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INTERNATIONAL CAM JANSEN and Study Guides for "Cam Jansen -- Mystery - Stolen Diamonds," "Don't Talk To Me About The War," "Cam Jansen -- Wedding Cake Mystery," "Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life," "Cam Jansen -- Monkey House," and "Cam Jansen -- Monster Movie"

1- Cam Jansen’s nickname is first explained on pages 5 and 6.
Do you know of any sports heroes who have nicknames?
Do you have friends with nicknames?
Do you have a nickname?
Would you like one? What would you like your nickname to be?

2- At the time this book was written the author David A. Adler had an infant son named Michael. How do you think this helped him get the idea to write this book? Do you use your experiences in your stories?

3- Near the top of page 7 Eric says, “Then I have to find out whether he wants to be held, fed, or changed. I have everything I need right here.” Why is this an important detail to remember? How does this help Cam solve the mystery of the stolen diamonds?
Near the bottom of page 14 Cam opens the insulated bag with strapped to the front of Howie’s carriage and said, “Boy, he sure needs a lot of stuff.” Why is this an important detail to remember? How does this help Cam solve the mystery of the stolen diamonds?

4- On page 17 the police officers asked the people who had gathered near Parker’s Jewelry Store if they had seen anyone run off. The people give different descriptions of the man who ran away. Why would people give different descriptions of the same man? Have you ever had difficulty remembered someone or something you saw just a short time before? What would you do if you were one of the police officers in the story? Would you write in your police pad?

5 - On page 24 one of the old women tells Cam that the man who ran from the store was not the man who robbed the jewelry store. Did that surprise you? Do you like to be surprised when you read a story? Why do you think the author had the man run from the store if he wasn’t the thief?

6 - Were you scared in Chapter Six when o of the thieves found Cam and Howie? Do you like to be scared when you read a story? Was is smart of Cam to follow the thief? What should she done instead?

7- Did you think it was funny at the end of the book when the woman with the cane talked about the “nice young couple” who were in the jewelry store when it was robbed? How would you have ended the story?

The very first line of the book, “Don’t talk to me about the war,” tells the reader that Tommy Duncan, the story’s main character, is not interested in adult-like issues. He soon lets the reader know he’s more interested in baseball and the popular radio shows of the day. As the story progresses and he gets more involved in his mother’s health issues he is forced to take on more responsibilities. His interests slowly change. He matures.
----- Give examples that indicate how his interests change as the story progresses.
-----Which Tommy would you prefer as your friend, the Tommy at the beginning of the book or the Tommy near the end of the book?

Mr. Simmons first appears in the book on page 2. The author placed him at the table with Beth to keep the conversation between Tommy and Beth from moving too quickly. Mr. Simmons is described as a well-education student of history. He makes frequent appearances in the story at Goldman’s Coffee Shop. We also meet him on page 112 at his place of work. His job is a surprise to Tommy and meant to be a surprise to the reader. He’s a doorman.
----Why is Tommy surprised?
----Do you know people whose work surprises you? Why do their jobs surprise you?

On page 55 before Tommy and Charles join a stickball game they leave their books and jackets between two cars, a Ford and a Hudson. Of course, since this is fiction, the author could have named any two cars – Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, or Cadillac. He chose to make one of the cars a Hudson because while it was a popular car in the time of the story, 1940, Hudsons are no longer being manufactured. The author wanted the mention of the Hudson car to be a reminder to the reader that this is 1940, not today. Even Tommy’s favorite team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, is a reminder that this story takes place in the past. Tommy lives the Bronx. He could have been a New York Yankee fan, but by being a Dodger fan he reminds the reader that this story happened some time ago.
----There are many instances in the book where the author subtly reminds the reader of that it’s 1940. How many more references can you find?

On page 107 Tommy has his first ride in a taxi cab. He’s thirteen years old and lives in New York City. His parents do not have a car.
----Were you surprised that he had never been in a taxi cab before this?
----What does this tell you about Tommy?
----Have you ever been in a taxi cab?

The author first prepares the readers on page 2 for Mrs. Duncan’s health issues, a driving theme in the story – “I look at her hands. They’re steady, not like last night.”
----How many other hints can you find early in the story of Mrs. Duncan’s coming health issues?

Sarah who first appears on page 6 of the book is a European refugee. She makes the war in Europe personal for Tommy and Beth.
----What do you know about Sarah?
----What do you think it would be like to have a friend who has Sarah’s tragic experiences?

----On page 165 we learn that Tommy’s friend Charles was named for Charles Lindbergh. What’s the great irony in this?

The book ends in 1941, with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
---- By now Tommy and Beth would be in their 80s. If you were to write a sequel to the book, what would you write. What would you have them doing in 1945? 1965? 1995? Today?

Study Guide for
Cam Jansen and the Wedding Cake Mystery

1 - The mystery begins with a riddle, “What color is a hiccup?” Do you think that’s a good way to begin a story? Why do you think the author made Danny wait until the middle of the next page to tell you the answer to the riddle?

2 - Cam Jansen’s nickname is first explained on page 11.
Do you know of any sports heroes who have nicknames?
Do you have friends with nicknames?
Do you have a nickname?
Would you like one? What would you like your nickname to be?

3 - Ken left his keys in the lock to the back of his truck. Have you ever had trouble finding something important? How do you look for something you’ve lost?

4 - Were you surprised that someone stole all Ken’s cakes? Why would someone take all those cakes, especially the wedding cake?

5 - Did you remember that Cam’s father had parked his car between a blue truck and a yellow truck? When you read a mystery, do you pay close attention and try and find clues that might help you solve the mystery? When David A. Adler began writing this story he knew to put this clue at the very beginning of the story. He knew what would happen later. When you start a story, do you know how it will end? As a writer, do you think it’s a good idea to know from the very beginning the ending of your story?

6 - On page 23 Danny puts chocolate chip cookies in his pockets. Were you surprised that on page 53 that Danny has a pocketful of cookie crumbs?

7 - How do you think David A. Adler got the idea to write the Wedding Cake Mystery? Where do you get ideas for your stories?

Douglass’s fight with Edward Covey described on pages 1 and 2 of this book was a turning point for Douglass. “I was nothing before,” he later wrote. “I WAS A MAN NOW.”
Can you think of turning points for other
prominent people?
Have there been any turning points in your life?
Take a look at the advertisements on pages 3 and 17.
What do those advertisements tell you about life here before the Civil War?
How would you react if you saw those advertisements posted today?
Take a look at pages 64 and 65 at the excerpts from the first edition of Douglass’s newspaper.
Why do you think he started the newspaper?
How do you think the newspaper helped the cause of freedom?
If you would start such a newspaper to what cause would it be devoted? What would you say if you joined Jeremiah Rankin of Howard University and Reverend J.T. Jenifer and spoke at Douglass’s funeral?

Study Guide for
Cam Jansen and the Mystery at the Monkey House

Have you ever visited a zoo?
What’s your favorite part of a zoo?
Do you like Cam’s friend Billy Adams?
Billy keeps telling Cam and Eric facts about animals.
Do you know anyone who keeps telling you facts.
Do you find that interesting or annoying?
Would you like Billy Adams to be your friend?
On page 30 Cam says she thinks the monkeys
are hidden in the ice cream cart.
Did you think she was right?
On page 53 Cam, Eric, and Billy
get to visit the zoo kitchen.
Have you ever been someplace
that isn’t open to most people?
What place that isn’t open to most people
would you like to visit?

-- The author intended "Shoe Escape" to be a funny title for a monster movie. Is it a funny title? Can you think of other funny titles for monster movies?
-- Cam's parents had already seen "Shoe Escape." Why are they going to see it again? Have you ever watched a movie a second time? Why did you watch it again? How can a writer make a story so exciting that the reader will want to read it again and again?
-- On page 21 Cam and Eric hear two people arguing. Eric says, "Maybe it's none of our business." But Cam runs up the stairs to listen. What does this tell you about the different personalities of Cam and Eric?
-- Can you imagine thousands of shoes marching through the streets as described on page 53? Do you think shoes will ever march together to complain about being stepped on and stepped in? What does this tell you that the author of this Cam Jansen mystery thinks about horror movies? Does he think they're realistic? Do you?

Once you've read the Cam Jansens, you're ready for the Andy Russells published by Harcourt and Scholastic.

Here's the beginning of THE MANY TROUBLES OF ANDY RUSSELL:

"Andy Russell rushed to the edge of the stairs and looked up. The doors to his parent's and sister Rachel's rooms were closed. He hurried back to the kitchen and climbed onto the counter by the sink. He reached up and pressed one hand to the ceiling to keep his balance."

Meet Andy Russell! He means well, but there's always trouble for him!

In THE MANY TROUBLES OF ANDY RUSSELL his many gerbils have escpaed and are scampering all over the basement. He's late for school, and he sure doesn't want to give boring Ms. Roman another excuse to call his parents. And today Andy wants to ask his parents if Tamika, his friend from school and next door, can move in with them. This is definitely not a good day for gerbil and other troubles.

NEW IN 2005


“Yikes!” Rachel Russell hollered. She turned and called to Andy, “You’re in trouble now. Real trouble. Just wait till Mom sees this mess.”
Andy Russell, his sister Rachel, and their friend Tamika Anderson had just come home from school. Rachel was standing by the open front door to the house.
“Let me see,” Andy said. He hurried up the front walk to the house and looked in.
The closet door was open. Coats, hats, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and the morning newspaper were on the floor.
“I’m not in trouble. I didn’t make this mess and you know it,” Andy said. “I was in school all day. We got on and off the bus together.” “Then who did?” Rachel asked.
How would I know? Andy thought, but that’s not what he said. Instead he joked, “Who did? It was my teacher Ms. Roman. She found out I was the one who spilled the doughnut holes all over her desk and she’s getting even.”
“Spilled doughnut holes on her desk,” Tamika said. “That’s funny.”
Andy bowed.
“Well, this mess isn’t funny,” Rachel said, “Maybe a raccoon came down the chimney. I’ve heard they do that.”

From Publishers Weekly
Seven of Andy's gerbils have escaped from their cage at home (and his mother hates animals). At school, preoccupied with thoughts of his pets on the loose, the boy offers "China" as the solution to a math problem. And just when he's about to ask his parents if his friend Tamika (whose foster parents are moving away for a year) can come live with the Russell family, he learns that his mother is pregnant. Such are the woes of Andy Russell, whom Adler (author of the Cam Jansen books) introduces in this jaunty novel, the first of a series. Displaying a knack for creating credible characters and amusing dialogue, Adler shapes a cast that youngsters will want to follow up on in future tales. Among them are Tamika, whose birth parents are recovering from a serious car accident; and earnest Bruce, Andy's best friend. Other personalities with potential are Rachel, Andy's snippy older sister, who condescendingly refers to his pets as "mice"; and Stacy Ann, the class brown-noser who corrects Andy's wrong answers "in her best I-know-and-you-don't tone." Though the hero manages to solve his problems this time, it won't be long before he next hits hot water. Readers will likely be standing by when he does. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5-Fourth-grader Andy Russell faces a host of problems over a period of a few days. They range from escaped gerbils to finding out that his mother is pregnant to worrying about a friend who would like to live with Andy's family because her foster parents are going to South America. All of the boy's troubles, though, great or small, are described in a fast-paced, breezy style and kids will be sure to identify with his befuddlement and concerns. Fortunately, Andy's best friend is on hand to supply some funny one-liners. The black-and-white illustrations capture the humor of the story, although readers may be somewhat unsettled by the 180 degree swivel of snotty Stacy Ann's head on one of the pages. This is the first in a series of books about Andy and his friends, a fact that will undoubtedly be good news to many young readers.
Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL