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Photo 2003 ©
Jane Feldman

Code Orange
May 2007

Caroline B. Cooney

“What more can life hold, than to know that because of your story, somebody out there has decided to read again!”—Caroline B. Cooney

Welcome to the Readers Circle Newsletter! Read on to find out more about Caroline B. Cooney, author of Code Orange, and visit Readers-Circle.com for the latest additions to Circle!

A Conversation with Caroline B. Cooney about Code Orange

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 Mitty’s test.

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.

To read more, click here.

Book Group Discussion Questions for Code Orange

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?

Click here for more questions.

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