Write one paragraph describing your early experiences with music. What were some of the first songs or artists that were meaningful to you? Why? How were your experiences with music similar or different to Ishmael’s?
Reading Log 2:
As Chapter 2 begins, we flash forward to Ishmael’s new life in New York City. He describes a dream of pushing a wheelbarrow. What is in the wheelbarrow and where is he pushing it? What does Ishmael mean when he says, “I am looking at my own” (p. 19)? How is flashback used in this book? Why would the author of a memoir use flashback?
Reading Log 3:
By the end of Chapter 4 the boys have stolen food for the first time in order to survive. This is their first criminal act. Just a few days earlier they were innocently traveling to a talent show to perform their rap and dance routine. List several events that have occurred since then to cause this sudden change in the boys’moral code.
Reading Log 4:
On page 37 Ishmael explains how traveling with a group of boys was a disadvantage. Why was this? How had the civil war affected people’s reactions to strangers in general?
Reading Log 5:
In Chapter 7, Ishmael describes his journey towards Bonthe.... “For five days, I walked from dawn to dusk, never coming in contact with any human being."
Think about your daily social interaction - family, friends at school, relatives, service people, team mates, and the many different people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Now close your eyes and imagine your days without ANY social interaction - scared, homeless, hungry, and lost.
How did Ishmael keep his sanity during this time? What did he do? How would you deal with this kind of solitude? Would you do the same things Ishmael did or would you behave differently? Do you think it would be easy or difficult?
Reading Log 6:
Find an example of a simile on p. 49. What is it describing? How does this description enhance the reader’s understanding of this scenario? How is it an appropriate comparison?
Reading Log 7:
The author uses foreshadowing on pg. 81 in the lines, "After Kanei stopped humming, the world became eerily silent. The breeze and the clouds had stopped moving, the trees were still, as if they all awaited something unimaginable."
What happens to the boy Saidu? What happened to his sisters at the outbreak of the war? Predict what will happen to the group of boys next.
Reading Log 8:
Describe your personal thoughts and reactions as you read Chapter 11. How were you feeling as you read the first few pages of the chapter? How were you feeling as you read the last few pages?
Reading Log 9:
The line “Cowards die many times before their death” from p. 104 is an allusion to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Explain the significance of this quote at this point in the story.
Reading Log 10:
Based on what you have read up to page 124, do you believe the government army that Ishmael fought for was really any different from the rebel army? On p. 124, Ishmael states, “The prisoner was simply another rebel who was responsible for the death of my family, as I had come to truly believe”. Moments later he slits the prisoner’s throat. What is ironic about his words and this situation?
Reading Log 11:
Describe your reaction to the violent and criminal behavior of the former child soldiers in the rehabilitation center. Are you surprised by their behavior? Why or why not? Why do you think the workers at the center keep saying “it’s not your fault”?
Reading Log 12:
In Chapter 17, Ishmael describes the “first time [he’d] dreamt of [his] family since [he] started running away from the war” (p.165). Describe the nightmare in your own words, explaining how it differs from the Ishmael’s other dreams that we’ve read about. How does this dream reflect his inner conflicts?
Reading Log 13:
In Chapter 18, Ishmael listens to the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds”. Watch and listen to the following video clip, then describe the mood or tone this song creates and how this relates to this part of the story.
As he is leaving Benin House, Ishmael says farewell to his friend Alhaji, who salutes him while whispering, “Goodbye, squad leader.” “I couldn’t salute him in return, “Ishmael writes (p. 180). Why? Use quotes from the text in your response.
Reading Log 15:
Although New York City turns out to be much safer and more exciting than Ishmael had ever imagined, he is disappointed by the food and shocked by the cold weather. Describe a time that you traveled to a new place or tried something new that was not what you expected it to be. What did you learn from this experience?