TO COME AND GO LIKE MAGIC…a Parents’ Choice Recommended Book, 2010…listed by the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee as one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year (with a star for outstanding merit)…featured in the Weekly Reader’s READ magazine, April 29, 2011 (in the Fiction Excerpt)…selected for Battle of the Books 2012 in Halifax, Nova Scotia…winner of the Evelyn Thurman Award for Best Young Reader’s Book of 2011.
About the Author…
Katie grew up in eastern Kentucky. She has been a social worker in Appalachia, counseled continuing education students at American University in Washington, DC, written ads for Peace Corps and VISTA, and written about projects in developing countries for an international organization. She has published articles and essays in several magazines and local newspapers and journals. For the past several years she has tutored and taught workshops to middle-school and high school students in preparation for the Thomas Jefferson High School admissions exam, the SAT, and college application essays.
For thirteen years she volunteered in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia (kindergarten through high school) doing all sorts of fun activities, from being a room parent, library assistant, and helping elementary students “publish” their own books to managing publicity for high-school theater, setting up biology labs, and serving as a Great Books discussion leader. She holds a B.S. degree in psychology, sociology, and education.
Katie offers presentations and workshops for both assemblies and small groups and can vary the topic, information, and activities to fit the age level.
Email Katie at email@example.com with questions and/or comments or to schedule a school visit.
Ideas for the Classroom
1) Read aloud…
One of the short vignettes from To Come and Go Like Magic can be read in a few minutes. Although it’s best to read from beginning to end for the story, it is also possible to select a single vignette that might go along with other studies or projects. A social studies class studying the 1970s, for example, could take a closer look at Appalachian culture or traditions and the importance of this region during that time.
2) Writing with the senses…
To Come and Go Like Magic has many examples of the sights, scents, and tastes of the Kentucky hills. Students could select and illustrate their favorite phrases, images, or sayings from the story and create an Appalachian quilt like the ones Aunt Rose makes in the story.
3) Understanding characters…
To Come and Go Like Magic has many characters with both negative and positive qualities. Students could choose a character to study in depth for a group discussion or writing activity. (Who do you like/dislike the most? What good/bad decisions did this character make? How does this character contribute to the community/story? If this character acted differently in a given situation, what might be the outcome? Is this character a “proud” person? How does this sense of pride help/hurt them or others?)
4) Feature To Come and Go Like Magic in a unit of study about America in the 1970s...
Before the late 1960s and 1970s the Appalachian region was one of the most isolated areas in the United States. A study of this particular time — President’s Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” the Great Society programs, the influence of VISTA — could show how these programs brought the world to the hills and the hills to the rest of the world. One project could explore how Appalachia has changed and how the area has remained the same. A number of studies and individual true stories about the people of Appalachia are available in literature, film, and online.
5) Explore the Appalachian Culture…
Have students explore the culture through the music, literature, beliefs, and handicrafts. In To Come and Go Like Magic, Chili (the narrator) and her cousin Lenny enjoy listening to the same popular music of the 70s that all other teens enjoy, but they also sing the old-fashioned gospel tunes of the hills, and one friend of Chili’s plays the dulcimer. In terms of literature, students could discuss the attitudes and practices surrounding the banning of books and how reading some books in Appalachia could be seen as inappropriate or even a threat to local beliefs and traditions.
Please see TO COME AND GO LIKE MAGIC: The Soundtrack for a list of songs, text references, and You Tube links to performances.
6) Consider the references to, and importance of, the natural world…
Nature plays a big role in To Come and Go Like Magic. A number of vignettes deal with nature and/or science — the migration of eels and butterflies and ducks, the variety of trees, the interest in — and prevailing attitudes toward — Darwin’s theories, the love of the land and importance of planting season, etc. Before Kentucky was settled by the pioneers the land was rich in both plant and animal life and attracted great parties of hunters (Daniel Boone, for example). It is interesting to note that in the 1970s (and even to a certain extent today) this area held fast to its love of the natural world and to many of the traditions and beliefs of the pioneers.
7) Teaching writing…
a) The book lends itself well to teaching similes, metaphors, and descriptive language to budding young writers.
b) The short vignettes can readily be used to learn about author viewpoint. Many students enjoy reading first-person narrative and the stories here can serve as examples for how they might write their own.
c) Social studies teachers could combine geography and writing (as Miss Matlock does in To Come and Go Like Magic) and use the descriptions to bring the customs of Kentucky alive for students. They might also compare and contrast life in Kentucky with their own states.
d) A number of themes weave their way through the story making it a good example for teaching theme. One vignette may be all about freedom, while another echos forgiveness or the meaning of home.
**Many thanks to my friend Kathy Hudson, a former teacher in Delaware, for her great insights and help!
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