Penguin.com (usa)

Reading Guides

Hope Was Here
Joan Bauer
Paperback
$7.99
add to cart
Read more...

Backwater
Joan Bauer
Paperback
$7.99
add to cart
Read more...

Rules of the Road
Joan Bauer
Paperback
$7.99
add to cart
Read more...

HOPE WAS HERE

When sixteen-year-old Hope and the aunt who has raised her move from Brooklyn to Mulhoney, Wisconsin, to work as waitress and cook in the Welcome Stairways diner, they become involved with the diner owner's political campaign to oust the town's corrupt mayor.

BACKWATER

Ivy doesn't want to be a lawyer. Who cares?-well, her father, for starters, who expects his daughter to take up the Breedlove family profession with dedication and enthusiasm. What Ivy wants to be is a historian, a vocation that's getting quite a workout as she prepares a family history in honor of her beloved great-aunt Tib's eightieth birthday. As in Bauer's Rules of the Road, the central story is of a journey: Ivy hikes into the wilds of the Adirondacks to find her reclusive aunt Jo-and to find her own destiny as well. Persistent, mouthy, and good, Ivy is an admirable heroine who will be familiar to Bauer fans; older female friends (including Tib, Aunt Jo, and wilderness expert Mountain Mama) are equally attractive if given to message-laden dialogue. In fact, the book could have used less preaching and more story overall, but Ivy is such a darned fine gal that readers will be glad to make her acquaintance.

RULES OF THE ROAD

Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5'11'' at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn't stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone's Shoes 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to stop Elden Gladstone from taking over his mother's company and turning a quality business into a shop-and-schlock empire. Now Jenna Boller shoe salesperson is about to become a shoe-store spy as she joins her crusty old employer for an eye-opening adventure that will teach them both the rules of the road and the rules of life.

 

ABOUT JOAN BAUER

Joan BauerJoan Bauer was born in River Forest, Illinois, the eldest of three sisters. Her mother was a schoolteacher with a great comic sense; her father, a salesman that no one could say no to. Her maternal grandmother had been a famous storyteller and had a striking effect on Bauer's early years. "She would tell me stories with five different voices and as many dialects. I would sit on her enormous lap transfixed at how she could teach me about life and make me laugh through her stories. She taught me the significance of humor and how it intersects our daily lives."

Bauer managed an eclectic list of jobs from assistant typing teacher at age twelve to high school waitress. In her early twenties, she was a successful advertising and marketing salesperson. Professional writing for magazines and newspapers followed, then screenwriting, which was cut short by a serious car accident. She regrouped and wrote Squashed, which won the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel. Five novels for young adult readers have followed: Thwonk, Sticks, Rules of the Road, Backwater and Hope was Here (Newbery Honor Medal).

Joan lives in Darien, CT with her husband and daughter.

Praise

"Ivy Breedlove is another strong and quirky heroine who addresses serious issues head on."The New York Times Book Review

"A fast and funny tale of one big-boned (and big-hearted) gal's summer of discovery on the road."The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Recommended Reading and Sites

If you enjoyed the works of Joan Bauer, we have some other titles to suggest. In some cases, the recommended books contain good humor, sometimes the related books feature young men facing obstacles in their lives. Finally, some of these books feature heroic females as main characters.

Books to Make You Laugh:

KEEPING THE MOON by Sarah Dessen
Viking Children's Books
HC: 0-670-88549-5, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-131007-3, $5.99 ($8.99 CAN)

GYPSY RIZKA by Lloyd Alexander
Dutton Children's Books
HC: 0-525-46121-3, $16.99 ($26.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-130980-6, $4.99 ($6.00 CAN)

Where the Boys Are:

OVER THE WALL by John H. Ritter
Philomel Books
HC: 0-399-23489-6, $17.99 ($25.99 CAN)

BOLTZMON! by William Sleator
Dutton Children's Books
HC: 0-525-46131-0, $15.99 ($24.99 CAN)

Strong Women:

THE OTHER ONES by Jean Thesman
Viking Children's Books
HC: 0-670-88594-0, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)

CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN by Carol Lynch Williams
G. P. Putnam's Sons
HC: 0-399-23449-7, $16.99 ($23.99 CAN)

DESTINY by Vicki Grove
G. P. Putnam's Sons
HC: 0-399-23449-7, $16.99 ($23.99 CAN)

THE GIRLS by Amy Goldman Koss
Dial Books for Young Readers
HC: 0-8037-2494-2, $16.99 ($25.99 CAN)

Internet Sites of Interest:

Joan Bauer website

www.joanbauer.com

The official website of the author.

Virginia Tech Digital Library

http://borg.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/winter96/bauer.htm

Here is an article written by Joan Bauer on writing books with humor entitled "Humor, Seriously."

New York State Library

www.nysl.nysed.gov

This will link you to the New York State Library, where you can discover lots of interesting information about the Adirondack Mountains, site of much of the novel, Backwater.

Wisonsin Directory of Attractions

www.wistravel.com

Lots of details about Wisconsin, the setting of Hope Was Here.

Finally, type in the word "shoes" into a search engine and see where the road leads you! Rules of the Road is about finding your own way, after all.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOAN BAUER

Why is humor so vital to your writing?

Because humor is so vital in my life. When I utilize humor in my writing, I'm connecting to a deep place in myself that says, "no matter how bad things get, there is hope." I believe that with all of my heart. That's what I love about humorat least the kind that makes us look at life's difficulties differentlylaughing in the midst of pain says to me that we are already on the road moving away from it. We're going to make it. I'd like to think that readers connect to that sentiment, too. We need to laugh for so many reasons. It brings perspective; it brings healing; it builds relationships; it brings release. People have asked me if I would ever write a "totally serious book." I have to say that I do write totally serious books that use laughter against the storm of life.

Your novels do deal with serious subjects. How hard is it to walk the fine line between laughter and tragedy?

It's brutal sometimes. I agonize over words, motives. I do not want anyone to think I am making fun of alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, death, divorce, being overweight. But here's the thing: my first drafts are rarely funny and I am grimly sober while writing them. But I am getting down to the serious underpinnings of the story. Then I do look and see where the funny voice can break through. I see where comic relief can cushion a hard scene. I ask myself constantly, where can the humor break forth here and make a point?

How are you like Hope?

I'm hopeful like she is, and I've had to fight to stay that way. It isn't my natural state. I work at hopefulness. I don't expect life to be easy. Like her, I am an over-comer. I had a deep need as a teen to have a healthy fathermine was an alcoholic. I was a waitress as a teen and a good one. I love food; it is a passion for me. I have also had to work on my anger over the years. Hope and I are very alike.

But here is where we are different. I never moved from place to place. I lived with my mom, grandmother, and two sisters in the same house. Hope has a good sense of herself, what she is good at and what she's not. I didn't have that much when I was a teenager.

She is more patient than I and better able to absorb the quirkiness of people around her. One of the things I like bear about her is the fact she has great faith that her father is going to find her and she keeps these scrapbooks for him so that when he finally shows up she'll be ready to tell him about her life. I would have never done that.

What is a typical day at the "office" like for you?

I try to clear my mind for the work ahead. I try to remember what Ernest Hemingway said about writing: Stop for the day when you've written something you feel good about. That makes it easier to get back to it the next morning. I don't wait for inspiration; I just go to work. More and more I read things out loud to check for authenticity of voice. I did that a great deal for Hope was Here. One of the big words in my life is "revision." It's kind of like labor and delivery. The baby is coming out and you don't have a lot to say about it.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Titles always hold special significance to the story. For example, how does the title Hope Was Here focus your attention as a reader? Other than the literal reference, what else does the title suggest about the book? Does it tell you the truth? What about the titles of Backwater and Rules of the Road? How does each indicate the literal and symbolic natures of the stories?
     
  2. Hope's name is pivotal to the development of her character and to the development of the story. How do the various definitions of the word "hope" add to the story? See, for example, the reference made on page 22.
     
  3. There are other important symbols in this story. What roles do each of the following play in terms of developing character, advancing the plot, or serving as foreshadowing? Are there other symbols essential to the story? If so, what are they?

    · Day lily (page 85)

    · Welcome stairways (page 14)
     

  4. In each of Bauer's works, it is important to the main character that she provide some sense of comfort to the people she encounters. For Jenna in Rules of the Road, comfort comes in the form of the perfect show for each customer. How does Hope provide that measure of comfort? What does this tell you about her character? How about Ivy Breedlove in Backwater?
     
  5. Fathers are a central concern to the characters in Hope Was Here, Backwater, and Rules of the Road. Discuss the similarities and differences among the fathers of Hope, Ivy, and Jenna.
     
  6. Ultimately, all characters leave their mark on us as readers. How does Hope leave her mark literally and figuratively? How do Ivy and Jenna leave their marks?
     
  7. Why is humor such an essential ingredient in each of Joan Bauer's books? How would the stories change if they were somehow more "serious" in tone? How would your response to the story be affected?
     
  8. Occasionally, we are swayed to purchase a book because the title is intriguing, Bauer used the title Welcome Stairways as she wrote Hope Was Here. The title changed after the story was completed. What reaction do you have to the working title? Might the working title affect your reaction to the book? What alternative titles might you suggest for Rules of the Road and Backwater?