Me and Marvin Gardens
by Amy Sarig King
Related Activities & Resources:
A.S. King homepage:
Amy Sarig King:
Amy Sarig King: 2017 National Book Festival (26:45): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqk1nu4o3XU
Activities & Resources:
Animal Track Preservation:
What Kids Can Do For the Environment:
One thing Obe likes doing is collecting rocks for his friend Annie. Have students bring a variety of rocks to school. In groups, have them research what kind of rocks they have collected and ask them to create rock museums.
Research ways that kids can help the environment and design an action plan to use at school or at home, based on information learned. Use this plan to create an ad campaign of student-produced PSA’s, sharing ways to help the environment.
Have students create their own board game based on the book, using a template from this website: http://www.bidproposalform.com/board-game-template/. Recycle bottle caps or other small items to use as game pieces. Create and illustrate rules like the ones for Monopoly found here: https://www.hasbro.com/common/documents/dad288661c4311ddbd0b0800200c9a66/97DF546B6BF64A70A2A759D3FA5BD804.pdf .
What efforts have you made to help the environment? Describe how your actions make a difference in improving the environment.
Does anyone in your family live on a farm or own land? Compare and contrast life on the farm with life in the city. What are the pros and cons of each? Would you prefer to live on a farm or in the city? Explain why you selected this preference.
If your former best friend hit you so hard that it caused you to have nosebleeds, would you tell an adult, or would you keep quiet like Obe did? Explain the reasons that would influence your decision.
Obe’s favorite class is science. What is your favorite and why? In general, does the teacher or topic make a bigger difference in which classes you enjoy most?
Have your parents or other adults you know expressed frustrations about their jobs or the people with whom they work? What can you do to help your parents/adults when this happens?
If you’ve ever tracked animal prints, which ones have you found? Which prints would you like to find? What process did you use to identify the tracks?
What would you do if you saw an animal you’d never seen or heard of before? How would you try to find out the identity of the animal?
If you found a new animal, who is the first person you would tell? Why? Describe what might keep you from sharing your secret?
What special power does Marvin Gardens possess? Do you think it is a good thing or bad thing? Why? How could this power help the problem of pollution?
Obe talks about how the roads in the subdivision are no longer relevant, such as “Orchard Way.” Make a list of signs or names for places in your community which seem to be based on the past. Then list a more current name for these locations. Explain why you selected these new names.
Obe buried things that belonged to him in the basements and yards of the new homes. Have you ever buried any of your possessions? If you had to choose to leave something of yours behind like that, what would you decide to bury? Why did you choose those objects?
Have you dealt with the ending of a friendship? What has caused you or people you know to drift away from friends or leave old friends behind for new ones? How did you deal with not being friends anymore?
Why do you think Tommy decided to quit being friends with Obe? Do you think that they will ever be friends again? Why or why not?
Why doesn’t Obe like playing Monopoly? What games do you and your family play together? Which games, if any, would you rather not play and share your reasons.
As a part of the book’s plot, Obe dislikes playing Monopoly with his father. Describe another way that the idea behind the game of Monopoly fits into the story’s plot.
Obe said that plastics ruined everything. His father disagreed and pointed out many things in their house which were made of plastic or came in plastic. With whom do you agree and why?
Do you think Marvin Gardens was a good name for the animal? Why do you think Obe chose it? What name would you have picked?
Some of the kids call Annie “Putrid Annie.” How would you respond if someone called you a similar name?
For which classes do you find it the most difficult to do the assigned homework? Why?
Who has been one of your favorite teachers? Why? If you were to be a teacher, what would you teach? Would it be the same class as your favorite instructor? What teaching tips do you think your favorite teacher would share with you?
Book Talk Teasers:
Place various trash items on the table and have the students guess which ones take the most time to decompose (Plastic bags 10-10,000 years, Plastic bottles 450+ years, Disposable diapers 250-500 years, Aluminum cans 80-200 years, Paper 2-6 weeks, Orange peel 6 months, Apple core or banana peel 1 month).
Have the students read the Readers Theater for this story.
Boys and Animals:
Hicks, Betty. The worm whisperer. Ellison Ellis Coffey, a lonely fifth-grader, discovers he might have the special gift of talking to bugs and decides to use his ability to win his town’s annual Woolly Worm Race. (NoveList)
McDonald, Megan. Stink and the freaky frog freakout. Stink struggles to learn how to swim until one day he encounters a mutant frog and then suddenly he starts to act just like a frog. (NoveList)
Pennypacker, Sara. Pax. When his father enlists in the military and makes him return his beloved pet fox to the wild, Peter, who has been sent to live with his grandfather hundreds of miles away, embarks on a journey filled with astonishing discoveries in order to be reunited with his fox. (NoveList)
Bullying and Bullies:
Alexander, Kwame. Booked. Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. (NoveList)
Russell, Rachel Renee. Locker hero. Questioning his resolve to attend public school after being homeschooled when he is targeted by a bully, Max aspires to become like his favorite comic book heroes and finds an unexpected opportunity to be the hero his middle school needs. (NoveList)
Sachar, Louis. Fuzzy mud. Tamaya Dhilwaddi and Marshall Walsh walk to and from school together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson starts a fight with Marshall. To avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya take a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. They are soon lost, and they find trouble. More trouble than anyone could imagine. (NoveList)
Allison, Rachel Hope. I’m not a plastic bag: a graphic novel. Based on the occurrence of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of floating trash in a remote area of the Northern Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Texas, tells a story about loneliness, beauty, and humankind’s connection to the planet. (NoveList)
Eaton, Maxell. The flying beaver brothers and the fishy business. Beavers Bub and Ace battle the Fish Stix corporation in an attempt to save their island’s trees. (NoveList)
Grabenstein, Chris. Riley Mack stirs up more trouble. Riley Mack and his friends are back in action–making trouble in the name of justice–this time to stop a pollution cover-up and protect one of their own from talent-show sabotage. (NoveList)
Charles, Veronika Martenova. Don’t go near the water! Three children tell each other tales about scary water creatures after the creek in their town nearly overruns its banks after a long spell of rain. (NoveList)
Singer, Marilyn. How to cross a pond: poems about water. Such poems as “Babbling Brook,” “Spring in the Garden,” “Watercolors,” “City River,” and “Ocean Checklist” present some of the many facets of water. (NoveList)
King, Amy Sarig Me and Marvin Gardens
250 pp. Scholastic/Levine 2017. ISBN 978-0-545-87074-0 Ebook ISBN 978-0-545-87077-1
(1) 4-6 Sixth grader Obe lives at the edge of a massive housing development being built on land that once belonged o his mother’s family. One day he spies a strange creature whose favorite food is plastic and whose scat is toxic. A. S. King’s middle-grade debut is a smart, environmentally conscious underdog story with a little sci-fi and a lot of heart. Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Excerpt in Magazine by permission of Horn Book, Inc.
King, Amy Sarig. Me and Marvin Gardens. Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press, 2017. School Library Journal (December 1, 2016)
Gr 3-7-Eleven-year-old Obe Devlin lives in the Pennsylvania farmhouse his family built 100 years ago. Unfortunately, his great-great-grandfather mortgaged more and more of the acreage that surrounded the house to pay for his alcohol addiction. On the small portion of land on which the house sits runs a creek surrounded by a wild area. In the habit of picking up trash from the creek, Obe comes across what he is sure is a new species of animal-a creature with a snout like a boar’s, a body and tail like a dog’s (yet with no fur or hair), and slimy algaelike skin. Marvin Gardens, Obe’s name for the creature because of his dad’s love of the board game Monopoly, eats only plastic. Obe soon discovers his new friend’s poop may be toxic to the land on which new homes are being constructed. Intermingled with the obvious environmental message are the topics of betrayal and bullying, gender expectations, consent, and true friendship. King writes from personal experience, crafting a coming-of-age novel with a fully developed and authentic protagonist. VERDICT An emotionally rich read for a wide audience, especially those interested in keeping the planet alive and well for future generations.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal , 2017.
King, Amy Sarig. Me and Marvin Gardens. Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press, 2017. Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5)
Grades 3-6. Sixth-grader Obe Devlin doesn’t run with the popular crowd. He’s more concerned with keeping his creek clean, finding rocks for busmate Annie Bell’s collection, and not having nosebleeds all over his clothes—a consequence of said unpopularity. Housing developments are rapidly, and upsettingly, encroaching on the acres of land that once belonged to the Devlin family, and Obe’s one friend chooses to hang with the new kids. On a routine creek visit, Obe discovers a capybaralike animal that only eats plastic, which he names Marvin Gardens. Obe keeps Marvin a secret until neighborhood vandals threaten the creature’s safety, prompting Obe to tap into his Devlin fierceness and take a stand. This is acclaimed YA author King’s first foray into middle-grade territory, and it’s no surprise that she adeptly handles issues like bullying, compromised friendship, complex family dynamics, and the tedium of homework. Obe’s connection to the land courses through the book and is firmly rooted in Devlin family history. Drawing upon the tradition of Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot (2002), this eco-focused story will tug at readers’ consciences and heartstrings. Used with the permission of Booklist https://www.booklistonline.com/