West with Giraffes
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1.   Woody was looking for a way to get to California when he found out the giraffes needed a driver. Having already escaped the West (the Texas panhandle) and the Dust Bowl, what do you think Woody expected to find in California? 

2.   Red is the young reporter who follows the giraffe truck across the country. She is married to a much older man, and Woody is just beginning his life, although they are close in age. Do you think their lives are as different as they seem on the surface? Could they have built a relationship and a life together under different circumstances?

3.   Red has a bucket list, including famous people she’d like to meet before she dies. Do you have a list like that? If you do (or if you were to write one), who would be on your list?

4.    The Old Man, who is driving the truck with Woody, is a complicated character. What do you think he and Woody learned from each other?

5.   The book is told as a journal Woody writes, addressed to a “You” who is not identified until the end of the book. Did that person’s identity surprise you? Who else do you think it could have been written to?

6.   The book is based on a true story and includes some real life characters alongside fictional characters like Woody. Do you think the newspaper clippings throughout the novel — which are taken from real papers and are nearly verbatim — add to the authenticity of the story?

7.   One of the real life characters is Belle Benchley, the woman director of the San Diego Zoo. Although she ran the zoo for years, her title remained “Secretary” due to sexist ideas about what jobs women could do. Were you surprised to read that the (male) zookeepers loved her? 

8.   Zoos are somewhat controversial for their methods, criticized for keeping animals in cages but appreciated for preserving endangered species. What do you think about zoos, both then and now? Do you think that in the 1930s a zoo was a better environment for animals than a circus?

9.   Do you think humans owe it to animals to protect endangered species? How have we been affected by the past extinctions of species like The Old Man’s (carrier) pigeons?

10.                How much do the things we go through as children and young adults shape the people we become? How did Woody’s adventures shape the version of himself who writes down his story?


 * Some questions from TBR.

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