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Book Club Kits: Touch Blue

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

An exquisite second novel from the Newbery Honor author of RULES! TOUCH BLUE, sure as certain, will touch your heart.

The state of Maine plans to shut down her island’s schoolhouse, which would force Tess’s family to move to the mainland--and Tess to leave the only home she has ever known. Fortunately, the islanders have a plan too: increase the numbers of students by having several families take in foster children. So now Tess and her family are taking a chance on Aaron, a thirteen-year-old trumpet player who has been bounced from home to home. And Tess needs a plan of her own--and all the luck she can muster. Will Tess’s wish come true or will her luck run out?

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord offers a warm-hearted, humorous, and thoughtful look at what it means to belong--and how lucky we feel when we do. Touch Blue, sure as certain, will touch your heart.

Discussion Questions


1.       Look at the cover for Touch Blue. What questions do you have?

2.       The title, Touch Blue, comes from a superstition: Touch blue and your wish will come true. What are some common superstitions you’ve heard? Here are some to get you started:

Cross your fingers for good luck.

If you walk under an open ladder, you'll have bad luck

The number 13 is unlucky.

If you break a mirror, you will have 7 years bad luck.

A four-leaf clover is lucky.

Do you practice any of these? Why do you think superstitions exist? How do superstitions help people? How do they hold us back?


3.       If you could have one wish come true, what would your wish be?


4.       Have you ever played Monopoly? What token did you choose?


5.       The beginning—a book begins with a character that wants something, but something else stands in her way. At the beginning of the story, what does Tess want? Why does she want it? What stands in her way of getting what she wants?


6.       Since Aaron needs a home and the island needs children, do you agree or disagree when Tess’s mom says, “We have a strong, loving home . . . . How can it be wrong to share that with a child who needs one — even if he brings us something in return?”


7.       Tess tries to win Aaron over to her island by taking him to all her favorite places. If you were going to show someone new around your area, what would you show him/her?


8.       What do you think would be some good parts and bad parts to living on an island?


9.       Tess is afraid of moving. What are some things you might worry or wonder about if you had to move? Are any of those concerns the same ones Tess is worried about? In Touch Blue, Aaron has had to move, too. Compare and contrast Aaron’s worries about moving to Tess’s.


10.   What are Tess’s feelings about Aaron before he comes? How do they change when she meets him?


11.   Pick three words to describe your first impression of Tess. Choose three for Aaron, Libby, Mom, and Dad.


The middle—in a story, conflict=t escalates.


12.   The character tries new things to get what she wants, but those things lead to more complications and problems.


13.   What are Tess’s strengths? What are her weaknesses? How do her weaknesses cause events to worsen in the story?


14.   What contradictions exist in Tess? In Aaron? In Dad? In Mom?


15.   Why does Tess choose to keep secret the letter from Aaron’s mom? Do you think that was the right thing or the wrong thing to do? Why?


16.   How does Aaron feel about Tess’s family? What does he want from them? What is he afraid of?


17.   How do Tess’s feelings change toward Aaron as the book continues? What causes that change?


18.   Tess feels guilty being Jenna’s friend, because her old friend (Amy) didn’t like Jenna. Have you ever felt in the middle between two friends? What did you do?


19.   Tess tells Aaron: “Everybody gets something for the things they do. Even when people seem like they’re only thinking of others, maybe it’s because doing good makes them feel nice inside. Did you ever think of that? Those people are still getting something in return.” What do you think about that? Do you think she’s right?


The ending—a story leads to a climax and a resolution.

20.   At the end of the book, what are some choices Tess makes that show growth on her part?


21.   What are some of Aaron’s choices at the end that show his growth?


22.   Tess says to Aaron, “ . . . you can belong in more than one place, and one of your places is with us.” Where are some places you belong?


23.   By giving Aaron the blue lobster, what do you think Tess is saying to Aaron?


24.   Why do you think Aaron wants to put flowers on the unnamed sailor’s grave?


25.   Look back at the three words you chose to describe the characters near the beginning of the book. Do those words still fit? What adjectives might you add for each character now?


26.   What do you think might happen next?


Imagery and Theme

27.   What are some examples of belonging and not belonging in Touch Blue?


28.   How does music figure into this story? Books? How do those create connections between the characters?