Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

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Sarah Byrnes and Eric have been friends for years. When they were children, his fat and her terrible scars made them both outcasts. Later, although swimming slimmed Eric, she stayed his closest friend.

Now Sarah Byrnes -- the smartest, toughest person Eric has ever known -- sits silent in a hospital. Eric must uncover the terrible secret she's hiding, before its dark currents pull them both under.

Curriculet Details
51 Questions
49 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for mature and advanced students in 7th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining idioms, irony and character traits. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about flashback and story structure. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of how setting affects plot development, character development, and supporting inferences with quotations from the text. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

Eric is comparing himself to the large hot air balloon from the famous Jules Verne story "Around the World in Eighty Days." (This annotation contains an image)
How does Mrs. Lemry's point of view help us understand more about Eric? 
William Conrad is an American actor known for his large size. (This annotation contains an image)
Authors often use figurative language strategies to help engage the reader. This simile, the comparison between Eric's breath and the exhaust from a truck, helps us create a vivid image in our minds. Watch this short video to learn more about similes and metaphors. (This annotation contains a video)
How can you tell Eric knows Sarah really well? 
The author is getting ready to include an element in the story called a flashback. Watch this video to find out why authors use this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
Since the author is using first person point of view to tell this story, we are able to hear Eric's thoughts as events occur. After reading this paragraph we can tell that Eric is very 
The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. Among other things, it states that a defendant has the right to stay silent when asked a question about a crime. 
What can we infer from the interactions Eric has with Mr. Mautz and Ms. Barker? 

Chapter 2

This is another great example of a metaphor. Eric is comparing himself to a pig going to its death. The author's use of this comparison helps us understand that he must feel nervous about going first. 
How does Kathy's opinion about whether the world is good or bad differ from Eric's? Quote two pieces from the text to support your answer. 
After reading this section, which phrase best describes Sarah? 
The National Enquirer is a newspaper known for its exaggerated stories about celebrities. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 3

Here is an example of what a 1973 Pontiac station wagon looks like. (This annotation contains an image)
The use of the word "fiendish" here leads us to believe that the workout in the pool will be 
Why does Eric think Ellerby is more of an enigma? 
Pungi sticks are spikes made out of wood or bamboo and placed upright in the ground. They are often used as booby traps. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Coach Lemry's strategy for getting the swimmers ready for this rough workout? 
The butterfly stroke in swimming is known to be one of the most difficult to do. Watch how it's done on this video and think about Eric having to do this stroke after ninety repeats! (This annotation contains a video)
The author is once again going to go back in time so we can better understand the relationship between Dale and Sarah. Watch this short video and think about how this type of structure helps us better understand the events of this book. (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think Dale chooses Norman to pull into the bathroom? 
Irony is when something happens, or a character reacts in way that is different from what you expected. What is ironic about Dale's reaction to the article? 

Chapter 4

Rather than using flashback, how does the author convey an important event that happened earlier between two main characters? 
In this section Sarah is trying to help Eric become more self-confident and wise in his dealings with the school bully, Dale. Watch this video about how authors use character development to move the plot of the story along. (This annotation contains a video)
Throughout his description of the day Eric tried to escape from Dale, Eric uses many similes to help us better picture how he was feeling. Which comparison was NOT used by Eric? 
Facetiously means treating something serious in a humorous way. Have you noticed that Eric tends to use this strategy to break the tension in the story? 
An analogy is a comparison made between two things in an effort to explain or clarify something. If two enemies like the USA and Russia came together to war against a common opponent, who do you think Sarah is suggesting they work with, and who is their "common enemy"? 

Chapter 5

What can we infer from this description? 
Mr. Rogers was a man who hosted a television show for little children. He often taught about being kind and gentle. (This annotation contains an image)
How will the author's creation of Ms. Lemry's Contemporary American Thought class contribute to our understanding of the story? 
A heretic is someone who believes things in opposition to a particular religion. Do you think Eric is a heretic? 
Here is a short video of Nancy Griffith singing "From a Distance." Listen to the words. Does this seem like something you would picture Ellerby presenting? (This annotation contains a video)
Eric's sees his friendship with Ellerby as 
How is Ellerby's view of God's and man's role in the world different than Brittain's view? Use quotes from this section to support your answer. 

Chapter 6

An expose is when a newspaper or magazine writer brings a scandal, crime, or other negative story to public notice. 
The title of their biweekly newspaper is Crispy Pork Rinds. Which quote would make the perfect subtitle? 
Analgesic balm is an ointment that feels cool at first and then begins to warm the skin. A popular brand is BenGay. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Eric mean by this statement? 
What is ironic about this particular setting? 
This is a good example of hyperbole. Hyperbole is when exaggeration is used to make a point. When Dale says, "she liked to took my head off" he exaggerates so they will know how truly angry Sarah was at him. 
How does Dale's point of view change the direction of this story? 

Chapter 7

What does this detail reveal about Jody? 
Jimmy Swaggart is a famous televangelist, which means he has a television ministry show. He is known for being very dramatic during his sermons. (This annotation contains an image)
Catatonia is when a person appears unresponsive. He/She may stare, not speak, and often stays in the same position for long periods of time. Eric is trying to figure out why Sarah has become catatonic. 
When Ellerby says, "He isn't scary. I'd do it out of respect," he is talking about his dad. Which of the book's themes is he illustrating? 
Often times authors use strong images to help us better understand what a character is feeling. Have you ever been so shocked by something that your stomach hurts and you feel like you're going to fall down? 
Quiz: Chapters 1-7 

Chapter 8

The word "psyche" comes from the Greek word for soul. It is used to mean soul, mind, or spirit. 
How does Eric's love of swimming help shape who he is becoming as his character gets older? 
The idea that is causing the most concern in the class is 
This is a famous saying that originated from Shakespeare's Hamlet. It means that someone is overly insistent about something, to the point where the opposite is most likely true. 
What do you think about Ellerby's rant? Be sure to use at least one of his quotes as you explain your opinion. 
An ayatollah is a religious leader among Shiite Muslims. 
How would you describe Eric at this moment? 

Chapter 9

According to Sarah, why is she pretending to be catatonic? 
Edgar Bergen was a famous ventriloquist. A ventriloquist is someone who can speak without moving his/her mouth much so it appears someone or something else is speaking, often a dummy. Here is a short commercial of Edgar Bergen being a ventriloquist. Why do you think Sarah compares herself to Edgar Bergen? (This annotation contains a video)
Ms. Lemry said that point of view is linked to beliefs. How does Eric demonstrate that this is true in this part of the story? 
Read this poem entitled "Lonely" by poet Raymond A. Foss. What feelings does the poet have in common with Jody? (This annotation contains a link)
What is the main reason Jody has confided in Eric? 

Chapter 10

Ward and June Cleaver were parents on a 1950's family show called "Leave it to Beaver". They were known for their calm discipline as you can see in this clip. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Eric learn from his confrontation with Mark? 
Ann Landers was an advice columnist who was famous for providing answers to many of her readers' questions. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the word incensed mean in this sentence? 
This ___________ helps us picture just how intense the confrontation between Sarah's dad and the therapist is. 
Peter, Paul and Mary are singers from the 1960's. They were known to sing songs about peace. They wanted to "hammer out" bad things in the world in one of their songs. (This annotation contains an image)
What advice would you give Eric at this point concerning Sarah? Do you think it is more important to keep a promise or get help? Why? 

Chapter 11

To "bird-dog" means to follow or watch carefully. Can you picture Mr. Byrnes keeping his cold eyes on Eric? 
What does Sarah feel most guilty about at this point? 
This is a great example of a simile. Mrs. Lemry's tears are being compared to big sad pearls using the word "like". 

Chapter 12

How does the conversation between Eric and Dale change what will probably happen next in the story? 
"Beat around the bush" is an idiom. An idiom is a saying that means something different than the literal words. (This annotation contains a video)
From this exchange between Eric and Mr. Mautz we can infer that  
To slander is to make a false statement that damages another person's reputation. Do you think Eric has slandered Mark as he has been talking to Jody? 
How does the conversation between Mrs. Lemry and Eric move the plot along? 
"Clean my clock" is a great example of an idiom. An idiom is a saying that cannot be taken literally, the words have special meaning. In this case Eric obviously means she was thinking of hitting him hard. 
A popular theme in literature is friendship is dependent on sacrifice. Which quote from this chapter best supports that theme ? 

Chapter 13

A sentry is a soldier stationed to keep guard or to control access to a place. How does this comparison help you picture Mr. Mautz? (This annotation contains an image)
Perry Mason was a fictional television character. He was a forceful, intelligent defense attorney. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Mrs. Lemry's class provide the perfect setting for Sarah's outburst? 
Quiz: Chapters 8-13 

Chapter 14

"Callous" means unfeeling or insensitive to the difficulties of others. Do you agree with Sally? Do you think the class is callous when they are having discussions? 
What do you think about Sally's opinion? Is Mrs. Lemry's class mean? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 
Which quote from Mrs. Lemry is most like what Carver means when he says, "Taking on someone else's monsters will kill you"? 
Reno is a city in Nevada. It is known for its many gambling casinos. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 15

This is another idiom. Read this short description so you'll understand where this saying came from, as well as its meaning. (This annotation contains a link)
What does Eric mean when he says that Mr. Mautz is outmatched in presence? 
A pun is a play on words that mixes two meanings of the same word. In this example Mr. Mautz said suicide was a "grave business." Since grave can mean serious as well as a place where someone is buried, it could be used as a pun. 
What is Mr. Ellerby most angry about? 
Which word best describes Eric at this point? 

Chapter 16

This is a good time to talk about protagonists and antagonists. Watch this short video. Which one do you think Virgil Byrnes is? (This annotation contains a video)
How does the setting help the author create suspense? 
Authors often try to use imagery to help us visualize and be "in" the story with the character. Calling it "liquid warmth" is a great way for us to feel the blood along with Eric. 
What is ironic about Eric going to Dale's? 

Chapter 17

A moniker is a nickname. Do you think the headline referring to Eric as "Orca" (a whale) is appropriate? 
What lie did Sarah's mother tell in order to make herself feel better? 
Warren Spahn was a Major League pitcher during the 40's, 50's, and 60's. This is what Mrs. Lemry's glove may have looked like. (This annotation contains an image)
Why did Mrs. Lemry tell Eric her personal story about the baseball glove? 

Chapter 18

An analogy is a comparison between two things. In this case Eric compares his life to a play, with his hospital room being the theater. As you read this chapter, think about how the "play" is being acted out by the various characters. 
Sarah's decision to leave in order to protect Eric and Mrs. Lemry demonstrates which earlier theme? 
Sometimes authors use foreshadowing, or a hint that something major is about to happen in the story. What do you think when you read the last sentence of this chapter? 

Chapter 19

What do you think Eric means by this statement? 
Many authors include an "epilogue" at the end of their story. The epilogue is written to tell what happened to the characters after the story ends. Make sure you read the epilogue on the next pages to find out what happens to Eric, Sarah, and the others. 


Quiz: Chapters 14-19