more can life hold, than to know that because of your story,
somebody out there has decided to read again!”—Caroline
Q: Many of your books are set in suburban Connecticut.
This one features New York City as its prime location. Why did
you decide to change your location and actually make New York
City a character?
A: When I had an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
(right where Mitty lives), I fell in love with the city. I loved
everything–the people, the parks, the libraries, the concerts,
the walking, the languages being spoken. Since I raised my three
children in the suburbs, I kept wondering what it is like to grow
up in an apartment building
in New York. I wanted to write a book in which New York City was
just as important a character as the hero, because that’s
the way you feel when you live in New York–New York is your
constant companion, your antagonist, your hope.
Q: You present your main character as a slacker and a
privileged boy who gets away with things by using his charm,
and yet readers
like him–and it seems you do as well. Why did you create
such a character?
A: It’s so appealing to lie around and do nothing much. In
fact, kids often revel in doing nothing much and are admired for
it and might even brag about it. But in the end, it’s what
you do that counts. Will you stand up and do good things when it
matters, or hang around and do nothing? This is
Q: America is a changed nation post-9/11. Do you believe there
are good guys and bad guys?
A: The most important things in life are to decide what you stand
for and then to stand up for it. Both are difficult. I believe
kids know from toddlerhood what is right and what is wrong, what
is fair and what is unfair,what is good and what is bad.The world
around us has different ideas. Don’t let go of what you knew
in kindergarten: the good guys need to continue being good and
help people threatened by a bad guy, whether that’s a bully
on the playground or a bully on another continent.
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1. In Chapter One, Mitty learns that the term paper assigned
by his biology teacher, Mr. Lynch, requires a bibliography that
includes at least four physical books, so that students’ research
is not done exclusively online. Discuss how the Internet is as
important as any character in this novel.
2. Mitty is a likeable slacker. How do his relationships with
his friends, the people in his neighborhood, and his family change
as the story develops? How does Mitty himself change? Discuss Mitty’s
feelings about his “hometown,” New York City. How does
where you live change your view of the world?
3. Except for laboratory samples, variola major, a killer virus,
has been eliminated by scientists.How can people feel safe despite
the threat of bioterrorism? How involved should government become
with scientific research?
4. Mitchell John Blake and Olivia Clark are classmates and friends,
yet each wants more from their friendship. How do Mitty and Olivia
signal their interest to each other? Do male and female approaches
to romantic involvement differ? How?
here for more questions.