oddly isolated, but the longer she and her brother and mother stay, the more she begins to see that really strange things are happening all around her.
How is it possible that so many of the townspeople know what is to happen before an event actually occurs? Why are there no postboxes in the town? Why does no one own a phone?
With the help of the equally enigmatic Topher Dawson, Willow begins to unravel the secret to Kismet. And she finally discovers what the townspeople have been hiding—There is magic in this town!
Can that magic save Willow’s sick brother and distant parents? Willow starts to think it can.
But the magic comes with a price—a question that must be answered: Do we determine our own future or is our future pre-determined for us. The answer Willow gives to that question could change her life forever!
So is it worth the cost?
Read The Root Of Magic to find out!
Book Club ideas
Kismet, the mysterious town in THE ROOT OF MAGIC, can’t be found on any map, so there’s no way you can go there to hold your book club meeting! So why not create your own “magical” town? String fairy lights. Paint cardboard storefronts and make a setting with the kinds of stores and businesses you would think would be necessary in a town that is cut off from the rest of the world. Hide a bowl of blueberries and provide your book clubbers with hints on where to find them for later discussions.
If you want to do an outside meeting, a quiet part of a local park or a bit of green space will do nicely as Kismet is remote, too. And though much of THE ROOT OF MAGIC takes place during a blizzard, you won’t want to meet outdoors if the weather is that snowy! Still, don’t discount a wintry meeting. Find an outdoor rink and go skating beforehand as Willow and Topher did, cross country ski some nice paths around your house as Willow and Wisp did, or simply have a snowball fight as Topher and his brothers did before picking a cozy spot with a big window so you can still feel like you’re out there in the snowy wilderness!
Berries play a big role in the book, so start your meeting with a small dish of blueberries—maybe the ones you’ve hidden in your “magical” town. Sit in a circle and pass the bowl around the group and have each member take one berry. Don’t eat it yet! When everyone has a berry in their hand, go around the circle and one by one, eat your berry and answer these questions: Each morning when you wake up, would you choose to know what will happen to you that day? Would you like to know if you’ll ace your math test; if you’ll drop the pop fly and lose the game for your team, or would you rather be surprised by what the day has in store for you? What would be the pros of knowing your day beforehand? What would be the cons?
Close your meeting with a slice of Kismet Blueberry Pie topped with a scoop of wintery white vanilla ice cream. Below is my recipe for Blueberry Pie. It is actually my grandmother Mimi’s “secret” recipe, but in honor of the publication of THE ROOT OF MAGIC, I’ll share it with you today!
MIMI AND KATHLEEN BENNER DUBLE’S FAMOUS AND MAGICALLY DELICIOUS BLUEBERRY PIE
4 c. blueberries, rinsed
1 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
Cinnamon and sugar mix
2 Homemade or store bought pie pastries for a double-crust pie. (This is one of the “secrets”. My
grandmother told me that almost every pie crust has the same basic ingredients in them—unless you’re
going super fancy with an amaretto crust or something. So frozen, store-bought works just fine. It’s
what you do to that crust before you bake it that makes your crust stand out. More on that later)
Preheat the oven to 425°
Take the pie shell from the freezer. Separate shells and leave both to defrost slightly on the counter.
Stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Toss with the blueberries. Pour the berries into one of the pastry shells. Top the blueberries with the other crust. Seal and flute the edges. Cut four slits in the top. And now the second “secret”—Spread the top of the pie crust liberally with butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mix. TaDa! A ymmy crust everyone will rave about!
Bake at 425°F for 40-50 minutes. Enjoy!
One tip: Place a cookie sheet on the oven rack below your pie to catch any dripping juices.
Willow and Wisp’s lives have been upended by Wisp’s illness. Willow is sad that she and Wisp can’t share the same carefree times they did when he was disease free, and she wishes she could take back all the times she ignored her brother. If you have a sibling, take some time today to play with them, remembering how Willow regretted not doing this. Try playing some games with your siblings by checking out this site: https://playtivities.com/activities-for-siblings/ If you don’t have any brothers or sisters, play some of these games with a friend you truly love. Let them all know how much they mean to you today!
Wisp has a mysterious illness that affects his whole family. Invite a doctor, nurse, counselor, or other healthcare practitioner to visit your book club and talk about how a healthy child copes with a seriously ill brother or sister. How might your book club help children and families dealing with a serious illness? Can you make bookmarks for kids in your local children’s hospital? Organize a children’s book drive for the hospital library? And don’t forget that it’s not always the sick child who suffers. How can you support the healthy members of the family, too?
The Common Core State Standards addressed by the discussion questions and activities in this guide are noted throughout. For more information on the Common Core, visit corestandards.org.
Check out the discussion Guide by clicking the book below!