The Bean Trees

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Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Available for the first time in mass-market, this edition of Barbara Kingsolver's bestselling novel, The Bean Trees, will be in stores everywhere in September. With two different but equally handsome covers, this book is a fine addition to your Kingsolver library.

Curriculet Details
49 Questions
57 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9-10th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining fictive kinship, maternal instinct, and sense of belonging. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about plant life and desert biomes. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of theme, plot, and diction. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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One: The One to Get Away

We can tell a lot about the main character just by reading the first paragraph. (This annotation contains a video)
"Jesus bug" is the nickname for a type of bug that is known for walking on water. These bugs belong to a family called gerrids. There are 1,700 types of gerrids, but only 170 of them live near water. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the narrator consider to be one of her accomplishments in high school? 
This is the first clue we have gotten for the setting of the narrator's childhood. The narrator and her mother live in Kentucky. We will see more evidence of this as the story continues. 
In your own words, explain what the narrator means when she says "I'd dress memorable." Explain your answer in two to four sentences.  
The Jackson Purchase is referring to an area of land bought by American president Andrew Jackson. The land was added to the state of Kentucky. You can read more about it by following the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
We are learning more and more about the character's personality here. She is perhaps not the smartest person, but she is hard working and able to learn new things. Watch the video below to learn more about character development. (This annotation contains a video)
As it is used in this sentence, the word hoisting could be replaced with the word _____ and the meaning of the sentence would remain the same. 
Greens is a reference to collard greens, a leafy green vegetable like spinach or kale. Often times they are boiled or sauteed. One popular way to prepare them in the south is to boil them with ham and spicy red pepper flakes. (This annotation contains a link)
What word best describe the narrator's mother? 
The same president who arranged for the Jackson purchase kicked thousands of people of the Cherokee Nation out of their native lands and settled them in parts of the great plains. The famous movement of the Cherokee people at the hands of a suspicious government deal is called the Trail of Tears.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Taylor not leave the town as soon as her car is fixed? 
Taylor uses a simile to describe the bar. If you need to jog your memory on similes or other types of figurative language, watch the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain the type of figurative language being used in the text highlighted here. Explain what Taylor means when she says this. Write your sentence in two to four complete sentences. 
The warning of the lady from the bar seems to confirm Taylor's eerie feelings. This kind of warning contributes to the mood of this part of the story. Watch the video below to learn more about tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Taylor figure out the baby is alive? 
This is the first time Taylor notices something might be wrong with the baby. The baby's past is unknown, but we can start to put together that the baby probably suffered abuse. Perhaps that's why the woman at the bar wanted Taylor to take her. 

Two: New Year’s Pig

Based on the information you gathered from chapter one and the first paragraph of chapter two, what do Lou Ann and Taylor have in common? 
Here, the author is giving us background information on Lou Ann and Angel in a moment of exposition. Do you need a refresher on the parts of a plot? Watch the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is one thing Lou Ann enjoys about being pregnant? 
Both Chinook and Winnebago are real words in different Native American languages. Chinook means snow eater and is the name for the warm wind that comes in before summer. Winnebago means people of the dirty water. These aren't exactly beautiful names.  (This annotation contains a video)
All of the following tip off Lou Ann to Angel leaving her except 

Three: Jesus Is Lord Used Tires

In two or more complete sentences explain what Taylor means when she calls Arizona a foreign country. 
Taylor is a bit scared by the large tarantula she sees. The man from the gas station is right though. Tarantulas do have a poisonous venom, though there are no cases of it being deadly to humans.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Taylor nervous around the tire shop? 
The theme of being a mother is slowly emerging. Taylor is in charge of a baby, Lou Ann is about to be a mother, and now we see that Mattie is good with Turtle. Let's look for what the story has to say about motherhood. Watch the video below to learn more about emerging theme. (This annotation contains a video)
The best word to describe Mattie is 
National Geographic is a popular anthropology magazine about foreign people and cultures; Popular Mechanics is a magazine for electronics, home improvement, and auto repair; and The Beacon is probably referencing the Christian Beacon, an evangelical magazine. Seems as if Mattie has a wide range of interests. What else will we discover about her character that surprises us? 
Why does Taylor say she is going a bit crazy? 
Taylor isn't really made to fry chicken. The author uses lots of verbal irony to show Taylor's sense of humor. Watch the video below to learn more about verbal irony. (This annotation contains a video)

Four: Tug Fork Water

What are Lou Ann and her grandmother disagreeing about at the start of this chapter? 
Lou Ann has a flashback to her childhood here. She feels stuffed, but she hasn't actually eaten anything. The author is using figurative language to show the strong connection Lou Ann has with the memories of her past. Watch the video below to hear more about figurative language. (This annotation contains a video)
Lou Ann says that it's time to get the "grip packed." We can tell that grip is being used as a noun here. Ordinarily we think of grip as a verb. We can probably use the word "bag" in place of grip. When the same word can have multiple meanings, we call that a homonym. Watch the video below for a refresher.  (This annotation contains a video)
In two or more sentences, explain what Lou Ann means when she says that Angel "might as well not have moved back in."  
Heat, if intense enough, can make objects look as if they are moving. This is called refraction and is caused by the different rate that light passes through hot and cold air.  (This annotation contains a link)
What are Lou Ann's feelings about her husband's impending departure from her life? 

Five: Harmonious Space

At this point, we can see that the narrator is switching back and forth from Taylor to Lou Ann in each chapter. This alternating first-person narrative might mean that somehow, these two lives are going to have something in common or come together in some event. And, both ladies are in Tuscon with small children, so the chances of them running into each other get better all the time.  (This annotation contains a video)
Here is another example of verbal irony. Gelatin is made using animal parts like bones and horns. Taylor gives a reason for the horses to hate gelatin, but this is just a joke. The horses cannot possibly understand all the ingredients in gelatin and cannot hate it. Taylor's sense of humor continues to entertain the reader. Let's see what joke she comes up with next. 
What does Taylor seem to regret most about quitting her job at the Burger Derby? 
Homeostasis is the state of balance. There are many systems in the body that work to maintain this balance. It seems as if Fei and her roomates believe that eating bad food or drinking coffee throws the body out of balance. Many people still believe this today, but there are other factors aside from diet that can throw the body out of order. The video below shows how the body reacts to temperature changes to maintain homeostasis.  (This annotation contains a video)
Many people have a fear of flying. The story Lou Ann tells about the plane crash in Washington D.C. was real. These added elements of real life (much like the newspapers in Mattie's repair shop) give the book a sense of being part of reality.  (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Lou Ann think Taylor talks like her? 

Six: Valentine’s Day

Taylor may not know where this phrase comes from, but many people recognize the words. The text of the poem appeared in the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the book, Alice recites the poem to the Caterpillar. Even though the book is still a classic, many people know the poem from the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb are trying to entertain Alice with songs and break into a version of a song called "Old Father William." (This annotation contains a video)
Summarize the way Mattie tries to teach Taylor not to be scared of tires. Then, explain if you think this will help Taylor overcome her fear and why or why not. 
Borscht is a popular Eastern European dish. It is usually made from a base with beets and cabbage, much like the one Lou Ann has made for dinner.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Taylor want to have a discussion with Lou Ann? 
Does Lou Ann blame herself for her divorce? Explain your answer in two or more sentences using evidence from the text. 
The flapper ball, often called the float ball, is an essential part of making a toilet flush. Let's see what lesson Taylor has that uses a toilet as part of it.  (This annotation contains an image)
Chapters 1-6 Quiz 

Seven: How They Eat in Heaven

Mattie and Lou Ann are talking about mnemonics, the practice of using strategies to help people learn more easily. In this case, Mattie and Lou Ann are using strategies to remember how to spell a word.  (This annotation contains a video)
The author is using figurative language to describe Esperanza and Estevan in this paragraph. Give one example of the figurative language being used and explain what the author means by it in two or more sentences.  
There are several stages of sleep. The REM or rapid eye movement stage of sleep does include vivid dreams and movement of the eye. It is the stage of sleep where the brain is most active.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following things make Taylor consider that Turtle's life is taking a turn? 
Taylor is revealing things about Lou Ann's character here. Based on some of the actions and statements Lou Ann has made in the past, we can believe Taylor when she says this. Be sure to include some of Lou Ann's personality characteristics in your notes.  
Why is Taylor cooking for a party? 
Some of the most traditional dresses in parts of Mexico and Central America incorporate many colors and patterns into women's clothing. It is no wonder Taylor was reminded of a rainbow.  (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the content of Mattie's new appearance in one or two sentences. 
Those of us lucky enough to grow up in an Asian family or exposed to Asian culture at an early age find using chopsticks easy. For someone who has never used them before, they can be difficult to maneuver.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Taylor almost loose her temper at the dinner party? 

Eight: The Miracle of Dog Doo Park

The structure of the story has shifted. Instead of moving back and forth from Taylor to Lou Anne, the last few chapters have kept Taylor as the narrator. Let's see if this continues throughout the book or if we ever get a peak into Lou Ann's head again. 
Why does Lou Ann think of Bobby Bingo when she thinks about Turtle and the words she says? Explain your answer in two or more complete sentences.  
Wisteria plants are actually considered an invasive species in the southwestern United States. This is due to its hardy nature and ability to choke out light and resources from other neighboring plants.  (This annotation contains an image)
Using context clues, explain what you believe the meaning of the word constitutional is and suggest an alternative word that could be used in its place. 
The phrase "ugly as homemade sin in the heat of summer" isn't a phrase we hear every day. This is an expression, and probably one that is particular to people from the Kentucky area. Through expressions like these, we get a hint of the phrases and idioms that Taylor and Lou Ann grew up hearing. They may seem funny, but every region has their own sayings that are unique, called a colloquialism. (This annotation contains a video)
The houses that surround the park at the time Taylor visits can best be described as 
Dr. Pelinowksy is the same Dr. P that Lou Ann went to during her pregnancy. But we never got a physical description like this. Sometimes it is easy to see the advantage of having two narrators to give different perspectives and give the reader a broader range of information. 
How does Taylor discover Turtle's real age? 
Rodeo clowns today like to be called Bullfighters because their job is more about fighting bulls than it is clowning around.  (This annotation contains a video)
Taylor and Lou Ann might have discovered Turtle's real name. Interestingly, this will also give us an approximate birth date and age for her. Let's put this episode in our notes and see if Turtle ever goes back to being called by her real name. 

Nine: Ismene

Explain why Taylor says she feels "it was something that had happened before." Use evidence from the text. Explain your answer in two or more sentences. 
4-H is a social club focused on teaching young children living a rural life. You can still find 4-H clubs in existence today. (This annotation contains a video)
As it is used here, the word muster most nearly means 
Without actually telling us why Esperanza tried to commit suicide, the author reveals this information through a dialogue between Estevan and Taylor. Make sure you take notes on why Estevan and Esperanze lost Ismene so you can keep track of their character development. 
Why was Taylor considered a Nutter in high school? 

Ten: The Bean Trees

We are getting a peak at some changes in our characters. Lou Ann and Taylor are dynamic characters, characters who will change as the story progresses. (This annotation contains a video)
Explain what kind of figurative language Taylor is using to describe the children in this part of the sentence. Explain what she means. Then, suggest an alternative form of figurative language that conveys the same meaning but uses different methods of comparison. 
Wisteria trees produce long pods for their seeds, pods that very much resemble pea pods. Check them out in the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Taylor ask Esperanza about her stomach? 
Pickled eggs are a popular bar snack in certain areas. Taylor uses a metaphor of eggs soaked in vinegar to talk about being ruined in life. However, if the eggs are left in the solution too long, they become tough and rubbery and not very tasty. Do you think this is a good metaphor for life? Can you think of any characters from this book, another book you read, or a film you watched who were in a sour situation so long they turned sour themselves?  (This annotation contains an image)

Eleven: Dream Angels

Which word below best describes the relationship between Taylor and Lou Ann? 
Cicadas are large winged insects common throughout the world. Male cicadas use an area of their lower abdomen called tymbals to make a clicking noise, which is then amplified by the hollow area of their abdomen. Male Cicadas "sing" or make noise with their tympals for a mating song, and are often loudest in the hottest parts of the day during summer. In Arizona, cicadas mate every summer. In other parts of the world, they mate in cycles every 7, 13, or even 17 years.  (This annotation contains a video)
In two or more sentences, explain why Lou Ann would not look at a picture of Dwayne Ray in 2001 and how that connects to memories of her childhood. 
Mattie at first needs Taylor's help around the shop when she says she is bird watching. Later, we learn that Mattie is a supporter of immigration reform and that the top floor of her shop is housing for immigrants. All these things are coming together for Taylor, and she now uses quotation marks around the phrase "bird watching" to show she understand that Mattie isn't really watching birds. What Mattie is probably doing is helping immigrants cross the border illegally. 

Twelve: Into the Terrible Night

Why is Mattie taking the group to the desert? 
The saguaro cactus is what many people typically think of when they think of a desert (see the image below), but there are many other types of plants and animals that live in the desert.  (This annotation contains an image)
What does Taylor see that alerts her that something is wrong with Turtle? 
So far, Taylor has been able to get away with saying Turtle is her daughter without showing any paperwork. Now the police have to be involved, and they will surely ask questions about where Turtle came from. Let's pay attention to how this point in the novel will change the direction of the plot. We can look at this moment as the inciting incident.  (This annotation contains a link)
Taylor describes herself as feeling hollow. Give an example of figurative language that Taylor could use to express the same feelings and explain what it means. Give your answer in two or more sentences.  
Chapters 7-12 Quiz 

Thirteen: Night-Blooming Cereus

A cameo is the name for a piece of jewelry that has a carved design. The background is often a different color. Cameos were often used as brooches, rings, or necklaces as far back as Ancient Greece. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Lou Ann tell the story of Bonita Jankenhorn? Explain your answer in two or more sentences.  
Taylor says she wonders if Mattie ever had kids. Think about the kinds of activities and comments Mattie makes about children. Do you think she would be a good mother? Do you think she has children? We can only hope the author tells us this at some point. The only way to find out is to keep on reading. 
Using context clues, explain what Taylor means when she says she "paced the house." Write another sentence using different vocabulary that expresses the same idea. 
A popular idiom says "We will cross that bridge when we come to it." Here, Taylor is changing the wording slightly. This might reflect a regional variation on the saying or just might be showing the reader her sense of humor.  
What kind of figurative language is Taylor using to describe the flowers here? 
Mattie gives Taylor money for the journey so they aren't sleeping in their car or scavenging for food. Mattie says it is less suspicious to travel well, but, as a reader, we can suspect that Mattie is also giving Taylor money as a kind of gift so their journey is more comfortable. 

Fourteen: Guardian Saints

Explain, in two or more sentences, how the author builds tension at the checkpoint. Then, summarize the events at the checkpoint and give the final result. 
"My Old Kentucky Home" was composed by Stephen Foster sometime around 1852.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why would Taylor and the others need to keep themselves from going crazy with boredom? 
Estevan is the Spanish version of the name Steven, and the word "esperanza" means hope in English. It is no wonder the two chose these names for their new "American" life. 

Fifteen: Lake o’ the Cherokees

The Cherokee Nation has a rich history. To learn more about the Cherokee Nation, follow the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
What characteristic does Taylor show when telling the reader about Esperanza and her relationship with Turtle? 
Taylor's journey has helped her to realize a few things about herself. In learning that Turtle's mother has died, she reflects on her own situation. This journey is turning into one of self realization. 

Sixteen: Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will

Without actually saying straight out what is going on, the reader can now piece together why Taylor, Estevan,and Esperanza must lie. Explain, in two or more sentences, why the group is lying and what the hope the outcome will be. 
Taylor seems to feel as if the life of an immigrant is degrading and regrets that this is the look and attitude Esetvan and Esperanza must portray to help her secure Turtle's adoption paperwork. Despite Taylor's emotional reaction, Estevan and Esperanza made the smart choice.  

Seventeen: Rhizobia

Research has proven that bonds between parents and adopted children or non-blood relatives is just as important as those that are related to us by blood in some cases. This phenomenon is known as fictive kinship, and you can read more about it by clicking the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
The Saint Christopher medal that Turtle is wearing came to her from 
The wisteria and rhizobia are symbols here, but these symbols don't necessarily get restricted to Taylor's neighbors. Imagine that in this scenario Taylor is the wisteria, thriving in poor soil. What does the "poor soil" mean in Taylor's life. What is her rhiszobia? If we really look at it, Turtle is the thing that helps her grow and thrive, so Turtle, in this symbolism example, is like the rhizobia.  (This annotation contains a video)
Chapters 12-17