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Tangerine

by Edward Bloor

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

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 Tangerine.

A Synopsis

Paul Fisher and his family relocate from Houston, Texas, to Tangerine, Florida. Family life focuses on the high school football career of Paul’s older brother—the “Erik Fisher Football Dream.” Erik is a hero in his parents’ eyes, but Paul wishes he could make his parents see the true Erik.

Because of a mysterious eye injury, Paul wears thick glasses. Poor eyesight, however, does not keep Paul from being an ace soccer goalie at his new school. For a short while, all appears well in Tangerine. Then a series of events strike: lightning rekindles smoky, underground muck fires; lightning hits the same football practice field every day, killing a young player; Paul is kicked off the school soccer team because of his visual disability; and a sinkhole devours a field of portable classrooms.

Paul transfers to Tangerine Middle School, which has a tough reputation. There, Paul forms strong friendships with fellow students and soccer players. While working on a school project, Paul meets Theresa and Tino Cruz’s older brother, Luis, who has developed a new variety of citrus. Paul joins Luis and others in saving the citrus grove from a deadly freeze. In Luis Cruz and Betty Bright, Paul’s soccer coach, Paul finds true leadership and the meaning of integrity. Luis’s sudden death hits Paul hard. He begins to see everything clearly: Erik’s cruel role in his eye injury, his parents’ lies about his eye injury, and Erik’s involvement in Luis’s death. With newfound courage, Paul opens everyone’s eyes to the truth.

Further Reading and Links

The following sites can be used to support and enrich the Book Club unit for Tangerine by Edward Bloor.

About the Author and the Book

  • Edward Bloor — The official site of the author provides a biography, a photo gallery, news, and other information.
  • Edward Bloor Interview — Read an interview with the author, furthermore the site features a biography, bibliography, and other information.
  • Interview with Edward Bloor — The Page 15 site provides an interview with the author about his childhood, life, and writing.
  • Common Sense Media — This review of the book gives it 4 out of 5 stars. You can read details and user reviews about the book.

Explore the Novel's Setting

  • Tangerine, Florida — Provides basic facts and statistics about the town where Edward Bloor's story is set
  • History of Fire in the Everglades — The National Park Service explains the unique ecology of water and fire in the Florida Everglades.
  • Ecosystems of South Florida — This page from the U.S. Geological Survey gives an overview of southern Florida ecosystems, including a mention of slow-burning muck fires.
  • Lakewood, Florida — A profile of one community's experience with and response to a large-scale muck fire. This community is similar to the development in which Paul and his family live.
  • Sinkholes — This page describes three kinds of sinkholes with helpful illustrations, as well as causes, warning signs, and related links.
  • Sinkhole at Winter Park, Florida — Features a large, dramatic photograph of a sinkhole at Winter Park, Florida from May 9, 1981. The page also includes aerial photographs of sinkholes along with brief explanations.
  • Grafting or Budding Citrus Trees — Shows how a scion is grafted onto a rootstock, with step-by-step instructions and diagrams

Analyze the Role of Sports in Society

  • Ducksters Sports — Learn about the two sport activities from the book Football and Soccer. Besides the overview and the site provides links to learn more.
  • Richard E. Lapchick — Read a biography about the author of Sport in society: equal opportunity or business as usual? and founder of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. Also learn more about the program.
  • The Chalk Lines — This site is a compilation of Charles Loyd McIntosh's articles on issues in sports and society.

Read Theme-Related Literature

Big Theme Questions

Why do people sometimes hide the truth?

What effects can secrets and lies have on people’s lives? Is a lie ever justified?

What is power? How do people gain and hold on to power?

What characteristics or qualities describe a “right kind” of hero and a “wrong kind” of hero?

What elements help create healthy relationships between friends and within a family?

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 Tangerine. 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.


Prologue through “Saturday, August 19, later”
Language Conventions: Responding to Tangerine

  • What words would you use to describe Paul? What words would you use to describe Erik?
  • What parts of the reading made you laugh? Record at least two examples of humor.
  • What parts of the reading created suspense or raised questions in your mind?
  • How does Paul feel about the “Erik Fisher Football Dream”?

“Monday, August 21” through “Friday, September 1”
Literary Elements: Point of View; Characterization

  • Do you believe the story about how Paul’s eyes were damaged? Why or why not?
  • Describe how different members of the Fisher family relate to each other. What conflicts do you predict will occur in the family?
  • Write about the techniques the author uses to characterize each member of the Fisher family.

“Tuesday, September 5” through “Friday, September 8”
Literary Elements: Plot

  • What new traits does the author reveal about Paul and his mother, father, and brother?
  • How did you feel about Erik and Arthur’s behavior after Mike’s death?
  • Identify places in the text where suspense or tension builds.

“Friday, September 8, later” through “Monday, September 11, later”
Literary Elements: Conflict

  • Give examples of internal and external conflicts in today’s reading.
  • What connection does Paul feel with the “Boy Who Never Grew”?
  • List examples of Paul’s humor that express such emotions as anger, frustration, pain, and self-doubt.

“Tuesday, September 12” through “Friday, September 15”
Language Conventions: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Text

  • Summarize Paul’s thoughts and feelings about his mother, father, and brother. Give examples from the book to support your summaries.
  • Are the accusations Paul makes fair and accurate? Why?
  • Respond to Part 1 of the story in a personal way. How is this novel making you think about your own personal struggles and growth?

“Monday, September 18” through “Wednesday, September 20”
Comprehension: Comparison and Contrast

  • Compare and contrast Lake Windsor Middle School and Tangerine Middle School.
  • Describe ways in which you think Paul is changing. Support your response with examples.
  • Respond in a personal way to Paul’s statement: “I can’t describe how great it feels to have another chance.”

“Friday, September 22” through “Tuesday, September 26, later”
Comprehension: Connecting to Life

  • When do you think Paul first feels like a War Eagle? Explain your response.
  • Paul says the War Eagles play soccer “like a team.” What does he mean by this? Describe what makes a good team.
  • What, if anything, do you predict will happen as a result of Erik’s humiliation on the football field?

“Wednesday, September 27” through “Tuesday, October 3”
Response to Literature: Recognizing Characters’ Emotions

  • What feelings do Paul and Joey express in this part of the story? Give details from the text.
  • Explain why Paul doesn’t seem afraid of Victor. Compare and contrast Paul’s relationship with Victor and his relationship with Erik.
  • Why does Paul describe his house as “filled with poison”?
  • Explain how Paul’s relationship with Joey has changed, and why.

“Wednesday, October 4” through “Sunday, November 5”
Literary Elements: Description and Setting

  • Discuss how the author develops the character of Luis. What words and phrases help you visualize or picture Luis?
  • Why do you think Paul becomes interested in Luis’s nursery and enjoys working there?
  • Paul says,“I guess people see what they want to see.” Explain why you think this statement is true or untrue.
  • What two flashbacks does Paul experience in this reading assignment? Discuss how these flashbacks intensify the suspense.

“Tuesday, November 7” through “Friday, November 10”
Composition: Personal Essay

  • Explore your empathy, or feelings of understanding, for Paul. What do you have in common with Paul? What does your empathy for Paul teach you about yourself?
  • Compare and contrast Betty Bright with someone who has been a strong mentor in your life. Discuss the qualities that make each person an effective coach or mentor.
  • Describe an experience or event that proved to be a turning point in your own life. What new understanding did you gain about yourself and/or about the world around you?

“Monday, November 20” through “Thursday, November 23”
Literary Elements: Suspense

  • What were the most suspenseful parts in today’s reading? Why were they suspenseful?
  • Paul asks himself these three questions: “Why couldn’t I tell my own parents about Erik? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with all of us?” Write a truthful response to Paul.
  • What descriptive or sensory details does the author use to help readers visualize the freezing night in the tangerine grove?

“Friday, November 24” through “Thursday, November 30”
Literary Elements: Symbolism

  • What symbols did you find in today’s reading? Explain what each symbol might mean.
  • Discuss what Mr. Fisher is blind to in both of his sons’ lives.
  • Explain what truths Paul is aware of and why they seem to be a source of growing frustration and anger for him.
  • Why is Paul so affected by Luis’s death? What did Luis mean to him?

“Friday, December 1”
Literary Elements: Dynamic and Static Characters

  • How has Paul changed during the story? Provide examples of his changing emotions and behavior at crucial points in the novel.
  • Discuss the reason for Tino and Victor’s actions and whether or not you think their actions were justified.
  • What scene from today’s reading is the climax of the novel? Describe how this event affects Paul. Were you surprised by Paul’s behavior? Why?

“Saturday, December 2” through “Sunday, December 3, later”
Comprehension: Cause-and-Effect Relationships

  • In today’s reading, Antoine Thomas starts a chain of cause-and-effect events. Identify the steps in this chain.
  • What lies have surfaced in this story? List as many as you can think of.
  • Discuss how the novel proves or disproves Aristotle’s statement “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.”

“Monday, December 4” through “Wednesday, December 6”
Literary Elements: Falling Action, Resolution, and Dénouement

  • Why does Theresa think Paul has messed up his whole life? Compare her perspective with Paul’s.
  • Explain whether or not you think Paul’s parents have changed. Support your response.
  • What is the significance of Tino’s calling Paul “brother” at the end of the novel? Why is Paul affected by it?