The Tales of Amanda
By Jean Van Leeuwen
in 1983 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Guidelines and Ten Questions for two stories in the book ("The Monster" and
book is the story of little Amanda Pig and her life as the youngest in her
family. The book has five short
stories, each of which depict different interactions Amanda has with her
mother, father, and brother, Oliver.
The two stories discussed here are, "The Monster" and "Sleeping
Time". The monster is about Amanda
and here father scarring off the clock that turns into a monster when it is
dark. "Sleeping Time" is about
Amanda trading roles with her mother and putting her mother to bed, instead of
the other way around. Both stories
bring up philosophical issues concerning reality, what happens in the dark, and
at some point, was afraid of the dark.
When things are not visible they become mysterious and unidentifiable
(even ordinary things that we would never fear in the day time). The first question deals with why
children tend to be afraid of the dark while adults do not. If a child were to see a monster why
would they not see it when they get older? This question should make the students think about whether
monsters go away when we get older or do we just realize that they were never
there to begin with.
two deals with why the dark, specifically, makes things scary. Does the dark actually turn objects
into monsters? This makes the
students question what the dark actually does to things and why. Also, even if the dark actually did
turn objects into monsters, how could that be possible? Is it possible to turn nonliving objects
into living objects?
again, darkness is discussed in question three, but this question deals more
with not being able to see. This
is meant to evoke ideas of the scariness of not being able to see, as opposed
to "darkness" itself. In other
words, focusing on sightlessness instead of darkness. There can be a discussion of ways in which we try to limit
the amount of sightlessness during the night (for example, night lights).
four deals with why Amanda's father had the idea of scarring the monster. If he didn't believe that the monster
was really there, then why did he go to so much trouble to try to scare
it? This question is meant to
engage the students in a discussion of how Amanda's father was trying to help
Amanda NOT be scared, instead of trying to scare the monster.
five is meant to question why the dark is different from the light and if they
really different at all. For
example, do things actually change in the dark or just how we see (or don't
Question one, it first introduces the idea of being tired and sleeping by
asking simple, direct questions (for example, do you ever have to go to bed
when you are not tired?). It then
asks how someone would be able to fall asleep if they were not tired when they
went to bed. Other topics can be
discussed such as, what sorts of things can make you tired? Or, (going in a
different direction) how do you know when you fall asleep?
think dreaming is a great philosophical topic I decided to add a question about
it, even though dreaming is not discussed in the story. This question should draw some very
interesting answers from the students.
It begs the question, how do we know we are not all dreaming now? A good question to lead into that would
be to ask the class if they ever have a dream that they thought was real. If that has happened, how do they know
that it is not happening right now?
three discusses the roles that people take on (Amanda is a child, girl, and
daughter while her mother is a grownup, woman, and mother). Why would it seem funny for a child to
put his or her parents to bed?
This is supposed to lead to a discussion on how parents and children are
four deals with role-playing. Even
though Amanda is the daughter she can pretend to be the mother. It also asks why Amanda's mother lets
Amanda pretend to be the mother.
Did she know it would make Amanda want to go to bed?
question five asks about pretending and why we like to pretend to be other
people. It also asks about the
different ways in which we go about pretending.
The Questions for "The Monster"
Amanda doesn't want to go upstairs because there is a monster.
A. What is a
monster? How do you know when you
does it seem that some kids see monsters but most adults don't?
does Amanda believe in monsters and her brother, Oliver does not?
Amanda says that the monster is a clock in the daytime.
A. Why does the
dark turn the clock into a monster?
Does it really turn into a monster or does it just look like one?
could something not living (like a clock) turn into a monster?
the monster turn into a clock in the daytime or does the clock turn into a
monster in the nighttime? How do
(Continuation of Question 2)
A. Why are
things scarier when you can't see them?
you more likely to see a monster in the daytime or nighttime? Why?
Amanda and her father try to scare the monster with a flashlight, cooking pot,
Halloween masks, and umbrella.
A. If the
monster was real, do you think that those things would scare him or her?
do you think Amanda's father was trying to do?
Amanda's father shines the light on the clock it does not look like a monster
A. Did the dark
actually change the clock into a monster?
B. How is
the dark different from the light?
Questions for "Sleeping Time"
Amanda's mother is putting her to bed, but Amanda says that she is not tired.
A. Are you ever
not tired when your parents put you to bed?
B. Why do
you think that your parents make you go to bed even when you're not tired?
C. How do
you fall asleep when you're not tired?
How do ou know when you fall asleep?
(Continuation of Question 2)
A. Do you
always dream when you sleep?
B. How do
you when you dream?
C. How do
you know that you're not dreaming right now? How do you know you're awake if sometimes you think you're
awake but you are really dreaming?
Amanda puts her mother "to bed".
A. Why does
Amanda's mom put her to bed? Why
does it seem weird to have Amanda put her mom to bed?
parents supposed to put their children to bed?
other kinds of things do parents do?
What kinds of things do kids do?
Amanda says, "I think my little girl is asleep".
A. Why does she
say that? Is her mom really her
Amanda pretending to be her mother?
If her mother wasn't pretending to be the child, do you think that
Amanda would want to pretend the mother?
Could she pretend to be a mother without having a child to mother?
(Continuation of question 4)
A. Have you
ever pretended to be someone else?
B. Who do
you like to pretend to be? How do
you do that?