With the imminent release of Dearest (it’s already in some bookstores!) and the announcement of the Garden State Teen Book Awards (woohoo!), more and more Book Clubs and reading groups are picking up Enchanted.
My bestest friend Casey Cothran was my first writing partner back in middle school — today she is an Associate Professor of English at Winthrop University and teaches a very popular fairy tale class that sometimes even includes Enchanted on the required reading list. (I like to imagine her students questioning whether or not the author meant something in a particular passage and Casey saying, “I can call her and ask, if you’d like.”)
All of this, of course, made Casey the perfect person to sit down with and come up with a great list of Reading Group Discussion Questions. Please feel free to use these, share these, and add your own in the comments!
READING GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR ENCHANTED BY ALETHEA KONTIS
1. The stories that Sunday writes “have a tendency to come true” (7). Even if your own stories don’t predict the future, writing in a diary or journal might help you to understand feelings more clearly, to predict how people in your life might act, or to solidify your goals for the future. How else might thinking about Sunday’s special power help you to understand the power (and dangers) of writing things down?
2. Sunday writes that she loves Grumble “with all her heart” (36). Do you think she really fell in love with Grumble? Or, is she only in love with him because she wrote that she loved him in her book? (Remember, the stories that she writes “have a tendency to come true” .) Why do you think Sunday wrote about feelings of love? Because her feelings for Grumble were true…or because she wanted them to be true? Do you think Sunday and Grumble were destined to be together anyway?
3. The book opens with the line, “My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life” (1). How might a “happy life” sometimes feel like a curse instead of a blessing?
4. Think about the lives of Sunday and her family. How many of their adventures seem “destined”? What adventures–or aspects of their adventures–do they actually choose for themselves? (You might think specifically about Monday and Wednesday.) What does the novel, as a whole, say about the forces of fate and free will?
5. How does living as an animal affect Rumbold’s mind? His way of seeing and understanding the world?
6. This novel explores the joys and frustrations of a big family. What does the story say about relationships between sisters? About adoption? About sibling rivalry? About teenagers’ frustration with their parents? About losing a sister or brother to distance or to death? About finding yourself?
7. Rumbold’s father is a bad parent. What does this book say about bad parents and bad parenting? Conversely, how does Rumbold’s father compare to Sunday’s parents, who are very active in their children’s lives?
8. What does this book say about the potential for people to change their lives? To make different choices and choose different paths?
9. Discuss the animal transformations in the book. Jack becomes a dog; Rumbold becomes a frog; Wednesday becomes a goose. The author chose these particular animals to match their respective fairy tales (Cú Chulainn, The Frog Prince, Jack and the Beanstalk), but how do you think these transformations affected the characters in question? How might you feel about such a transformation? If you were cursed to live as an animal for a significant amount of time, what would you like to be?
10. Discuss the magic and the mysterious forces of the book. What is the role of Rumbold’s shadow-angel? Do you believe any magic can be used solely for good or evil, or is it always a wild, dangerous thing by nature?
11. The names in the novel are interesting. Do you think some of them give the reader hints about a character’s personality or destiny? Can you “predict the future” and guess what might happen to Sunday’s other siblings?
12. How many fairy tale references could you find in the novel? How many Mother Goose rhymes did you see?