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Looking For Angels by Valiska Gregory

Looking For Angels by Valiska Gregory

illustrated by Leslie Baker

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers 1996



"Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost."

-Henry James



            Sarah and her grandfather are spending the following day together. Before she goes to sleep, he tells her to be on the look out for angels, but she doesn't believe she will see any. The next day, her grandfather tells her about the morning sun sleeping on the bed. She hadn't seen it, so she looks again and there it is. Grandpa then says there are jewels in the garden which Sarah missed. She looks in the garden and sees the ruby-red raspberries glistening in the sun. He then tells her about the circus outside the window, which is a squirrel crossing a branch like a tightrope. And then a rabbit eating grass that resembles noodles. Sarah and her grandfather then seek out an encyclopedia to find pictures of angels. They are big and small; childlike and mature. Finally, Sarah looks out the window and really sees the world. She spies a hummingbird out the window. But instead of a bird, she sees it as an angel. Her grandfather was right.



Discussion questions:

1) Does Sarah really see and angel?

            A. Have you seen an angel?

            B. Have you ever seen anything that looks like an angel? Something with wings?

            C. Do you believe in angels even if you haven't seen them?


2) When Grandpa says, "I hoe you didn't miss the morning sun...it sometimes sleeps on the four-poster bed," doesn't he mean that the sun is really sleeping on the bed?

            A. Can the sun sleep?

                        i. Is it morning across the country when it is night at home?

            B. Have you ever seen the sun sleep?

            C. Can you sleep when it's light out or only when it's dark?

            D. Why can't Sarah see the sun sleeping at first?

3) Grandpa points out his "jewels' in the garden, do you think raspberries are like jewels?

            A. What else looks like jewels but isn't?

            B. Have you ever seen dew drops on a spider web or a leaf with a rain drop on it?

            C. Grandpa says that his raspberries may not be jewels, but "they are still a treasure." Are raspberries worth the same as jewels? Which would you rather have?

            D. If something looks like it is valuable, is it? what about a jewel made of glass and not a real gem?

4) Grandpa sees the "circus outside the window." Is the squirrel really in the circus?

            A. What is the squirrel doing?

            B. Does the grass look like noodles when the rabbit eats it? Why?

            C. Do rabbits eat noodles?

5) When Grandpa says, "I was looking for an everyday angel, the kind most people don't take the time to see," does he mean that there is a special trick to seeing angels?

            A. If you open your eyes really wide can you see more?

            B. How about if you squint your eyes really tight?

            C. If you are looking for something, is it easier to see?

            D. Did Sarah learn to see the world in a new way because of her grandpa?

            E. Have you ever seen something you weren't looking for?

            F. When do you begin to see things the way Sarah learns to see things?

            G. Can you look at something and not really see it?

                        i. Can you hear something and not really listen to it?

6) Grandpa gave value to all the things he showed Sarah. Is there a difference when you think that something is worth a lot, or valuable? Does it have a new meaning?

            A. What is an everyday angel?

            B. Have you ever been called an angel? Maybe by your parents or relatives?

            C. Do you agree with Grandpa that life is beautiful?

            D. Sarah changes her mind because of Grandpa's view, how does she change?

            E. Sometimes there is a right and a wrong answer. Is it possible to have many right answers?

If You Can't See It, Is It There?

This story deals with the problems of perception. People often only see what they expect, but when they are encouraged to look beneath and beyond the confines of what they assume there is usually more than ever imagined. Our loved ones, those sometimes older and wiser, sometimes younger and open, can make us more aware of what is possible and not just what there is. A mentor or friend can allow our minds to open even when our eyes are closed.



Can the Sun Sleep?

(Questions 1 and 2)

Are things as literal as their definitions, or are there many definitions for one thing? These questions are about the definitions of words and whether they can be more than one thing at a time. The sun can sleep, if it appears to lie on the ground, but if you don't see the sun as sleeping, then for you it will never be asleep.


The Value of Money

(Question 3 and 6)

There is a difference between obvious value and hidden value. A jewel is known to be precious, it is beautiful and worth a lot of money. But raspberries can be just as beautiful when the dew is shining off of them early in the morning. This question asks about the ways in which something can have value. It questions whether something is valuable because it is expensive or expensive because it is valuable.


Nature Actions

(Question 4)

Do animals behave like humans or do humans behave like animals? Like questions 1 and 2 this is about how you perceive the laws of nature and who agrees with them. Any action, looked at in an objective fashion can appear to be something else, a circus of bugs, a rabbit eating noodles, etc. All of these normally human actions can be evidenced in other aspects of nature as well.


Seeing Angels

(Question 5)

Sometimes what we see with our eyes closed is more important than what we see with them open. Once Sarah knew what she thought of as an angel, she could take her definition and see ways that other things fit into it. For her, the hummingbirds were angles because of the feathers, beauty, and size. It doesn't matter whether they "really were angels" because in her mind, they were.




by Alissa Fitzgerald