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Walk Two Moons

by Sharon Creech

The Book Club Novel Guide outlines a complete theme-based unit with Book Club lesson plans focusing on Walk Two Moons.

Buy the Novel Buy the Book Club Novel Guide

Below you will find a synopsis, further reading materials, discussion topics, and reviews that you might find useful during your teaching of Walk Two Moons.

A Synopsis

Salamanca Tree Hiddle and her father moved to the suburban town of Euclid, Ohio, about a year ago. Sal misses her family’s farm in Bybanks, Kentucky, and more than that she misses her mother. Momma left, without explanation, on a trip across the country while they were still living in Bybanks. After getting postcards from her for several days, Sal and her father learned that she had died in a tragic accident. Sal doesn’t understand her father’s desire to move to Ohio and pursue a friendship with a woman named Margaret Cadaver. But on the first day in her new home she meets Phoebe Winterbottom, a girl her own age who becomes a source of entertainment, adventure, annoyance, friendship—and ultimately healing.

When the novel begins, Sal has joined her grandparents on a six-day trip to Idaho on the same route her mother took. To pass the time, Sal tells her grandparents about the previous year’s outrageous adventures with Phoebe. Phoebe’s story begins with poetic messages left on her family’s front steps and the appearance of a mysterious stranger. Then Phoebe’s mother disappears. Phoebe becomes convinced that her mother was kidnapped. Eventually, Phoebe’s mother returns to reveal a surprising secret—she has a son, born before her marriage to Mr. Winterbottom.

As Sal tells Phoebe’s story, she finds that it reflects her own story in many ways. Her journey with her grandparents leads her to a long-overdue realization that her mother will never return. Sal visits the site of the accident and her mother’s grave. She begins to allow herself to heal.

Further Reading and Links

The following books and sites can be used to support and enrich the Book Club unit for Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

About the Author and the Novel

  • Sharon Creech — The author's official website provides a biography, pictures, interviews, and a list of her books.
  • Interview with Sharon Creech — The author discusses her books Walk Two Moons and Chasing Redbird.
  • Sharon Creech — A brief biography of the author, provided by the HarperCollins Publisher site. This site also offers an answer question-section.
  • Scholastic — Read more about the author, including an interview about her writing, and a book list.
  • The Book Smugglers — See what others thought about the book. This site provides a review of the book with a comment section below.

Setting of the Novel

  • North American Languages — This page provides links to many online dictionaries that students can use to translate English words and phrases into various American Indian languages.
  • Lewiston, Idaho — The homepage of the city provides plenty of information including pictures.
  • Kentucky — Whereas Bybanks, Kentucky is a fictional town here are some basic information about Kentucky the state including its nickname.
  • Euclid, Ohio — Find some information about Euclid, Ohio including history, statistics, and pictures.
  • Roadtrip America — Find some information about road trips across the U.S. and plan your own fun trip with the help of maps, cost calculators, and trip advisers. Also check out the Road Fun section which provides pictures, games, and silly things seen along the highways.
  • Kids Health — This article talks about Helping Your Child Deal With Death.

Themes and Things Mentioned in the Novel

Theme-Related Song Lyrics

  • "Journey to the Past" — A song by Aaliyah, to listen to the song click here.
  • "Roll Down the River" — A Song by Harry Chapin.
  • "Parents Are People" — Written by the artist Carol Hall, if you play an instrument this version offers the chords as well.
  • "A Song for Mama" — Read the lyrics to the song by Boyz II Men.
  • "Lean on Me" — The lyrics to the song by Bill Withers. If you're interested in listening to part of the song check this site.
  • "You've Got a Friend in Me" — This song is by Randy Newman. The song was used in the intro for the first Toy Story by Pixar, watch a brief clip and listen to the song here.
  • "Circle of Life" — Originally, the music was created by Elton John, the lyrics were written by Tim Rice and the song was performed by Carmen Twillie. It was produced for the Disney movie the The Lion King. Watch a clip of the movie and listen to the song.
  • "Dance with My Father" — A song by Luther Vandross.

Big Theme Questions

How do different kinds of journeys help us grow?

How, and to what extent, does our family shape who we are?

How can sharing similar experiences deepen a friendship?

What are some different ways that people might react to being separated from a loved one?

What things in life are lasting or permanent? What things change? Can something be both lasting and changeable?

Outline of Lesson Plan | Discussion Topics | Writing Prompts

The following section can be used to get discussions started in your classroom. It is based on the Lesson Plan within the Book Club Novel Guide for Walk Two Moons. The Lesson Plan includes blackline masters for the students that support the writing prompts. The writing prompts provided are meant as suggestions only. As students become more comfortable with the Book Club format, they will certainly have ideas and questions that go beyond the prompts. Consider giving students “free choice” as a log option. Book Club Reading Logs help students respond to literature and organize ideas as they participate in Book Club.

Chapters 1–6 | Literary Elements: Story Structure; Character Development

  • What two stories are going to be told in Walk Two Moons? How does the author introduce these two stories? Why might the author want to put these stories together in one novel?
  • What things frighten you? Do you consider yourself to be a brave person? Describe a situation in which you or someone you know did something brave. How does this situation compare with Sal’s handling of the spider?
  • Have you ever been on a long car trip? If so, describe it. Where were you going, and with whom did you travel? How did you feel at the beginning, middle, and end of the trip?

Chapters 7–9 | Language Conventions: Elements of a Good Book Club Discussion

  • What do you think of Gram and Gramps? Do they remind you of anyone you know?
  • Phoebe’s mother said, “You can never be too careful.” Do you agree with this? Why?
  • Who was the young man who visited Phoebe’s house? Do you think he seemed like a lunatic?
  • “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” What does this message mean?

Chapters 10–11 | Literary Elements: Figurative Language

  • Choose an example of figurative language from the book. What picture does this figure of speech create in your mind? Draw this picture.
  • Describe a time when you had feelings of panic similar to the ones Sal has when she cannot find Gram.
  • What are you learning about Sal’s personality through the actions and descriptions of other characters?

Chapters 12–13 | Comprehension: American Indian Culture

  • What do you think about the pipe that Sal shares with her grandparents? How do you feel about this tradition? Would you have tried the pipe if you were in Sal’s position?
  • Have you ever had a teacher like Mr. Birkway? Why did he have the students write a summer journal? Do you think he should read them?
  • How does the author use foreshadowing at the end of Chapter 13 in regard to the journals?

Chapters 14–16 | Language Conventions: Assessing Log Entries

  • Why do you think Sal is the only one to notice that Mrs. Winterbottom seems sad?
  • What is your impression of the boy who takes Gramps’s wallet and then helps Gram on the way to the hospital?
  • Have you ever been in an emergency situation like Gram’s? Were you the person who needed help, or did you have to help someone else? Explain what happened and how you felt throughout the experience.

Chapters 17–19 | Literary Elements: Characterization

  • What things are important “in the course of a lifetime”? What things may seem important but really are not? Make a list of both kinds of things.
  • Chapter 18 is called “The Good Man.” What detail from the chapter provides the best proof that Sal’s father is a good person? Why?
  • Were Phoebe and Sal right to run away from the “lunatic”? Do you think this young man is a matter for the police?

Chapters 20–22 | Response to Literature: Soul Drawings

  • Write about the ways in which Phoebe’s story is similar to Sal’s story.
  • Why is it significant that Sal and Ben’s soul drawings are identical?

Chapters 23–24 | Literary Elements: Motifs

  • What recurring ideas, or motifs, did you find in today’s reading? How do they connect with earlier parts of the story?
  • Why do you think Sal’s whispers are now saying, “Slow down, slow, slow, slow”?
  • Sal often thinks about her mother in flashbacks. Why did the author write the story this way? What triggers Sal’s flashback in Chapter 23?
  • Have you ever felt like the “birds of sadness” were flying around your head? Write about this experience.

Chapters 25–27 | Literary Elements: Dynamic and Static Characters

  • Draw a picture that reflects some part of today’s reading.
  • Has Phoebe changed since the beginning of the story? Has Sal changed? Explain some ways in which these characters have changed or stayed the same.
  • How do you feel about Phoebe’s behavior in Chapters 25–27? Does it remind you of any experiences from your own life?
  • What important realization does Sal have at the end of Chapter 27?

Chapters 28–30 | Comprehension: Making Predictions

  • What are the whispers that Sal keeps hearing? Why is it important to her to arrive in Lewiston on her mother’s birthday? Do you think they’ll make it in time?
  • Do you agree with Sal that “it isn’t normal to die”? Why or why not?
  • Make some predictions about what will happen next in the story. Can you predict how the story will end?

Chapters 31–32 | Comprehension: Making Inferences

  • How do you feel about the way Mr. Birkway handled student journal writing? How would you feel if a teacher read aloud some of your personal writing, without your permission?
  • Make some inferences about Mr. Birkway’s behavior with the journals. What does he hope to accomplish by sharing them? Is he trying to be mean or cruel? Give evidence to support your inferences.
  • What do you think the lunatic has to do with Phoebe’s story? Why was he in the picture with Sergeant Bickle? Predict what you think will happen next with this character.

Chapters 33–35 | Response to Literature: Exploring Themes

  • Write about one of the themes in Walk Two Moons. What parts of the novel suggest this theme? Does the theme help you understand something about real life?
  • What new perspective do Sal and Phoebe gain on the Birkway family in Chapter 33?
  • What did you think of Gram’s reaction to Old Faithful? Have you ever visited Old Faithful? If you have, describe the experience for those who haven’t seen it. If you haven’t, would you like to visit now that you’ve read about it?

Chapters 36–39 | Literary Elements: Point of View

  • Do you think Sal was the best choice to be the narrator of this story? Why?
  • Why do you think Phoebe reacted the way she did when she first learned that her mother was coming back home?
  • Why did the author choose to title this book Walk Two Moons?

Chapters 40–44 | Response to Literature: Book Critique

  • What does the name Blackberry symbolize for Sal?
  • Would you have had the courage to drive four hours by yourself in Sal’s situation? Why do you think Gramps allowed her to drive herself? Did he use good judgment?
  • Why do you think the author used the “layered story” technique for Walk Two Moons? What similarities did you see between the two stories?

Planet Book Club's Review

We would like to introduce Planet Book Club's student book reviewers: Raoul and Phoebe.

Note to Our Readers: You will notice that the book gets two reviewers. Why? Because we believe two opinions are generally more helpful than one opinion. Remember that people have completely unique sets of experiences that shape how they think and feel about things. Something else to keep in mind: Even perfectly pleasant human beings can have cranky days, lazy days, and confused days. Let's face it—we can't be thoughtful, clear-headed, and fair every moment of our lives. Our reviewers, though friendly and occasionally brilliant, are only human. So, to be fair to you and to each book, we always give two points of view. That way, if one reviewer is having a bad day and seems completely out to lunch, you can perhaps connect with the other reviewer. Got it? Good.

Knowing something about the reviewers might help you to understand their opinions. So, let's get to know them:

Planet Book Club Reviewer Raoul

I'm Raoul, and I'm your worst nightmare. Just kidding! Actually, I hope to be a politician one day. I'm really good at juggling tasks and pretending to be in control, I can act friendly toward most people, and I'm sort of photogenic, which means I look awesome in photographs. In my free time I like to play clarinet in our school jazz band, go bowling, follow the stock market, and listen to music. That's what I have to say about Walk Two Moons...

Raoul: The book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech opens with the quotation, "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins." No, Creech's book is not about being open to different styles of footwear. It's about trying to understand people. The quotation suggests that in order to truly understand a person, you must first think about what it is like to be that person. To put it simply, everyone has a story. Even that annoying kid who insists on belching over and over again in the cafeteria has a story. Maybe he isn't getting enough attention. Maybe he thinks being a clown is the only way to get friends. Maybe he genuinely has a digestive disorder. My point, and Creech's point, is that if we knew a bit more about the people around us, we might be more understanding of one another.

"So," you say, "what if I'm not interested in understanding people? What if I just want to be entertained?" Well, I didn't say Walk Two Moons wasn't entertaining as well as wise. It has suspense. Its characters are wonderful, interesting people. It also happens to be two great stories in one. Let me explain: Salamanca (Sal) Tree Hiddle is a thirteen-year-old girl on a special road trip with her grandparents. While cramped in a car for six days, Sal passes the time by telling her grandparents what she calls "an extensively strange story"—the story of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom. You see, this trip follows a difficult year for Sal—one filled with painful life changes. Phoebe was a close, entertaining, but challenging friend who was an important part of her life during this difficult time. As you begin reading, you might assume that the novel is mainly about Phoebe. However, through the story of Phoebe, readers gradually learn more and more about Sal's life. It turns out that Sal's story—a story about love, relationships, and learning to cope with life changes—is just as interesting and powerful as Phoebe's story.

I don't want to give away too much information about the twists and turns the plot of this novel takes. But I will tell you one thing. As you begin the book, think about the word journey. This novel is about the journeys we can take in a car or by train, and it is also about the more personal, complicated journeys we take in life. The journeys in this book will sometimes make you sad and sometimes make you laugh, and they will always encourage you to think.

Planet Book Club Reviewer Phoebe

Greetings. This is Phoebe. My sign is Leo, my personal planet is Jupiter, my favorite color is purple, my lucky number is 3, and I was born in the year of the dragon. In my free time I work with white socks—decorating them and selling them to friends and family. I also like to sit beside the cool rock fountain I got at the mall last year and listen to music. I love English, math, and art and hope to be a massage therapist or a clothing designer one day. Here is what I think about the book...

Phoebe: I'll say right off the bat—I'm sometimes not great at figuring out what books mean. I have a really strong feeling from this book, though. It talks about one of my interests—astrology. No, I mean astronomy. You know—stars and planets and comets and stuff. First, let's talk about moons. Moons are heavenly bodies that circle planets. Earth has one moon—the one we see at night. Some planets have more than one moon. Now, think about the quotation that opens the novel Walk Two Moons: "Don't judge a man until you've walked on two moons wearing moccasins." This quotation really captures the magic of space travel. It is saying that everyone should have an interest in exploring outer space. By saying that people should walk on two moons, Creech must be saying that people should explore other planets, because Earth has only one moon. Get it? Not only that—people shouldn't have big, bulky boots between their feet and the moons they visit. No—they should wear soft moccasins so that they can truly experience every step they take. Don't think I don't see the symbolism in the quotation. I know it isn't talking just about men - it's talking about women, too. Maybe even children and pets as well. This book gives us hope that someday we will all be in space. I've been thinking about it so much, I feel I'm practically there already.