Would you eat cat tails? (p. 36)
This question might be asked about nearly everything Sam eats or tries – from flowers and bark, to mushrooms and nuts, to crickets and rabbit liver. Students might enjoy making a list of all the things Sam eats (or tries to eat). They could keep it privately, or in class, or at home. Many students might enjoy actually having the opportunity to sample some wild foliage some time (while many others would, naturally, be repelled and reticent).
Read Rip Van Winkle
There is a reference (on p. 38) to “the story about the men who plays nine-pins in the Catskill Mountains?” This must be a reference to “Rip Van Winkle,” by Washington Irving, which takes place in the Catskill Mountains. There will probably be students or teachers or families who will enjoy making the connection and sharing/reading the story.
The forum in Sam’s head
Late in the book, Sam conducts a fascinating “forum” inside his head, imagining what various people who know him might say about what he should do next. (p. 160) Ask students to write – or even perform – their own “forum” in which they imagine what others (parents, teachers, siblings, friends) might say about their behavior. Could be a very interesting exercise – especially as a group (or class) project.
“I take the woods.”
– Sam says to a newspaper reporter, “The falcon takes the sky, the white-throated sparrow takes the low bushes, the skunk takes the earth, you take the newspaper office, I take the woods.” (p. 160)
– You might say this statment – “I take the woods” – is Sam’s credo and the theme of the book. Ask students what it means. You might also ask students to answer the question, “What do you take?” Or even ask them to devise – and explain – their own credo.