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Discussion and Activity Guides

SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS

Some relevant topics: Addiction, weight issues, bullying, art history, Latin and French roots for English words.

Discussion questions:

  1. SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS follows Mellie as she matures from a kindergartener to an eighth grader. Other than just growing up, how has her character changed by the end of the book?
  2. Mellie’s parents are very important to her. How does her relationship with them change over the course of the book?
  3. What’s your first impression of Durindana? Do your feelings about her change as you get to know her? How and why? What about some of the other Parvi: Fidius, for example, or Lady Noctua?
  4. Fidius had some bad experiences before he met Mellie. How did they affect him?
  5. How does the Magica Artificia affect the Parvi physically? How about mentally?
  6. If Mellie drank the elixir, what would she see about herself? How about Timmo? What do you think Mellie’s grandfather saw?
  7. Mellie makes a big point of saying she and her parents are “round.” What do her parents—especially her mother—seem to think about their weight and Mellie’s?
  8. Almost everybody in this book has a substance or an attitude they don’t want to give up. You might almost say they were addicted, for better or worse. What are the Parvi addicted to? What about Mellie and her family? Timmo and his family?

Activities:

fairy house photo

Building fairy houses is a popular activity on Maine islands. Here’s a spur-of-the-moment one I made on Bear Island, using a bank of moss and the materials within reach.

fairy house photo

Here’s a free-standing fairy house somebody built on Maine’s Monhegan Island.

  1. Build fairy houses like Durindana’s at the end of the book. You can build them indoors or—better yet—out in the woods, using natural materials. Find a tree trunk, a hole in a bank of moss, a small boulder—anything that might attract a fairy who needs shelter from the elements. Use acorns, shells, bark, pebbles or anything you can find to shore it up and decorate it.
    Fairy houses crop up a lot in New England. Some of the most famous are built by visiting children on Monhegan and Mackworth Islands off the coast of Maine. I ran into the same tradition during a stay on another Maine island. For more ideas, check out FAIRY HOUSES OF THE MAINE COAST by Maureen Heffernan, executive director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, or the FAIRY HOUSES books by Tracey Kane.
  2. Find ten Latin words in the book that sound like English. In a dictionary or on-line, research what that word meant to the Romans, and the path it took to become an English word.
  3. Choose a painting from the past and recreate it as a live tableau, the way Mellie does with The Glass of Absinthe and Venus at the Mirror. (To see some of the paintings Mellie mentions in the book, click here.)