Counting by 7s / Holly Goldberg Sloan. p. cm. Summary: Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people. Let us introduce you to Willow Chance, a twelve-year-old genius obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions who finds it comforting to count by 7s. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been.
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Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan. In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about. A New York Times Bestseller In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an. comforting to count by 7s. As Willow pieces her life back together after the unexpected death of her parents, she discovers the connections that bind us all as.
When Dell indicates she doesn t, they ask to speak to him alone. Willow can hear them talking and learns her parents have been killed in an accident. She wants to go back in time and asks if anyone wants to go with her. In Chapter 2, Willow describes herself as being an adopted, only child who is about to start a new school.
She calls herself strange. She loves the number 7. Willow says she is of color while her parents are so white they are almost blue. She has an obsession with medical diseases and likes to sit at shopping malls where she can observe people and their difficulties.
Her other obsession is plants. Willow was first titled as weird in kindergarten when she told the teacher a book made her feel bad, then went on to talk about the germs on the floor.
An educational consultant told Willow s parents that she was highly gifted. For this reason, her parents helped her cultivate a garden to stimulate her mind and give her a hobby. In Chapter 3, Willow s garden became a family project.
The garden gave her a window into different forms of companionship. At age eight, she rescued and nursed back to health a baby green rumped parrot that fell from the nest.
Up to this point in her life, Williow s had only one close human friend, a girl named Margaret whose family moved to Canada. Willow and her parents hoped that her move to Sequoia Middle School would signal a change for her. She studied up on teenage relationships and decided she would wear her gardening outfit on her first day of school.
She suspected one of her parents put a magazine on her bed with an article about what a person s clothes say about them even though neither of them would take responsibility for it. In Chapter 4, Willow thought she was ready for middle school because she was prepared on an academic level.
When she got there, she realized she wasn t. Girls were screaming, boys seemed to be attacking each other. One girl even thought Willow was a janitor because of the way she was dressed. After three hours she called her mom to pick her up. On the seventh day of middle school, Willow aced a standardized test. She was called to the office and told she would be required to see a behavioral counselor because the teacher thought she cheated. Her counselor s name was Dell Duke.
Willow Chance is an adopted girl who has just learned that her adoptive parents have been killed. Willow gives the reader a bit of her background in these chapters. She describes herself as being of color probably meaning she is of African American heritage but her parents are white. Family is important in this novel, particularly the idea that a group of people doesn t have to be the traditional mom, dad and kids all of the same race, to be a family.
Willow is also highly intelligent. She likes to study other peoples medical conditions, diagnose them and suggest treatments. She enjoys conducting experiments. Because she spends so much time doing brain activity, and not much cultivating relationships, she and her parents transform their yard into a garden.
The project is meant to give Willow an outlet to experience different types of companionship. Willow s closeness to her garden is displayed by the way she often describes things in terms of gardens and nature. For instance, when she is sent to the principal s office after making a perfect score on a standardized test, she describes the other students as buzzing like pollen soaked worker bees in Chapter 4.
She also tries to make a joke as she tells them the human corpse flower has blossomed. She is right when she assumes no one gets the correlation she has made between herself and the unique flower that has just bloomed in her garden. This reference to her garden and her description of the way her garden is her refuge sets the stage for the theme of plants which will appear throughout the novel.
Because plants are the things with which Willow has learned to socialize, she interprets her life and the things around her in terms of nature. Several themes are introduced in this section of the novel. Since Willow s parents have just been killed, grief and the stages one goes through while grieving are important. This theme is introduced by Willow s desire to go back in time once she d learned her parents were gone.
Another theme that is introduced is that of the frustration that comes with being put in a category. Willow has been categorized since she was in kindergarten when the other children called her a weirdo.
At the suggestion of her teacher, Willow s parents take her to an educational consultant. This consultant tells Willow s parents that Willow is highly gifted. Willow believes it is bad to see a person as just one thing. She believes each person is made of many characteristics that make them who they are.
Note also Willow s obsession with certain things, like the number 7. This number is her favorite number. One of her escape techniques is to count by sevens. Her parents adopted her on the 7th day of the 7th month making seven is an important number in Willow s life. Also important to her is the color red. She indicates she likes this color because it is important in nature. The color red will continue to be seen throughout the novel. Notice that although Willow is only a child, she has a very realistic grip of her own affect on people.
She knows she s strange. She seems okay with it. She s searching for people who will accept her for who she is instead of trying to change to fit the world s expectations of her. While her adoptive parents seem to want to cultivate her intelligence and give her other means of companionship, the garden for instance, they seem to prod her a bit to outwardly be more normal.
For instance, they don t make any comment to Willow when she announces she plans to wear her gardening outfit on the first day of school but their behavior indicates they don t approve. Later, however, a teen magazine about the message one sends by the clothes they wear show up on Willow s bed.
It seems her parents are underhandedly trying to give Willow advice on how to fit in without taking responsibility. Willow, however, persists at being herself. Also important to notice in this section is the shift in tense that takes place in Chapter 2.
Chapter 1 is written in the first person point of view. Although it is indicated in the beginning of Chapter 2 the time frame is two months prior to her parents death, the first portion about 6 pages is written in the present tense. After Willow describes her garden, and turns her focus back to her first days in school, the tense turns to the future. The remainder of Chapter 2 as well as Chapters 3 and 4 are written in past tense. What might you have thought of her if you d had her as a classmate?
Discussion Question 2 How does Willow s garden substitute for human companionship? Why do you think it is noted Willow believes her parents encouraged the gardening because plants don t talk back? Discussion Question 3 What is Willow s opinion of the labels given to people? Do you agree with her opinion? Why or why not? As the newest counselor, he has been assigned the kids the other two counselors don t want. He s imitated the retired counselor s idea of putting the kids into categories, but had no intention of doing as much work as his predecessor.
His system is called the Dell Duke Counseling System where he put his students into four groups of strange: misfits, oddballs, lone wolves, and weirdoes. Instead of labeling his professional files with these titles, he d given each category a number and color to represent it. When Willow appeared in his office one day, however, Dell found she defied his attempt to categorize her.
In Chapter 6, Willow quickly decided Dell was not healthy and wished she could take his blood pressure. As he talked, she considered calculating the calories in the jellybeans on his desk, but then decided counting them by sevens would be more fun. She had not told her parents she d been assigned to a counselor because she wanted them to think the school year was going well. She felt guilty because she d erased the message about the test results from her parents voic and hacked her mother s to respond to the principal s message that she needed counseling.
In her counseling session, Dell decided to play a word association game with Willow. Willow was intrigued by her counselor when he made a comment about female lemurs being the leaders of their packs. In Chapter 7, Dell realized the only reason he knew about the lemurs was because of a nature program he d fallen asleep watching.
He was almost inspired by Willow s intelligence. He decided he needed to add a new category to his classification system. He deemed Willow a genius, a category he coded metallic gold.
In Chapter 8, Willow noticed her teachers and fellow students treated her differently after she was called to the principal s office for cheating, but she began looking forward to her meetings with Dell. At her next session, Dell gave her more standardized tests, all of which she aced. He wanted her to come back the next day for another session. When she arrived that day in Dell s office, she saw two other people already there.
There was a boy who was coloring in a geometric coloring book while a girl was sitting with him. The girl told her she could come in as they were almost done. Dell had gone for a soda, she said.
As Willow waited, she studied the girl next to her. She found her interesting and wondered if she was Native American. Analysis Dell and Willow s counseling sessions make up the main topic of these four chapters. Although Willow had been sent to counseling because her teacher believed she had cheated on a standardized test, Dell soon realized this was not the case.
He was both excited and cautious because he was dealing with a type of student he d never had experience with before. These chapters are important because they give the background on how Willow came to be seeing a guidance counselor. They detail Dell s interest in this child who is unlike any he s ever counseled before.
They also tell how Willow became aquatinted with Mai, the girl she met in Dell s office. The theme of categorization is furthered in these chapters as it is described how Dell came up with four categories in which to place any student he counseled.
The shortfalls in his system were uncovered when Willow came to his office and he had to create a new category because he couldn t force her into any of the ones he d already created. Dell is a major character in the novel so it is important to study his personality as it is described in this section of chapters.
He seemed to have had high ambitions for himself that never quite worked out the way he wanted them to. He doesn t seem to have any family or friends that care about him, as it is pointed out he never even had a farewell party when he left Walla Walla, Washington because no one cared he was going. He seems content to get by with as little work and as little effort as possible. He s overweight, his clothes and hair are unkept and he s lazy.
With Willow s interest in health conditions, she observes him and quickly determines that he is unhealthy. She advises him to get his blood pressure checked.
Note in Chapter 5 that the point of view changes from the first person point of view of Willow to a third person narrator focusing on Willow s story from Dell s point of view. This is a technique the writer uses to not only allow Willow to tell her own story, but to get the input of other characters on what is going on in the background as they discover Willow s unusual intelligence and strange personality.
Chapter 7 is also written in third person with a focus on Dell. Chapters 6 and 8, however, are both written from a first person point of view.
Discussion Question 1 Consider Dell s classification system. Is it fair to the students? Is he doing them any favors? Discussion Question 2 Why does Dell have trouble classifying Willow?
Do you believe he is correct in tagging her as a genius?
Discussion Question 3 Why does Willow not tell her parents she is being required to go to counseling? How does she describe her feelings of guilt? Mai accompanied her brother to his counseling sessions, then they would walk to Happy Polish Nails, the salon their mother owned. Their mother had been outcast by her Vietnamese family because she was the child of a black American soldier.
She was given a chance in America as a teenager where she went to live in California. She changed her name from her Vietnamese name, which was Dung to Pattie. She had two children with a Mexican who left them, claiming to go visit a sick brother but never coming back.
Instead of giving Quang ha a real session, Dell had assigned him to complete three pages of a geometric coloring book, and then left, claiming he was going for a soda. He returned instead with a pet carrier after Willow had already arrived for her session.
He was angry because Quang ha hadn t left when he was told to. When he yelled at Quang ha, Mai responded, calling Dell out for not having a real counseling session with her brother and for being late to Willow s appointment.
In Chapter 10, Willow was impressed with Mai s outburst, but Dell chose not to respond. In order to change the subject, he opened the pet carrier and introduced his pet cat, Cheddar. Willow believed this was Dell s attempt to bond with her. All those in the office were surprised when Cheddar ran out of the office into the parking lot. They searched the parking lot but weren t able to find the cat.
The kids made lost cat posters hoping someone would return Cheddar. Willow was surprised that Mai and Quang ha accepted her input into the project even though she wasn t trying to act any differently than she usually did. At home later that day, Willow decided to learn all she could about lost cats and the Vietnamese culture. In Chapter 11, when Dell and the students arrived at Willow s house, Mai was intrigued by the garden she was able to get glimpses of behind the house.
She wondered if Willow s parents owned a plant nursery. Dell dropped off Quang ha and Mai, then headed for home, past the school district offices. He saw Cheddar, but didn t even stop. He had responded to a lost cat ad in the paper, but in reality, Cheddar wasn t even his. Dell was most troubled by the picture of Cheddar that Quang ho had drawn as it is showed the boy had artistic talent.
In Dell s categorization system, the slot to which Dell has assigned Quang ha indicated he should not have this talent. Once inside his possession choked apartment, Dell heated a microwavable meatloaf and ate all three servings. He fell asleep on the patio furniture he used for living room furniture then later moved to the bedroom where he slept in a sleeping bag.
In Chapter 12, Willow ordered a taxi to pick her up for her next counseling session so she could get there more quickly and be more likely to meet up with Mai and Quang ha.
When she arrived at her destination she told the taxi driver to never let anyone tell him he couldn t do something. Even though she was referring to her pride in her successful taxi ride, she suspected the taxi driver thought she was talking about him.
At the counseling trailer, Willow greeted Mai in Vietnamese. Mai was impressed and in turn asked Willow about her garden.
During her session, Dell asked Willow economics questions, a topic in which Willow tried to tell him she had very little interest. I study myself, of course. But my illnesses have been minor and not life-threatening. The only reason that I regularly leave the house not counting going to the forced-prison-camp also known as middle school and my weekly trip to the central library is to observe sickness in the general population.
It would always be my first choice to sit for several hours every day in a hospital, but it turns out that nursing staffs have a problem with that. So I visit the local shopping mall, which fortunately has its share of disease. My second interest: plants. They are living, growing, reproducing, pushing and pulling in the ground all around us at all times.
We accept that without even noticing. Open your eyes, people. If plants made sounds, it would all be different. But they communicate with color and shape and size and texture.
Right now. You catch sight of swaying grass in a wide field. Weeds pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk are in the distance somewhere. We are surrounded. With a capital A. My hometown, like a lot of the central valley of California, has a desert climate and is flat and dry and very hot for over half of the year.
We call it summer. Despite the heat, there is no escaping the fact that the bright sun and rich soil make the area ideal for growing things once you add water to the equation. And I did. So where once our house had a rectangle of grass, there is now a forty-foot-high stand of timber bamboo. I have citrus trees orange, grapefruit, and lime next to my year-round vegetable garden.
I grow grapes, a variety of vines, annual and perennial flowers, and, in one small area, tropical plants. To know me is to know my garden. It is my sanctuary. What was my first nightmare about? How did the first step really feel? What was the decision-making process when it came time to ditch the diapers? My parents said the place was going to be all kinds of fun.
The school was only blocks from our house, and it was here that I first committed the crime of questioning the system. Fans of Stargirl and Wonder will appreciate the way that this book takes on tough subjects and approaches the differences between people. These differences are looked at as a good thing, because the main character, Willow, loves everyone the way they are and enjoys being herself.
Many of her hobbies include things that tend to be out of the norm for middle school students, and she also happens to be the top student in her class. Perspectives within the novel switch between a third-person and first person, in which Willow is the narrator. The two main characters, Mai and Dell Duke are written in third person. Other characters that make occasional appearances shine in lengthier chapters.
These split up said chapters.