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common core aligned teacher’s guide

Everyone has problems. Candice has solutions.


discussion questions
•• How would you describe Candice Phee? What makes her unique?

•• Who is Douglas Benson? Describe his relationship to Candice. How does their •
relationship develop over time? Why does Candice worry about him and what steps •
does she take to make sure he is safe?

•• What role does Miss Bamford play in the story? Is she a positive influence on Candice? •
Why or why not? What assignment does she give the class and how does Candice feel
about the assignment?

•• Who is Jen Marshall? How does the author depict her early in the story and what does he
reveal about her toward the end? How do these details impact the readers’ perceptions •
of her? Is Jen a likeable character? Why or why not?

•• Describe Candice’s family. Discuss the steps Candice takes to help her mother •
and father feel better. Do her efforts work? Explain.

•• Why does Candice ask Rich Uncle Brian to buy her a bike? Explain.

•• How did Candice’s uncle become wealthy? Compare and contrast Rich Uncle Brian with
Candice’s father and describe their relationship. What steps does Candice take to bring
them back together?

•• Identify two important events in the story and explain how they move the plot forward.
Describe how the characters respond to these events. What does their behavior illustrate
about their personalities?

•• Why does Douglas believe he is from another dimension? Does Candice believe him? •
Why or why not? How does Douglas help Candice’s father?

•• What concern does Candice have about Earth Pig Fish and how does Douglas Benson help
ease Candice’s concern?

•• Discuss how the author structures the story. How does the author’s choice to structure the
chapters alphabetically contribute to the development of the protagonist’s personality?

•• Identify one theme in the story. Describe details and events that support this theme and •
discuss how the theme develops over time. Explain how the character(s) respond to the
theme and/or interact with each other as the theme unfolds.

•• The author uses humor to tell the story. Candice often takes people’s words too literally.
Identify three passages that are memorable for their humor or wit.

•• Discuss the ending of the story. Is it satisfying to you? Why or why not? If you had an •
opportunity to offer an alternate ending, how would you end the story and why?

**These discussion questions align with the following Common Core Standards RL.6.1, RL.7.1, RL.6.2, RL.7.2, RL.6.3, RL.7.3, RL.6.4, RL.7.4, RL.6.5,
RL.7.5, RL.6.6, RL.7.6


analyzing perspective
We all see events through different lenses. Candice, for example, tells a story about how several
of her family members viewed her birth differently. Choose three characters from the following
list and write a paragraph from each person’s perspective that describes Candice: Miss Bamford,
Douglas Benson, Jen Marshall, Candice’s father, Candice’s mother. Share your paragraphs with
another classmate. Which point of view most closely resembles your perspective? Why?

writing acrostic poetry

Candice tells her story using the alphabet—writing about events from “A” to “Z.” Write an acrostic
poem about your own life or someone you know in which each line tells something important
about you or the person whom you choose to describe. Read your poem either in a small group•
or before the class.

creating inclusive community

Candice is an outsider at school. Imagine how Candice would fit in at your own school. What
suggestions would Candice offer to improve the sense of community in your classroom?.

having fun with hyperbole

Think of an event or situation in your own personal life and write a narrative in which you
exaggerate the situation. After you draft your narrative, examine your word choice and identify •
at least five words or phrases that you can replace with stronger, more original words or phrasing.

communicating with pen pals

In the story, Candice has a pen pal who lives in the United States. Imagine that Douglas has a
pen pal from the United States. Write a letter to the pen pal in which you talk about either your
desire to get back to the “other dimension” or the conflict you would feel leaving Candice and your
facsimile family behind. You may write about both. Share your letter with a classmate and discuss
how they are similar and how they are different.

These activities align with the following ELA Common Core Standards: SL.6.1, SL.7.1, W.6.3, W.7.3, W.6.4, W.7.4, W.6.10, W.7.10


Candice Phee isn’t your typical twelve-year-old. She has more than her fair share
of quirks. But she also has she the very best of intentions and an unwavering
determination to make sure everyone around her is happy. Which is no easy feat
when you’re dealing with a pet fish with an identity crisis, a friend who believes
he came from another dimension, an age-old family feud, and a sick mom. But she
is on a mission. And she’s going to fix it all, even if it means risking sea sickness,
guarding the edge of a cliff, and dancing in the rain. Her methods might be unique,
but Candice will do whatever it takes to restore order to her world and make
sure everyone is absolutely, categorically happy again.
Hilariously honest and wonderfully touching, The Categorical Universe of
Candice Phee will have you rooting for the underdog and celebrating the
oddball in each of us.


Barry Jonsberg is a multi–award-winning writer of young adult and middle-grade
novels and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award 2012. He lives and
teaches in Darwin, Australia. 9 7 8 -1 - 4 5 2 1 - 3 3 5 1 - 5 • $ 1 6 . 9 9 H C
Ages: 10 and up • Grade: 5 and up
AN AUSTRALIAN AWARD WINNER F & P Te x t l e v e l G r a d i e n t : V

Victorian Premier’s Literary Award This curriculum guide was written by Pam B. Cole, Ph.D.,
Children’s Peace Literature Award Associate Dean and Professor of English Education and
Gold Inky Award Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.