A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kindred Souls is a story about the last months of a grandfather's life, told from the point of view of his 10-year-old grandson, Jake. Though Jake asserts that his grandfather will live forever, he must come to terms with the fact that everyone dies eventually. Jake's journey to this understanding is handled with sensitivity and honesty.
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What's the story?
Jake knows his 88-year-old grandfather, Billy, will live forever. Every day during the summer, Jake and Billy take the same walk around the farm. And every day, when they come to the small wall that's all that remains of the sod house Billy grew up in, Billy says, "I miss that sod house." When Billy gets sick and has to go the hospital, Jake is sure he'll be OK. All the same, he decides to rebuild the sod house for Billy. Jake's parents and siblings get drawn into the project, too, and it becomes a bond among all of them as they anticipate Billy's homecoming. The sod house comes to mean both the beginning and the end of something for Jake.
Is it any good?
Patricia MacLachlan's gentle pace matches the summer days on Jake's farm; not much happens in KINDRED SOULS, but it's pleasant and warm. Jake witnesses various phases of life on the farm -- a calf is born, the hummingbirds get ready to go south -- and always, in the midst of the modern-day tractors and computers, the past is kept alive through his grandfather's memories and Billy's interest in them. It's a sweet and honest look at a boy's last days with his grandfather, from the Newbery Award-winning author of the Sarah, Plain and Tall series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it was so important to Jake's grandfather to have the sod house rebuilt. Why do you think Jake didn't want to do it at first?
What do you think Jake's grandfather means when he tells Jake he's a kindred soul? Do you have a kindred soul?
What does Lucy the dog do that might indicate she really is an angel, as Jake's brother suggests? Does she do anything to indicate she's just a dog?
If you've read other books by Patricia McLachlan, how does this one compare?
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