Criss Cross

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Debbie is wishing something would happen. Something good. To her. Soon. In the meantime, Debbie loses a necklace and finds a necklace (and boy does the necklace have a story to tell), she goes jeans shopping with her mother (an accomplishment in diplomacy), she learns to drive shift in a truck (illegally), she saves a life (directly connected to being able to drive, thus proving something), she takes a bus ride to another town (in order to understand what it feels like to be from "elsewhere"), she meets a boy (who truly is from "elsewhere"), but mostly she hangs out with her friends: Patty, Hector, Lenny, and Phil. Their paths cross. Their stories crisscross. And in Lynne Rae Perkins's remarkable book, a girl and her wish grow up. Illustrated throughout with black–and–white pictures, comics, and photographs by the author.

Ages 10+

Curriculet Details
50 Questions
50 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for elementary school students contains interactive videos exploring parallel plot and foreshadowing, as well as annotations describing metaphor, flashback, and adolescence. Students will explore the themes of connection and missed opportunities. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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CHAPTER 1 The catch

Lynne Rae Perkins is an award-winning author of many books for children and adolescents. Criss Cross is a sequel to her book All Alone in the Universe. (This annotation contains an image)
The story of Debbie's necklace is a good example of parallel plot. Watch the video below to learn more about parallel plot. One of the main themes of this book is connectedness, and the journey of the necklace shows how the characters are all more connected than they think. As you read the sections about Debbie's necklace throughout the book, look for evidence of this theme.  (This annotation contains a video)

CHAPTER 2 Hector Goes into a Sponge State and has a Satori

Hector thinks his sister's face is _______________ than his. 
The narration for this novel is third person omniscient. In third person omniscient, the narrator can see the thoughts of all of the characters, unlike third person limited, where the narrator can only see the thoughts of one character. 
How do you think Hector is feeling in the highlighted selection? 
On her website, Perkins writes, "I have a theory that there are moments in our lives when we are waking up, and whatever or whoever we encounter at those moments becomes important to us. It's more about who we are right then than what we see." Hector is having one of those moments with the guitar. Look for other characters having similar moments of being "woken up" as you read. 
How does Hector view his older sister? Does he look up to her? Use examples from the text in your answer. 
These highlighted paragraphs capture one of the main themes of the story, in that adolescence is a time when everyone is changing, and also that everyone is unsure of themselves. Hector watches as the girls change from caterpillars to butterflies, but he doubts that he will ever be able to relate to them. Have you ever felt like that? 

CHAPTER 3 Boys, Dogs, Science Fiction

"Every half hour or so they turned ninety degrees, like chickens roasting on invisible rotisseries" contains an example of  
Debbie is using the metaphor of a black hole sucking her words away to describe how she feels when she is talking to a boy. Watch the video below to learn more about similes and metaphors so you can look for examples as you read. (This annotation contains a video)

CHAPTER 4 Radio Show

What does the highlighted sentence tell you? 
The radio show shares the same name as the book, Criss Cross. When something criss crosses, it means that it intersects, or has been brought together in a pattern. You will see how the radio show will do this for the characters. It will bring them together every week. 

CHAPTER 5 Leg Buds

Knowing that the main theme of the book is connection, or missed opportunities to connect, how do you think the characters getting together every week to listen to the radio show goes along with the theme? 

CHAPTER 6 In the Rhododendrons

This story takes place in the late 1960s or early 1970s, when there was a large cultural shift occurring. Debbie's mother doesn't want her wearing bell bottom pants (shown below) despite the fact that it is a popular style among Debbie's classmates, and this is why Debbie is changing clothes before school in a bush. Have you ever had a similar argument with your parents? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Debbie lie to her mother about hemming the jeans? 
This is where the journey of Debbie's necklace begins, highlighting the parallel plot that shows how connected the characters truly are, even though they don't see it themselves.  

CHAPTER 7 The Fable of Lenny

How do Debbie and Phil see Lenny? 
While reading the encyclopedia, Lenny has a moment much like Hector when he heard live guitar. 
Do you think this is a fair question that Lenny's mother asked him? How would it make you have felt if you were Lenny? 
Lenny is incredibly intelligent, yet has a hard time taking tests and therefore doesn't get good grades. No one notices this and, sadly, it determines the fate of his academic career. 
The characters in this book are often caught in a strange place between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. In the highlighted sentence, they seem the most like 

CHAPTER 8 Easy Basin Wrench, or Debbie has a Mechanical Moment, Too

Debbie's father is using verbal irony to share his frustration with the tool. Watch the video below to learn more about verbal irony.  (This annotation contains a video)

CHAPTER 9 Guitar Lessons

How would you best describe Hector's tone in the highlighted passage? 
Hector is noticing what most girls (including Debbie) don't care to notice about Dan Persik: underneath his inherited good looks, he might not be a good person who is worthy of their affection. As you read along, notice whose view of Dan's character is the closest to the truth-- Hector's or Debbie's. 
"Maybe there had been a time, a moment, when he had made the choice between being a rock star and being a Presbyterian minister." Hector's thoughts echo one of the themes of this book, that there are moments that change the trajectory of our lives. Have you ever had a moment like the minister, where you chose to give up a dream in order to pursue something practical? What choice do you think you would make in that moment? 
Hector joining in on the singing even though he knows it isn't the cool thing to do shows that he has a very strong sense of self, and that he is going to be true to himself. 
Russel's thoughts "wandering through his head like lurching strangers on a moving train" is an example of 

CHAPTER 10 Conversation in the Dark: Brilliant Eskimo Thoughts

Perkins structured the text like this to show that Debbie and Patty are having a dialog. This chapter looks more like how a movie or play script of the scene would look than what we're used to in a novel. 
Why do you think Perkins replaces the girls' initials with question marks? 

CHAPTER 11 Hector’s First Song

The choice of subject for Hector's first song shows how much the opposite sex is on the minds of all of the characters.  

CHAPTER 12 Truck Lessons

Why is there suddenly an awkward silence between Debbie and Lenny? Hint: think back to the subject of Hector's song. 
This is an example of foreshadowing. Watch the video below to learn more about foreshadowing and watch for Debbie's new skill coming in handy as you read. (This annotation contains a video)
What did we learn from this exchange? 
Quiz #1 

CHAPTER 13 Ravine

Here is a live 1967 performance of the song that Hector is listening to.  (This annotation contains a video)
The song "Words of Love" make Hector feel like he needs something new and exciting lined up to ask Meadow on a date. Do you think Hector needs to impress her like this or should he just find a way to tell her how he is feeling? 
"Boing, boing, boing" is an example of onomatopoeia, when a word imitates the sound that it makes. Another example of this would be to listen to the "drip drop" of the rain. 
Hector's mindset could best be described as  

CHAPTER 14 Japanese chapter

A haiku is a short Japanese poem that is only three lines long. The first line contains five syllables, the second line seven, and the last line five. What do you think of the girls' yearbook haikus on the following pages? 
Either Debbie or Patty are showing their adolescent vanity with this haiku about 
The following recollection by Debbie in italics is a flashback to a slumber party she went to in sixth grade. Watch the video below to learn more about flashbacks. As you read the flashback, think about why the author included this one. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted selection shows how people see something different than you do when you look at yourself. Following the form of the yearbook haikus that Patty and Debbie are writing, create a haiku of your own about how you see yourself. 
Debbie is echoing the thoughts of the previous few pages: how do people see her? Does she have a quality that makes her uniquely her?  

CHAPTER 15 Guitar Progress

Like Debbie, Hector is also feeling 

CHAPTER 16 Home Work

A Chinese Puzzle is a box that can only be opened by a secret trick or by a series of movements that are hard to figure out.  (This annotation contains an image)
"And then sometimes it meant you looked startled, like a bunny at a loud noise" contains an example of 
Perkins compares Dan's handsomeness to a spell that won't last forever, and writes that he has to learn how to become a good person before the spell wears off. As you read, notice whether or not Dan is learning what he is supposed to. 
What do you think Hector means by this and how does this relate to the story as a whole? 
The parallel plot of the journey of Debbie's necklace leads to Russell, a student in Hector's guitar class. 

CHAPTER 17 At the Tastee-Freez on a Tuesday Evening

" the opalescent dome of the sky, which was light and diaphanous to the west, a deepening delphinium blue to the east" contains an example of 
Nancy Drew is a famous fictional girl detective who has been solving mysteries (while never aging) for over eighty years. (This annotation contains an image)
Patty's tone could best be described as 
Dan's thought that "he could have some fun" with Debbie about the necklace doesn't make it seem like he is on his way to becoming a better person.  

CHAPTER 18 In and out of the Cocoon

Even though Debbie's room is tiny, she thinks of it as a sanctuary. Why do you think she feels this way? 
Remember this box of dog figurines that Debbie's mother keeps in the closet. Later in the story you will find out what is so special about them.  
Debbie thinks her mother's stories about her 
As your read, remember this fact. 
What does this detail reveal about Mrs. Bruning? 
This image from an old sanitary napkin pamphlet is likely similar to the one Debbie is looking at. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Dan looking for? Hint: it has to do with the parallel plot. 

CHAPTER 19 Where the Necklace Went

Dan is referring to the fact that Hector likes Meadow, but Dan assumes that he will end up with her instead. 


Debbie said earlier that Mrs. Bruning had never cut her hair. How does the haircut make her feel? In what way are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. relevant? 

CHAPTER 21 Confession

These three highlighted sentences each contain a simile! 
"The truck seemed determined to stay where is was" is an example of 

CHAPTER 22 Wuthering Heights/Popular Mechanics

Wuthering Heights is a novel published in 1847 by Emily Bronte. The Bronte sisters were all famous novelists and poets. Emily's sister Charlotte wrote the classic Jane Eyre. Below is a picture of the countryside that Debbie's mind is currently lost in. (This annotation contains an image)

CHAPTER 23 The childhood Friend

Why is Debbie suddenly self-conscious around Phil? 

CHAPTER 24 Grosi

Mrs. Bruning's children are in town for a visit and they want to talk to her about giving up her house. As you can see from Peter's description of his grandmother, it does't look like she appreciates the idea.  
What does Mrs. Bruning mean by this? What are her plans for Debbie? 
Mrs. Bruning has diabetes, when your body cannot regulate the amount of insulin in the blood. 
Debbie needs to drive Mrs. Bruning to the hospital. Perkins ___________ this incident in Chapter Twelve when she wrote the following from Debbie's Point of view:"And it might be an emergency life skill a person should have, along with waitressing or how to resuscitate someone who has been ragged out of a river or a lake. Say, for example, you were riding in a car, a car with a stick shift, and the driver had a heart attack in the middle of nowhere. It would be irresponsible not to know how to drive to a hospital." 
This sentence about the car is a metaphor. Monolithic refers to something that is formed from a single block of large stone. 
"She drove the old car to the fire station with as much concentration as if she were guiding a fat piece of thread through a skinny needle" is an example of 
Peter is flirting with Debbie and building her confidence. He was very impressed with how she handled the emergency. 

CHAPTER 25 Meanwhile

How would you feel if you were Hector and saw your crush on a date with someone like Dan? 
Poor Hector, he is humiliated and heartbroken.  
"They could see that steam was still coming out of Hector's ears" is a metaphor for saying that Hector is still 
As we learned earlier from his conversation with Hector, Russell is a very awkward person. Saying something to the popular Dan must take a lot of courage for him. 
How would you best describe Dan's tone with Russell? 
Quiz #2 

CHAPTER 26 Somewhere Else

Y'ns is the plural form of you. The more popular Southern equivalent would be ya'll. 
Debbie insisted that there was nothing interesting near her hometown, but now, with Peter, she is seeing it through new eyes. Have you ever had an experience like Debbie's? 
Debbie is having one of those moments that Perkins talked about that occurs when you are "waking up." Like Lenny when he was reading the encyclopedia and Hector when he heard live guitar: Debbie is open and ready to be shaped by whatever wonderful thing will come her way on this day. 
"Debbie had been separated from her moorings and there was a spongy piece of her left open to the universe in whatever form it might take" is a metaphor that perfectly describes one of the ___________ of this book. 

CHAPTER 27 Meanwhile, Elsewhere

Hector is comparing his disappointment over Meadow being on a date with Dan to worms on the sidewalk getting stepped on. 

CHAPTER 28 Mrs. Bruning

Who was Debbie's reaction satisfying to? 

CHAPTER 29 Elephants

Here is yet another example of people appearing different to other people than they do to themselves.  
The dogs that Debbie's mother kept in a box in the closet were gifts from a boy. How do both the dogs and the opportunity to talk about them that was not taken reinforce the theme of missed connections in the novel? 

CHAPTER 31 California of the Mind

This is the same nun that Hector enjoys watching. He thought about her when he was trying to come up with date ideas to ask Meadow on. Do you think that this connection means anything? 

CHAPTER 32 Dan Persik’s Progress

Dan's action on the bus could best be described as 

CHAPTER 33 A Pig Roast

Below is a video of a live performance of the song Hector wants to learn for the luau. (This annotation contains a video)

CHAPTER 34 Roasting the Pig

The highlighted selection about Lenny drinking coffee with his father is meant to show the reader that Lenny is 

CHAPTER 35 Sarong

Here is a picture of Hawaiian men at a luau wearing sarongs and roasting a pig. Hector is showing that he is comfortable with himself if he is wearing a sarong to a pig roast in Seldom. (This annotation contains an image)

CHAPTER 36 Flip-Flop, Necklace

Hector has found Debbie's necklace! How has the story of the necklace been used to show the theme of connection in this novel? 

CHAPTER 37 On the Roof

Here are some cat paintings by a real schizophrenic that show his descent into his own world of madness.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does Debbie compare the cat paintings to Miss Spransy's living room? 
Debbie thinks that even though Miss Spransy's husband died she remained happy because  
Debbie's feeling that something is wrong with her is something that probably every person her age feels.  
What do you think of Rowanne's story about Becky's made up boyfriends? Do you see why Rowanne thinks that there is something nobel in the women going along with it? 

CHAPTER 38 Lightning Bugs

Debbie tells Lenny she doesn't want to go to the movies with him and he asks Patty. Debbie isn't sure now if he meant on a date or as friends. The lines between dating a friendship are becoming blurred and Debbie doesn't know how to react.  
Where does Debbie think she will be happiest? 
This is the most pivotal scene in the novel. Hector and Debbie almost made a romantic connection, but they both missed the opportunity (hitting both major themes of the book). Then the reader gets to see the necklace's point of view. The necklace is upset-- it had been working hard to help make that connection possible! Remember, the necklace had a parallel plot running through the story that showed how connected the characters actually are, even though they don't think they are. But there is still hope for Hector and Debbie-- "Maybe it was another time that their moments would meet." 
Whose voice are we hearing in the highlighted selection? 
Quiz #3