Suburban Mosaic

The Other Side

By Jacqueline Woodson

Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
Picture Book appropriate for all ages.

Discussion Questions

The Other Side

  1. How do you think Annie was feeling when she asked if she could play? Clover says that “I don’t know what I would have said. Maybe yes. Maybe no.” How do you think you might have answered Annie?
  2. What other characters do you know who are different and who are friends? How do Piglet and Winnie the Pooh overcome their differences? Frog and Toad? Etc…
  3. Author Jacqueline Woodson says on her website that she wrote The Other Side because, “I wanted to write about how powerful kids can be.” How do you think that Clover and Annie demonstrate their power? What about Sandra and Clover’s other friends? How about Clover’s mother? How do you think that you are powerful?
  4. In the Author Profile for teenreads.com, author Jacqueline Woodson is asked: “You’ve written a ton of books, from young adult to middle grade to picture books. Which of your characters gives you the most joy, and which one breaks your heart and why?” Woodson answers… “I think Clover and Annie (The Other Side) give me a lot of joy.” Why do you think that Clover and Annie give the author joy?
  5. All the book reviews written about The Other Side comment about the perfect match of the illustrations to the text. Why do you feel that the nostalgic feel of E.B. Lewis’s watercolor illustrations suit this story?
  6. How would this story be different if Clover was Carl and Annie was Arnie? What if Clover was white and Annie was African American? Or Asian-American or Hispanic-American or American Indian? How might the story change?
    In the Grades 6 – 8 lesson plan, “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Critical Discussion of Social Issues” Rochester New York teacher Joy F. Moss writes that “picture books can invite students to engage in critical discussion of complex issues of race, class, and gender.” In her lesson plan Moss presents the following questions:

    “In a whole-group session, the students listen to and discuss The Other Side, a picture story book by Jacqueline Woodson. This story is told from the viewpoint of Clover, an African American girl who lives in a town with a fence that separates the black side of town from the white side. Clover tells the story of the summer she becomes friends with Annie, a white girl who lives on the other side of the fence. A few questions are introduced to initiate a discussion:

    1. What do you notice about the front cover? What do you think the title means?
    2. What was the viewpoint in this story? Why do you think the author used this viewpoint?
    3. Why did Clover’s mother warn her not to climb over the fence?
    4. How did the Clover and Annie work out a way around this racial barrier?
    5. How is the fence used as a metaphor in this story?
    6. Why do you think Jacqueline Woodson wrote this story? What did you learn about this author that would help you answer this question?

    Read more of the “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Critical Discussion of Social Issues” lesson plan by Joy F. Moss at:http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=86

  7. What is it about Woodson’s text and Lewis’s illustrations that makes this story feel timeless and so fundamentally American?
  8. The 2008 theme for Suburban Mosaic is Living Between Cultures. How does the ending of the book make you feel about this theme? If you think that Clover and Annie will be friends, how does that make you feel about our future?

For more information:
Author Jacqueline Woodson’s website: http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/

Illustrator E.B. Lewis’s website: http://www.eblewis.com/