Join our mailing list!
Get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.
Reading Group Guide forSaucy
By Cynthia KadohataAbout the Book
As the oldest in a set of quadruplets, Becca doesn’t feel like she plays any special role in her family. One day, when her family is out for a walk, they find a sick, abandoned piglet by the side of the road. Becca convinces everyone that she can take care of her, and names her piglet Saucy. Soon Saucy has taken over Becca’s family’s hearts and household, but not without destruction and mayhem! As Saucy grows bigger and bigger, Becca must figure out what to do with her pig and how to stop her from destroying any more of the family home. What follows is a journey of discovery for Becca, both in learning more about herself and where Saucy came from. Filled with humor and engaging family dynamics, Saucy
is a heartwarming story of the surprising friendship between a young girl and her pig.Prereading activities
1. Become familiar with pigs and their traits using the National Geographic website (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/pig/).
2. What are sanctuaries? Use the PETA for Kids website (https://www.petakids.com/save-animals/)
to learn more about sanctuaries and how they compare to zoos.
3. Look at the pictures and the chapter headings used in Saucy
. Can you predict what the story might be about without reading the text?Discussion Questions
1. Becca’s dad is famous for using clichés. For example, “being on cloud nine” or “a new lease on life.” Why do you think he does this? In your reading journal, or on the board as a class, keep a list of the clichés Becca’s dad uses and how they fit each moment of the story.
2. Becca is part of a set of quadruplets. Why is this important to the book’s events? How does it affect the way Becca views herself? What does Becca see as special about each of her siblings? What is special about Becca that she doesn’t realize?
3. What does Becca mean when she says she’s a jellyfish and her brothers are sharks?
4. Becca finds an abandoned little pig on a family walk and insists on keeping her as a pet. Why is this so important to her? What motivates her to keep the animal? Why does she name her Saucy?
5. As Saucy becomes a part of Becca’s family, things start to go wrong. In fact, Becca has a list of forty-nine things that Saucy has ruined or done. Find three or four examples of the trouble Saucy has caused; then explain why these situations are problematic, and how Becca might make it up to her family. Brainstorm ways she might do this without using money to pay her parents back.
6. When Becca leaves the veterinarian hospital, she offers to come back to visit the animals and help clean up. She’s told that this is not necessary and that she should continue “just being [herself].” What does this statement mean to you? What do you think it means to Becca? Do you find it easy or challenging to “be yourself”? Does this change in certain situations?
7. Compare and contrast the care and feeding of a pig with a dog, cat, or other common household pet. Create a chart that shows the similarities and differences between food, housing needs, vet visits, and other costs.
8. Why does Becca feel a sense of peace when she is with Saucy? What makes you feel that way? Explain your answers.
9. Everything with Saucy seems to happen for a reason. What is the significance of Saucy biting Mom in the garden? What happens after this?
10. The phrase “between a rock and a hard place” is another cliché. What is Becca’s rock and hard place with Saucy? Can you think of a rock and a hard place for yourself?
11. Becca says, “I’m only Becca, and my pig is gone, and I don’t have a best friend.” She’s afraid to make new friends and thinks she’s a coward for feeling this way. If you were her brother or sister, what advice would you give her? How would you help encourage her? Why can it be challenging to find confidence?
12. Do you think the family makes the right choice by giving Saucy to a sanctuary? Explain your answer. What would you have done if you were in their shoes?
13. Why is the last walk with Saucy so important for the family? What happens during that walk and later on as a result of this time together? Why is this an important moment for Becca?
14. Why do the kids sneak back out after their family walk? What is their plan? Do you agree or disagree with their decisions? Explain your answer. What other suggestions might you have for them about ways they can address their concerns?
15. How does the community react to the discovery of the pig farm and its treatment of pigs? How might you become involved if you heard about a similar situation in your area?
16. Becca is feeling terrible and sad about taking the piglets to the sanctuary. Her brother K.C. finds the Portuguese word saudade
, which means “The pleasure I suffer,” to help them reflect and process. How does this word explain Becca’s feelings and those of her brother’s? Why is this an important moment in the story?
17. The author, Cynthia Kadohata, interviewed a number of people who own or have worked with pigs extensively. The emotions Saucy displays reflect actual real-life details from real-life pig owners. Name some of these scenes and reactions in the text. What is Saucy doing during these moments? How do these occasions change or add to your understanding of Saucy or your perception of her situation? How can you tell if the animals in your life are feeling happy, afraid, or upset?
18. What do the illustrations add to the story? What do you learn from them? Think about experiencing a story through different mediums, including how it might feel to listen to the audiobook of Saucy
. How might hearing the character’s voices rather than reading the words on a page change the way you feel about the story?
19. Name at least one other story in which a pig or another animal plays an important role. Compare and contrast these stories with Saucy
. For example, consider using Charlotte’s Web
, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins
, or books from the Mercy Watson series. Extension Activities
1. Becca likes taking selfies of herself and her brothers. Take selfies of yourself, your family, your pet(s), or items that are important to you in different settings and at different times. Create a collage that represents all the different moments and moods in your life. How do you feel seeing all these images in one place?
2. Two truths and a lie, pig edition: using index cards, write down two facts and one lie about pigs. You should have one fact or lie on each card. The incorrect statement can be wild and wacky, or it can sound reasonable enough to be true. Then share your three statements in a small group or with a partner. Can your classmates tell which statements are facts, and which is the lie? What do you notice about the way people try to decide? What is the most surprising fact you learn?
3. Write the next chapter in Saucy’s life. Imagine the situation if Becca were to go to the sanctuary six months later to visit Saucy. What would the chapter heading be? What would happen when they see each other again? Would Saucy remember her? Is Saucy happy in her new home? Is Becca still spending time with animals?
4. Select a scene in the book that would make for a good Reader’s Theater or a skit. If you’re focusing on a skit, work in groups of four to write a script with original dialogue, then practice the skit before performing it for the class. For a Reader’s Theater, follow the recommendations found in this Reader’s Theater guide
5. Investigate the characteristics of pigs. Working in a small group, describe a typical day and then a year in the life of a pig for the rest of your classmates. Using information each group shares, work with your group members to write and illustrate a nonfiction children’s book on the wonders of pigs. Ask your teacher if you can display the children’s book in your school or public library.
6. Find out more about the author, Cynthia Kadohata, and other books she has written. Which one seems like it would be most interesting to read next, and why? Use the author’s website, https://cynthiakadohata.com/index.html
or a site such as TeachingBooks to find out more about the author, view book trailers, and more.
7. Create a book trailer for Saucy
by using a program available for use in your classroom or library such as Animoto, Google slides, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Shadow puppet EDU (a free app), or WeVideo. Don’t forgot to include these components: Write a script
Don’t copy the jacket text; think about your favorite parts of the story, and what might entice readers. Make sure text and images align. Start strong
Grab people’s attention right away! Keep it steady
If using a camera or phone, use a tripod or fixed position when filming. Don’t have someone else hold it for you! Keep it simple
Think of the strongest themes in the book and how to convey them in the most succinct, interesting way. Don’t just summarize
Hint at the story, and don’t spoil the ending. Choose music carefully
Watch out for copyright, or compose your own.
8. If Becca and her family were interested in trying to find a forever home for Saucy, how might they do this? Write a “needs a new forever home” ad for Saucy. What would your ad say to convince people to adopt her?Reading Group Guide created by Sharon Haupt, Former District Librarian - San Luis Coastal Unified School District (retired); current Reference Librarian and Children’s collection Development, Cuesta College. This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. For more Simon & Schuster guides and classroom materials, please visit simonandschuster.net or simonandschuster.net/thebookpantry.