what the moon saw by laura resau
(Created by Teacher Beth Knees)
Part 1: Partner Log
Part 2: Individual Log
Welcome to the world of Clara Luna, who, at the age of fourteen, wonders “What is real?” (p. 2) Since she isn’t going to find the answer in her tidy Baltimore suburb, when a letter arrives from Clara’s grandparents, whom she has never met, telling her that they will meet her “on the full moon in June at the airport in Oaxaca,” is it only a coincidence? (p. 13) To heighten the mystery, Clara’s father has avoided answering her questions about her grandparents in the past. In fact, Clara gave up asking her dad about his parents after he told her, “’Mira, Clara, I knew I couldn’t go forward in life if I was always looking back. I had to learn English and work hard and save money. And now, look where I am. I can give a good life to my children. I look to my future, not to my past’” (p. 12). However, Clara’s father now urges her to go and tells Clara that her grandmother “knows things. She knows things” (p. 15). Clara’s decision to go begins her journey of self-discovery.
This is a coming-of-age novel, or one in which the main character experiences growing up and reconciling her own expectations for her inner self with those of the outer world. This is also a novel in which the mystical is considered a real part of everyday life. This is sometimes termed “magical realism” since magical elements are present in an otherwise realistic setting. Magical realism also tends to be very rich in sensory details, symbols, and imagery. “Magical realism” can be considered an ethnocentric term, since it implies that the mystical events are not, in fact, real. The term “magical realism” carries a cultural bias, as there are those who believe in the rituals and occurrences and would argue that the fiction is realistic. However, the term is probably here to stay.
This log is set up in two parts. Part 1 has assignments for you to do with at least one but not more than three partners. You do not have to discuss each assignment with the same partner(s). When you and your partner(s) have discussed the assignment, you should each record your answer in your own log. You and your partner(s) may have different opinions. The important thing is not agreement, but the discussion. Please do not write identical answers even if you agree; although you are discussing the questions, you should still be formulating you own answers. Part 2 of this log is for you as an individual, and assignments in this section should be completed without discussing them with anyone else. You will have an opportunity to share your answers in class.
The back of each log page is blank in case there is not enough room on the front for you to write. Please feel free to write on the backs of pages or to insert more pages of your own.
Assignment 1 Date _____ Partners ________
Reading for this assignment: Prologue—the Section Break on page 8
Directions: A prologue in a novel is an introduction that comes before the first chapter, before the main action of the novel begins. Why do you think the author included a prologue in this novel? What are some images in the prologue that you think will be important later in the novel (that may recur, be symbolic, etc.)? Why do you think they will be important? What questions do you have about Clara or the direction the plot is taking at this point? Include any other thoughts you may have.
Assignment 2 Date _____Partners ________
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 1, Clara,” pages 3—18
Directions: The author chose to write in the first person point of view, with Clara telling her own story. Do you think this is a good choice for the book, and why or why not?
Assignment 3 Date _____Partners _______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 2, Clara,” pages 26—41
Directions: Motifs are recurring elements that have symbolic value in a story. Motifs can be ideas, objects, places, repeated phrases, or even a stock character, such as a clown. A motif is not a theme, but it can symbolize a concept, such as courage, that is a central idea behind a theme.
At the beginning of this section of text, night falls as Clara and her grandparents begin the bus ride into the mountains. As you read, notice the motifs that begin to emerge as images or objects that were introduced in the prologue recur. If you read very carefully, you may find another significant image that will become an important motif in the story. Reread these pages with a partner and look for motifs. Speculate about their significance. It doesn’t matter if you are correct, only that you begin to think about them.
Assignment 4 Date _____ Partners ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 3, Helena,” pages 42—52
Directions: Like Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3 is told from the first person point of view. However, Helena, Clara’s abuelita, is the narrator of this chapter. Why do you think the author chose to have Helena tell her own story rather than have Clara relate what her grandmother told her? What is the effect on the story (Helena’s story, the novel, or both)?
Assignment 5 Date ____ Partners ____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 6, Clara,” pages 92—117
Directions: As Pedro and Clara spend more time together, she discovers that he is bitter about his father and the men and friends who “go away and forget about Yucuyoo” (103). Then one day Pedro and Clara argue when he asks her if she understands what his songs mean. Clara asks him if they are about love, secretly thinking that “every song he’d sung had been a gift especially for“ her (111). When Pedro tells her that he is playing songs about “Love for justice and dignity,” she is hurt and embarrassed (110). Clara accuses Pedro of simply repeating Marcos’ words. Pedro is confused and tells Clara that it doesn’t matter whose words they are if they are true. Clara wants to hurt Pedro for “lecturing [her] about politics” when she thought he was telling her that he liked her, so she tells Pedro, “’You wish Marcos were your dad because you don’t have one anymore.’” Pedro looks as if he’s been slapped and replies, “’Your father’s no better, Clara. He ran away too.’”
Throughout this chapter, Pedro and Clara both express strong and unresolved feelings about their fathers. How do Pedro and Clara feel about their fathers? What about each relationship causes some feelings of internal conflict for the adolescent? Use examples from the story to support your answers.
Assignment 6 Date ____Partners ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 7, Helena, Winter—Spring 1938,” pages 118—131
Directions: Answer the following questions from the author’s website, using examples from the story to support your answers: Helena says you can tell a lot about a person just by touching them. What did she feel when she touched doña Three Teeth’s hand? How does that contrast with what doña Three Teeth looks like on the outside? How can you tell what a person’s like on the inside even if it’s very different from the outside appearance?
Assignment 7 Date ____ Partners _________
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 8, Clara,” pages 132—135
Directions: Answer the following questions from the author’s website, using examples from the story to support your answers: Helena gives Clara a limpia to clean her spirit. Describe this ritual. How did it affect Clara? How did her attitude change after the limpia? Have you ever done a ritual that changed your feelings or attitude? Can you think of rituals in our society that mark a change in a person’s life?
Assignment 8 Date _____Partners _____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 8, Clara,” Break on page 142—Break on page 146
1. Until running into each other at the market, Pedro and Clara have not spoken to each other since they argued in Chapter 6. How does the incident in this chapter add to your understanding of Pedro’s relationship with his father?
2. What does Clara mean when she says, “Maybe what people really wanted was to touch souls with other people, but the problem was that other things kept getting in the way” (147)?
Assignment 9 Date _____ Partners __________
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 9, Helena, Spring 1938,” pages 157—162
How does Uncle José feel about Helena’s return to the village? Why do you think he feels this way? You may need to reread parts of Chapter 5 to fully answer this question.
Assignment 10 Date _____Partners _______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 10, Clara,” pages 163—180
In this chapter, Clara learns more about why Pedro is so antagonistic toward the United States and what he perceives as its brilliant but soulless material distractions, such as “video cameras and CD players and cell phones.” Pedro tells Clara that she is different because she doesn’t “get distracted by those things” (166). Clara feels a little guilty, remembering the “CD cases and clothes strewn over [her] bedroom carpet, of [her] shiny stereo system and waist-high speakers, [her] closet full of shoes and gadgets that had seemed so important when [she] bought them at the mall. Not exactly jewels, but definitely distracting things, things without souls” (167).
Clara has not missed her things since she has been in Yucuyoo. How do you think she will feel about her things when she returns to Maryland? Do you think it is possible to not want things when they are a part of the everyday culture around you? Is it necessary to remove yourself to a different culture in order to change? How hard do you think it will be for Clara to make this transition? (Talk about these questions together. You do not have to answer all of them in writing.)
Assignment 11 Date _____ Partners ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 12, Clara,” pages 198—215
Look back through this chapter for references to a heron. How does Clara’s spirit animal help her save Pedro? How does she take on characteristics of her spirit animal to become stronger?
Assignment 12 Date ________ Partners ________
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 13, Helena, Winter 1939—Summer 1940” pages 198—215
By the end of this chapter, different characters and different parts of the story are beginning to connect. What connections did you make as you read this chapter, and what relationships do you think will still surface?
Assignment 13 Date _______________ Partners _____________________________
Reading for this assignment: “Epilogue,” page 253
Directions: Answer the following question from the author’s website, using examples from the story to support your answers: How do you think the title What the Moon Saw relates to the important ideas in the book?
Assignment 1 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 1, Clara,” pages 3—18
Directions: Answer all of the questions in complete sentences. You need to stay in the habit, as I have noticed that you think more deeply when you write in complete sentences. Also, do not use a pronoun as the subject of your first sentence. Pronouns require an antecedent; that is, a pronoun refers to a noun, which means a noun must be used first.
1. What does “Clara Luna” mean?
2. What did Clara’s father tell her when she asked him if he missed his parents?
3. Why is part of Clara relieved to stop asking her father about his parents?
4. Interpretive Question: After Clara has been caught sneaking out of the house at night and her grandmother’s letter arrives the next day, her father asks her, “You think it was a coincidence this letter came right after you did this thing last night?...My mother knows things. She knows things” (15). What do you think this reveals about Clara’s grandmother and about the kind of relationship Clara and her grandmother will have?
5. Draw a picture that you think resembles the one that Clara drew in her sketchbook (page 18). Be sure to use color.
Assignment 2 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 2, Clara,” pages 19—22
Directions: First, here is a refresher on similes and metaphors. Remember that a simile compares two unlike things using the words like or as, and a metaphor compares two unlike things without using the words like or as. The important thing about this type of figurative language is that it highlights a quality or characteristic that the two things share and shows them in a new or interesting light. An example of a metaphor in this part of the text is, “Trees were what my grandparents made me think of when I saw them at the airport. Brown tree trunks, worn by the wind and sun and rain, solid and tough, scarred and callused.” The author then continues the comparison with a simile. “Their skin look rough as bark, and their feet, in sandals, as leathery as Dad’s old boots” (19).
In these pages, the author paints a vivid portrait of Clara’s grandparents using similes and metaphors. Which examples of figurative language especially strike you and why? Discuss at least three examples.
Assignment 3 Date _____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 2, Clara,” pages 22—41
Directions: Answer all questions in complete sentences. Also, do not use a pronoun as the subject of the first sentence. Pronouns should only be used to refer to nouns.
1. What is the Mixteco language?
2. What does “Yucuyoo” mean?
3. Who is Loro?
Assignment 4 Date _______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 3, Helena, Summer 1934,” pages 42—52
Directions: Answer all questions in complete sentences. Also, do not use a pronoun as the subject of the first sentence.
1. What is the relationship between Helena and Clara?
2. What is the relationship between Helena and Ta’nu?
3. What is a soul flight, and why does Helena risk one, even though it is dangerous?
4. What is Helena’s spirit animal?
5. If you had a spirit animal, what do you think it would be, and why?
Assignment 5 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 4, Clara,” pages 53—71
Directions: As Clara explores the area around Yucuyoo, she begins making a map of it. She reflects, “What I love about making maps is that they tell you what to notice. My map showed landmarks like the high rock face, with its scars and wrinkles, crisscrossed with cracks and vines. It showed a fallen tree covered in moss, like a woman bent over the path with their leaves dangling in an emerald arch. You know, when I draw these kinds of things, I notice them more the next time I pass by. I almost feel like waving at them, as though we’re friends” (60). If you had a map, what would you want it to tell you to notice? Draw a map on the back of this page that reflects what you want to notice about your physical life. It can cover as big or small of a geographical area as you want it to, and it doesn’t have to be to a realistic scale. In the space below, describe some important features of your map.
Assignment 6 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 5, Helena, Summer 1935—Fall 1937,” pages 72—91
Directions: Answer the following questions using complete sentences.
1. Why does Helena finally tell Ta’nu that she will go to Oaxaca City?
2. What does the saying “We all eat from the same tortilla” mean?
Are you aware of any similar cultural or religious traditions?
3. How old is Helena when she begins work as a maid in the López household?
4. Just when Helena begins to feel despair and that all she “wanted to do was go back to sleep and never wake up,” Loro cried out, “¡Ánimo, Helena!” At this, Helena “stood up, and started working.” “You see,” she later tells Clara, “how important it is to have one true friend in the world? Later I learned that ánimo also means soul. Spirit. And really, Loro had seen my spirit empty of hope, slipping away into the shadows. He called to it, called to me, and yes, my spirit stayed. For that, I always thank him” (88).
Is there an animal that you feel very close to? If so, write about that animal.
Assignment 7 Date _____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 6, Clara,” pages 92—99
Directions: When Clara’s mom and dad were falling in love, he asked her how her parents felt about him being an immigrant, at which point “…she looked him straight in the eyes and said, without a pause, ‘They admire you. My ancestors came from other countries too. France and Norway and Wales. Most Americans have immigrant roots, you know’” (99).
What countries did your ancestors emigrate from, and how long ago did they immigrate to the United States? Do you have any Native American ancestry? Do you know why they came to the United States, and where they originally settled?
After you write this part, please feel free to share it with the class.
Assignment 8 Date _______________
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 6, Clara,” pages 100—107
Directions: Clara dreams that she hears Pedro’s music on the other side of a wall but that she can’t get over the wall. When she recounts the dream to Pedro, he tells her that she should have flown over the wall, because “You can do anything” in dreams (107). An image of kissing Pedro flashes through Clara’s mind, and she is shocked. Pedro breaks all the rules of who would be cool at home in Walnut Hill. Then Clara realizes, “I wasn’t in Walnut Hill. I was here. Walnut Hill had its own set of rules. But those rules were flimsy and didn’t make sense and I didn’t have to follow them, did I?” (107)
What rules in life don’t make sense to you? Are there any rules, especially about how kids are “supposed” to behave, that you would like to get rid of?
Assignment 9 Date _____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 8, Clara,” pages 132—Break on page 142
Unlike Clara’s grandmother, who tells her own story, Clara’s grandfather, Abuelo, does not tell his own story. Rather, we learn about him through Clara’s first-person narrative. This is the first time in the story that Clara has spent a significant amount of time with just her grandfather. What does Clara learn about the kind of person her grandfather is? How is he similar to and different from Clara’s Abuelita? What does Clara learn about her father?
Assignment 10 Date _____
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 9, Helena, Spring 1938,” pages 149—162
Directions: Answer the following questions using complete sentences.
1. Why does Helena decide to enter Silvia’s dreams and how does she do it?
2. Why does Ta’nu believe it is his time to die?
Assignment 11 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 10, Clara,” pages 163—180
Many important events happen in this chapter. List them.
Now write a chapter summary using these events. Remember that people’s reactions are part of a summary.
Assignment 12 Date ______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 11, Helena, Spring 1938—Summer 1939,” pages 181—197
Helena massages don Valerio’s leg, gives him blankets and moves him to shelter, and goes to get hay and water for his horse. She realizes that she is helping a man who plans to arrest her and throw her in prison, but that she has no choice. She muses, “I am a healer. This was a decision I’d made years earlier, when I drank from the sweet cup of light. When I promised to use my powers for good. So you see, I had to help the man” (193—194).
It turns out that helping don Valerio saves Helena from the fate of prison. This is not the first time that keeping her vow to only help others has ended up helping Helena, as well. Think back over the story and record times when either holding back from taking revenge or when helping someone who does not seem to deserve help has ended up helping Helena.
Assignment 13 Date _______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 12, Clara,” pages 198—180 and “Chapter 14, Clara,” pages 237—249
New symbols have been introduced and original symbols have been reinforced since the prologue and Chapter 2. Once introduced, they tend to become a motif and recur throughout the book. What are some new symbols that have been introduced? What do you think they mean? What possible themes do they point to?
If you aren’t sure, reread closely for images that Clara notices—and that the author takes the time to develop—and for images that repeat.
Assignment 14 Date _______
Reading for this assignment: “Chapter 14, Clara,” pages 250—252. You will also need to refer to Chapter 6.
Clara’s and Pedro’s feelings for their fathers have become clearer and less conflicted for them over the summer. How have their feelings about their fathers changed, and how did knowing each other help make these changes possible? What else influenced Clara’s changes toward her father? First, make a graphic organizer (chart) to plan your writing, and include the following information. Then, write out your response in paragraphs.
- Pedro’s feelings about his father at the beginning of the summer
- Pedro’s feelings about his father at the end of the summer
- Clara’s influence
- Clara’s feelings about her father at the beginning of the summer
- Clara’s feelings about her father at the end of the summer
- Pedro’s influence
- Other influences (grandmother, grandfather, Yucuyoo)
Reading Log Copyright Beth Knees. May be reproduced for non-profit educational purposes if credit is given.