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DISCUSSION GUIDE

A NOVEL BY
M EGAN JEAN SOVERN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
The following questions may be utilized throughout the novel study as reflective writing prompts or alternatively, they can be
used as targeted questions for class discussion and reflection.

• In the prologue of The Meaning of Maggie, Maggie, who aspires to be a future president of the United States, offers
her rationale for writing a memoir of her year and states, “So maybe I didn’t cut down a cherry tree and maybe I
don’t have wooden teeth and I wasn’t born in a log cabin with a dirt floor and nine thousand brothers and sisters.
I still have something to say.” In your opinion, why is Maggie’s story so important? How does her telling it help her
deal with the challenges in her world?

• How does Maggie’s father’s Multiple Sclerosis profoundly impact and change the lives of each of his family
members? Do you think they are ultimately better people because of what happens to him? Why or why not?

• In what ways does Maggies’s dad’s poor relationship with his own parents impact his philosophies regarding family
and relationships? Do you think his way of parenting would be different had he not had this experience?
Why or why not?

• Describe Maggie. What makes her such a dynamic person? Is she the type of person you would want as a friend?
Why or why not?

• How is Maggie’s relationship with her father different than her relationship with her mother? Do you find her to be
closer to one of them than the other?

• Consider the cover art for The Meaning of Maggie. In what ways are the images represented symbolic for the events
that transpire throughout the course of the book?

• When Maggie asks Tiffany if she looks different on her birthday, Tiffany tells her, “Yeah. You look even nerdier than
you did yesterday.” How is Tiffany’s comment indicative of their relationship? How does Maggie’s relationship with
both of her sisters change throughout the course of the novel?

• Why does Maggie choose to keep her science fair topic secret from her family? Do you think she is right to do so?
What do you think she fears will happen if they knew the truth?

• In considering her earlier successes with resolutions, Maggie decides that she can and will fix her dad. Why is her
strategy so ambitious? What is the danger in having such a plan?
• Do you feel Maggie’s strong reaction to learning her family has kept her father’s treatment from her is warranted?
In your opinion, did they make the right decision? Why or why not?

• The Meaning of Maggie is told in first person; how would the story be different if there were another character
telling it? Do you thinking changing or limiting the point of view would make the story better or worse? Why?

• Why does Layla use the story that she needs help from Maggie on her homework assignment for the reading of
To Kill a Mockingbird? How does this help Maggie better understand their father’s courage and tenacity?
• Consider the characters in The Meaning of Maggie; who did you like the most? The least? For what reason? Of all of
the characters, who did you feel was most similar to you due to his/her personality or experiences?

• How does Maggie’s opinion of Mary Winter change throughout the course of the novel? What does she learn from
their running experiences?

• Using the phrase, “This story is about…” supply five words to describe The Meaning of Maggie.
Explain your choices.

ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE AUTHOR


As befits a future President of the United
States of America, Maggie Mayfield has
decided to write a memoir of the past year
of her life. And what a banner year it’s
been! During this period she’s Student of
the Month on a regular basis, an official
shareholder of Coca-Cola stock, and
defending Science Fair champion. Most
Before her first leap into fiction, Megan Jean
importantly, though, this is the year Maggie
Sovern was an advertising copywriter for
has to pull up her bootstraps (the family
many moons where she worked with top-notch
motto) and finally learn why her cool-dude
talent mostly named Matt or Karen. She lives
dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how
in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Ted and
scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern,
his near complete collection of Transformers.
herself the daughter of a dad with multiple
He doesn’t like it when she says, “Zoinks.”You
978-1-4521-1021-9 • $16.99 HC sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and
Ages 8-12 • Grades 4-7 can learn more about Megan by visiting
Fountas & Pinnell: W
assured prose of a new literary star.
www.meganjeansovern.com

PRAISE FOR THE MEANING OF MAGGIE


“In The Meaning of Maggie, Megan Jean Sovern has found a way to illuminate one family’s struggle in the face of an
impossible and incurable disease. She’s done it with humor, wit, and heartache. And along the way, she’s given us a
character-Maggie-who is a joy to behold despite being stubborn, immature, and temperamental. There is hope here, and a
great story to boot.” –KATHI APPELT, author of National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book The Underneath

“The Meaning of Maggie is funny, charming, and full of heart. Maggie is an unforgettable character and young readers will
love her.” –WENDY MASS, New York Times bestselling author of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.

This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, a teacher and school librarian in Coppell, Texas. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature.

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