(B) Ages 4-8, (C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, (F) Ages 15-18
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Bird Boy Project: Discussion Forum 3 (and our third giveaway!)

Chapters 14-19

This section sees Roy Ray delivered to an entirely new setting, with new characters that, as we learn, are not entirely new.  We’re still in the “mushy middle” of the story, where the action could bog down if an author isn’t careful.  I hope that’s not happening for you, but let me know if it does.

In each quarter, Roy Ray has overcome one great challenge.  The first was signing up for training with Mr. G, and continuing with it when the going got rough.  The second was carrying on after the loss of his mentor.  In Chapter 19 he falls into the hands of the enemy and faces his greatest challenge yet: an actual spiritual crisis.  Chapter 19 is what I call the “turning-point climax” of the story.

We’re accustomed to thinking of the climax as the high point of the action: the big confrontation between hero and villain, or the last battle, or whatever fits.   But there’s another way to think of a climax: as the point where all the major choices have been made.  Up to then, options are open: run or fight, sink or swim, left or right.  But after the turning point, only one option is open, and what remains is to see how that one plays out.  In the last chapters we’ll see a final confrontation (or more than one), but Roy Ray’s has made his choice, and further events, exciting and climax-y as they may be, are just how that choice works out.

A few questions:

Are you clear about who the villains are? and what they are?

Do you know what they want?

Do you have any ideas about what will happen next, and who will get out of the underground bunker?

This week, our giveaways are two great resources for teens: face time is especially helpful girls who need to center themselves in something other than likes and clicks.  This Changes Everything is a refresher course in Christian living for young adults heading into the wider world, whether it be college or career.  Teens have to own what they believe—just like Roy Ray!

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  1. Ch. 14.

    Does it seem reasonable that he should still be doubting Mr. G? No. Mr. G. has constantly seemed to be the weaker of the two parties (running, evading, even Roy Ray’s questions). All the cues are that Mr. G. is a good actor with regrets. That said, Roy Ray is “just a kid” and could misunderstand that.

    Ch 15.

    Who is Emgee? I thought it was Mr. G, transliterated. The pantomime was great.

    Ch 16.

    I enjoyed the “evil outpost” reveal. It reminds me of the late stages in a video game titled Portal. In this game you are escaping from a big facility, but you’re not sure how big or how old parts of it are. I got a similar sense in this chapter. Are they in the old mine? Not enough time passed to get too far.

    What do you think? Is evil “basically stupid, or insane,” or both? I think we can agree it is occasionally clever. I really liked this line. It jumped out at me. I credited the description of “stupid” to frustration and anger that evil has the wrong facts and took “insane” to be the deeper non-moral flaw. “Occasionally clever” was a fantastic backhanded compliment which, when coupled with “insane,” paints a fantastic picture.

    Ch 17.

    Have you noticed Mr. G “always got a little dodgy when the subject of his wings came up”? Any guesses as to why that is? It just dawned on me – everyone can fly. Mr. G doesn’t have wings like Roy Ray. I just thought this and need to skim everything to see if it fits.

    Also, any more guesses about where the sounds on the radio come from? Not sure. If Mr. G doesn’t have wings, yet can tap into this channel, perhaps he is far more dangerous than the enemy understands.

    “The enemy is powerful but limited. We are weak but unlimited. A small defeat can lead to a large victory.” Discuss. When you say a small defeat of a powerful enemy can lead to a large victory, that makes me think that the enemy isn’t so much “limited” but “fragile.” I don’t know if that models what this wisdom is driving at or not.

    Did you remember the Professor’s name? I’m horrendous with names, both in life and reading. It tickled a memory.

    Why does Mr. G remark that Delphi’s name is “appropriate”? It is the town where two eagles met after circling the world? Roy Ray is important and Mr. G is… well… mysterious.

    Ch 19.

    This is a “turning point” chapter. Roy Ray turns a big corner: what is it? Does it seem to be adequately prepared for? I think Roy Ray’s moment of resolution is after he wakes up in his room tempted by more food, and again throws it all away. It’s well prepared for with the constant, patient temptations. I really like that Mr. G is absolved of bad intentions by his personal sacrifice for Roy Ray. That closes a plot hole others might have let slide by and just assume was closed.

  2. Despite my best efforts and intentions, we’re behind after our trip! So I can’t speak to the questions above, but I will say that my daughter says, “It’s perfect as it is. No need to change anything.” All three kids are enjoying it, and they eagerly beg for “just one more chapter” (which I can grant right now since we’re doing a bit of catching up).

    I’m still thinking the rising action is just a touch slow, but maybe that’s because we’re reading it slowly? I’m not sure what I’d cut, unless it’s just some of the descriptive one-liners (although so many of them provide the humor! And my boys LOVE the humor!). No one seems fazed by bird terminology anymore, so either there is no new terminology or they’re fully into the swing of things (some of the bird terms tripped them up in the earlier chapters).

    Another thought that’s been slowly forming as I read with the kids: some of the details feel a trifle dated. I can’t decide what the time period is actually supposed to be, but it feels like a contemporary story until mention of things like Aunt Agnes’s typewriter make me pause. Technology is so hard to place, isn’t it? You don’t want to over do the contemporary tech or the book becomes dated even faster…. but I’m thinking a computer for Aunt Agnes (as an example) wouldn’t hurt.

    • Interesting point about the typewriter, Betsy. I see Aunt Ag, and actually the whole town, as being a little behind the times. I’ll think about that.

  3. Andrea says

    We are enjoying the story – the one complaint is that we have to wait for the next chapter. If we had the whole book, we would have certainly been able to grant “just one more” a few times. That has not changed the excitement about being a part of this process.

    Some of the dialogue has been hard to read aloud. Beginning with the “Roy Ray” tongue twister to Bat Boy’s unpronounceable words, it has been a challenge to keep the dialogue running smoothly. I have also gotten tripped up in dialogue between Roy Ray and Delphi (having a hard time keeping up with who says which line – probably due to distractions here).

    We have had to look several things up – the meaning of Delphi, obstreperous, some of the avial terms, etc. There are several things that have needed more explanation for my kids too (tabloids, Area 51). As a homeschool mom, I appreciate the opportunity to increase knowledge – but I’m not sure my kids would do as much of that extra looking on their own (they would just continue reading and use contextual clues if possible).

    • This is exactly what I need to know, Andrea–I’ll need to figure out some way of making certain terms understood.

  4. I just started, so here are a few comments from the beginning;
    The prologue is fine. The person narrating it seemed like a boy. If you called it the first chapter, then everyone would read it (since some say they skip prologues.).

    Chapter 2,
    Roy Ray, when he is being let go from being kidnapped, had bright sunlight slap him
    in the face…but he still had a potato sack over his head! Also, I didn’t catch that he
    was being set free. Had to go back and reread that paragraph.

    General comments–wings would be a pain in a world of humans that didn’t have them! They would make it hard to sleep in a bed.
    Roy Ray’s parents don’t seem worried at all about all this training by a weird stranger.

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