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The Star-Spangled Literacy Project

Thrill in the 'Ville

Thrill in the 'Ville Download the teacher's guide

Thrill in the 'Ville
Illustrated by Elizabeth Thompson
Benjamin Press, 2012
ISBN 978-098361061-8, Paperback
Middle grade fiction, Grades 3-7

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Teacher's Guide

From the author:
I learned firsthand about the hoopla that is part of a major political event while hosting the media hall for the 2000 Vice Presidential debate held at Centre College, where I was working at the time. Along with coworkers and dozens of volunteers, I had to make sure that the college was helpful toward journalists who came to town to report on the debate. For several weeks, I worked long hours, and so did my husband (he also worked for the college and was involved with the debate). Our twin girls who were in sixth grade never complained about our lives being disrupted, but a boy named Doug started whispering in my ear. He told me that if he were my kid, he'd have a few things to say. Okay, I'll admit that Doug was imaginary. He also was hilarious, so I listened to what he had to say. His story eventually became Thrill in the 'Ville.

Book Description:
Doug Alverton figured that defending a soccer goal was the toughest job in the world. That was before a political campaign invaded his small town. Suddenly Main Street has disappeared in a blizzard of red, white, and blue, and the Secret Service seems to be keeping tabs on Doug's favorite neighbor. In this romp of a story set in a small Kentucky town, an All-American boy gets a new perspective on democracy.

Thrill in the 'Ville uses humor and a light-hearted tone to take young readers behind the scenes for a look at a small Kentucky town chosen to host a national election debate. With its exploration of election campaigns and comparisons between politics and sports, this novel fills a much-needed void in middle-grade fiction.

Themes:
Democracy, elections, United States politics, political campaigns.

Questions for classroom discussion:
In addition to the Teacher's Guide available on this website, there is a two-page discussion guide included in the back of Thrill in the 'Ville, along with four pages of nonfiction material about historical figures mentioned in the story. Here are some sample questions for readers:

  • What similarities do you see between a political debate and a sports tournament?
  • Do you think the main character, Doug, will try to get elected to a public office when he grows up?
  • If so, would you vote for him? Who or why not?
  • If you had been a Secret Service agent assigned to the town of Benville, would you have been suspicious of the artist, Mr. Potensky?

Praise for Thrill in the 'Ville:
"Thrill in the 'Ville has a fresh, smart, funny, and yes, boyish tone to it that made me wish my son was younger and I could read it aloud to him, or that I was still teaching 4th and 5th grade students, for the same reason. Teachers, take note: the book poses thought-provoking ideas about the political process and democracy without veering into dreaded, dry textbook territory. But I can also see a kid picking it up for fun."—Jody Casella, http://jodycasella.blogspot.com.

For a lengthy interview with Patsi that explores her affinity for humor and the need for a strong voice in middle grade fiction, here's an interview conducted by Rebekah Harris.

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