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Book Club Kits: Isaiah Dunn is My Hero

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

A coming-of-age tale about a boy who proves that with superhero courage–and a few great sidekicks–you can take on even the toughest of odds. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson.

Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.

Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.

And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!

Kelly J. Baptist’s debut novel explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.

Discussion Questions

1. In the beginning of the story, the reader can figure out that the father is not with the family? What happened to him?

2. Why does Isaiah's friend, Sneaky, want to go to PJ's? Why do you think Isaiah goes in, even though he isn't supposed to be in there?

3. Why would Isaiah not want to say the motel he is staying at is not his "home"? Why do they move there and why does Isaiah call it the "Smoky Inn"?

4. What is so special about Isaiah's father's notebook? Why does he keep it close to his own notebook in his backpack?

5. Isaiah's dad said, "When you name a fear, it becomes defeatable." What do you think that means? Do you agree with him? What are some of your fears?

6. Why does Isaiah feel like he is letting down his Daddy when he does not write poetry?

7. How do you think Isaiah is feeling when he says his stomach starts doing it's "karate-chopping" after he sees the labels from his mom's bottles?

8. Why does Isaiah have to be the "man of the house" and take care of Charlie? How would you feel if you had to take care of your family at 12 years old?

9. What kind of hustle does Sneaky have and how did it start? Why do people say e will be a business man?

10. Why do they call him "Sneaky"? What does Sneaky save his money for? What does Isaiah save his money for? What would you save your money for?

11. What does Isaiah have in common with Angel? How does their relationship change throughout the book?

12. Why do you think Isaiah keeps so many things hidden? What are his secrets? How do you think it feels for Isaiah to keep these things to himself? Who might he turn to for support? Think about a secret in your own life. Why do you keep this information to yourself? How does it make you feel?

13. Isaiah says that he wants to read his Daddy's journal really slowly, so he never has to finish reading. Sneaky teases him, calling him "Mr. Librarian" because he loves to read so much. Can you relate to Isaiah? Have you ever loved reading something so much that you never wanted it to end?

14. How does Isaiah's Daddy help him even though he is gone?

15. What was Isaiah's most awesome day ever like? Describe your most awesome day in five words or less?

16. What is the "store" Seven Baskets? Who does Isaiah see there and why does he say something doesn't feel right about the place?

17. What is Isaiah's plan for getting out of the "Smoky Inn"? What happens?

18. Who is the first person Isaiah tells about his father dying and how does that help Isaiah?

19. How does Isaiah start writing again? Why was he "stuck"?

20. What gives Isaiah strength when he is scared? Do you have anything or anyone that helps when you are scared?

About Author

Kelly J. Baptist was born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She’s lived in Alabama, Florida, and Minnesota, but somehow found herself right back in her home state. Kelly won the 2015 We Need Diverse Books short story contest, and her winning entry is included in the middle grade anthology, Flying Lessons and Other Stories. A follow-up to that story, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero, is set for an August 2020 release by Crown Books for Young Readers. Kelly also won the 2017 Lee and Low New Voices Honor Award for her picture book manuscript, The Electric Slide and Kai, which is scheduled for a September 2020 release. Kelly is a huge Kobe Bryant fan, and incorporates Mamba Mentality in all aspects of her life, especially writing!