So many changes for Amber Brown. Third grade is over now and she's looking forward to fourth. Her best friend, Justin, has moved to Alabama. The biggest and hardest change is that her parents have not only separated, but her dad is far away in Paris, France. Now that school is over, she's on her way to Europe to visit her father, but first she will spend a week in London with her Aunt Pam. Amber is all set for a great vacation...that is, until she comes down with the dreaded chicken pox. When will she see her dad? Will her parents reunite at her sick bed? Nothing happens as she imagines, but by the end of the story she does realize that some things will never change.
Change can be difficult. To help students think about the theme of change, ask them to make a list of ten changes that have affected them. You may first want to brainstorm together about the kinds of changes they may have experienced, such as moving, the births of siblings, changes in the family, pets, illnesses, or making or losing friends. Discuss how they dealt with these changes. Then ask students to make a list of five things that don't seem to change. Encourage them to think not only about the details of their individual lives but also about the world around them. You could also get your students to name one or two things that they would like to change and one or two things that they would like to stay the same.
What Is Different?
In London, Amber Brown experiences so many differences! The time is different, the money is different, even the same language is different! Explore these cultural differences with your class:
- Time. Use a time zone map with your class to determine the time difference between where you are and London. Discuss time zones and what they mean.
- Money. Why do countries have different types of money? What is the value of the American dollar in United Kingdom pounds?
- Language. Have students guess what the following words mean in England (answers are shown in parentheses).
Jumper (pullover sweater)
Boot (trunk of car)
Tea (light dinner)
Lollies or sweets (candy)
Crisps (potato chips)
Chips (french fries)
Hoover (vacuum cleaner)
Amber was disappointed that she came down with the chicken pox during her vacation in London. Have your students think of a time when they felt disappointed. Have them talk about why their disappointments made them feel sad or let down. Encourage students to write about their disappointing experiences. You could also have them write about someone or something that made them feel better after their disappointments.