My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Primrose’s parents both disappear at sea in the middle of a vicious storm, she is forced into a new life which includes a new home, new friends, new conflicts and adventures, new insights, and new recipes. It really does take a village in this case to take care of 11-year old Primrose. Some of the townspeople thinkthey know best, like the snobbish and socially awkward school counselor Miss Honeycut. While others truly are just what Primrose needs to keep her hope alive, like her impulsive Uncle Jack, and Kate Bowzer, the owner of the local restaurant where all the food is served on a waffle. But the true joy in this story is how Primrose and her hope is just what the town, and all of us, need to approach the world and all of its challenges with courage, wit, kindness, fun, and love.
I read this book for a fourth time recently for book club. I already reviewed this book here and included some book club discussion questions in that review. But reading the book this time I thought about more from an elementary school teaching perspective and thought about how I would use it as a read-aloud or small group book. Here are some questions and activities I came up with for using Everything on a Waffle in the classroom.
Read aloud or small group questions:
These can be found in a worksheet format here.
1. How would feel if you were Primrose and both your parents had just disappeared? Does Primrose seem upset?
2. How would you describe Miss Perfidy? Do you think Primrose likes her? How do you know?
3. Do you like Miss Honeycut so far? How does Miss Honeycut feel about Uncle Jack? How do you know?
4. Why is her mother’s memo pad so important to Primrose? How do you know it is important to her?
5. Do you think Uncle Jack will be a good guardian for Primrose? Why or why not?
6. Why do the girls at school tease Primrose?
7. The townspeople think Primrose’s mother made a reckless and bad decision to go after her husband. What does Miss Bowzer think about it? With whom do you agree?
8. What kinds of things have you had on waffles? Would you want to try any of things from the Girl on the Red Swing’s menu?
9. What does it mean to be a pacifist?
10. Why is Miss Honeycut taking such an interest in Primrose? Have you ever known anyone like Miss Honeycut?
11. What do you think of Uncle Jack’s job as a developer? How do the people of Coal Harbor feel about it? What does it mean to be a developer?
12. Why is Primrose writing down all of these recipes? How do you think she chooses the recipes she wants to write?
13. Do you think Primrose’s parents are dead? Why or Why not?
14. What does Primrose mean when she says, “Sometimes you get tempted to make something wonderful even better but in doing so you lose what was so wonderful to being with.”
15. Do you think Uncle Jack could have had a special reason for getting Primrose a dog?
16. Do you think there are really ghosts playing hockey? What else could it be?
17. Why did Lena go so crazy over boiled potatoes? What does that have to do with Primrose helping Uncle Jack?
18. Why doesn’t Miss Bowzer like Uncle Jack?
19. Have you ever had an experience like Miss Bowzer’s with the whaling ship?
20. What is happening to Miss Perfidy’s memory?
21. Why do you think Primrose’s sweaters are so important to her? What do you think happened to them?
22. Chapter 8 is called “I lose a toe.” How do you predict that will happen?
23. What does Primrose mean about Miss Honeycut’s relationship with her sister when she says, “THAT’S the type of thing I’m talking about!”
24. Why does Miss Honeycut tell such long and uninteresting stories over and over?
25. How would you feel if some many people didn’t believe you, like how the townspeople don’t believe Primrose when she says her parents are coming back or that she didn’t try to kill herself?
26. Have you ever felt an unexplainable joy or peace like Primrose at the end of chapter 8?
27. Why does Primrose keep talking about a solarium?
28. How do you think Primrose feels about the boys getting another goalie?
29. What does Miss Honeycut think about Primrose’s behavior in the rain and also of her cutting the guinea pig’s hair?
30. Why does Uncle Jack not like The Girl on the Red Swing?
31. Why does Uncle Jack start talking to Miss Honeycut about a new townhome in the restaurant?
32. Why does Uncle Jack tell Primrose about the boys who catch fish and sell them?
33. How do you think Uncle Jack’s idea lands Primrose in a foster home?
34. Chapter 12 is called “I lose another digit.” What is a “digit?” Which one do you think Primrose loses? How do you think it happens?
35. What do you think of Evie and Bert? How would you describe them?
36. In this chapter Primrose admits to crying for the first time. Why does she cry now and not at any other time in the book?
37. Are there “good guys” and “bad guys” in this book? If so, who are the good and who are the bad?
38. How is Uncle Jack a hero? Why are the townspeople angry with him?
39. Why does Miss Bowzer cut the vegetables into small bits “BAM BAM BAM” whenever Primrose mentions Miss Honeycut’s name?
40. How do Evie and Bert feel about the fire?
41. How does Miss Perfidy dying in the middle of Primrose’s sentence relate to the rest of the book?
42. What of your predictions turned out to be correct?
43. Were the characters happy in the end? Why or why not?
44. Have you ever known something in your heart without knowing why?
45. Which of the recipes in the book would you want to try?
46. What kind of “important things” happen in the “smallest places?”
1. Have a waffle party. Make the recipe from the book or bring in Eggo waffles and a variety of toppings to try.
2. As a science project try making boiled potatoes or cinnamon rolls and experiment with yeast.
3. Study seals and Orcas. Study about tourism in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Make travel brochures.
4. Make a travel brochure as as a book report. Have a section for characters, events, recipes, and the book’s theme.
5. Make a menu for The Girl on the Red Swing. Come up with as many interesting waffle combinations as possible.
6. Research development in your own city or town. Has there been opposition like in Coal Harbor? Come up with a plan that might make both sides of the issue happy.