The Face on the Milk Carton
No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar--a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey--she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl--it was she. How could it possibly be true? Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really Janie's parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?
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"The Face on the Milk Carton" is the first novel in a four book series. In this story, Janie Johnson recognizes the face of a kidnapped little girl on the side of a milk carton-it's her! Continue reading to learn what Janie does.
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When you read a novel, it is important to take note of the point of view that the story is being told from. Watch the video below to learn more about point of view in literature. Then, try to determine what type of narration this novel uses. (This annotation contains a video)
Which quote from the highlighted text proves that this novel is written in the third person point of view?
Why does Janie spend so much time daydreaming?
Why doesn't Janie drink milk?
Do you think this detail about Janie's curly red hair is going to be important to the plot of this story?
The use of milk cartons to help in the search for missing children began as a result of some very high profile cases in the 1970s and 80s where children went missing and law-enforcement did not have systems in place to quickly begin a search. Now we have other systems, like Amber alerts, that get the word out as soon as possible. To learn more about the history of these developments, read the article below. (This annotation contains a link)
Which sentence from the text proves that Reeve feels trapped in his town?
Considering that the title of this novel is "The Face on the Milk Carton," we can assume that Janie is going to encounter something surprising when she looks at one of her milk cartons. All of this thinking about milk is providing clues to what will happen next in the novel. This literary technique is called foreshadowing. To learn more about foreshadowing, watch the video clip below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which quote from the text shows that Janie is shocked by what she sees on the milk carton?
We know that this story is told in the third person point of view. However, there are two types of third person narration: third person omniscient and third person limited. Third person omniscient point of view allows the reader to hear the thoughts and feelings of several different characters within the text, whereas third person limited only lets the reader hear the thoughts of one character. So far, this novel seems to be written in the third-person limited viewpoint because we only really hear and understand Janie's thoughts.
Why do you think Janie is able to remember the dress from the photograph, but forgot the moment that she was kidnapped? Do you think she repressed that memory because it was too frightening?
Characters experience different types of conflict within stories. Two types of conflict are external and internal conflict. External conflict involves a problem that a character has outside of him or herself, while internal conflict is a problem that a character experiences within him or herself. Watch the video below to learn more about these types of conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Janie seem confused and disorientated?
Did you notice that what Janie is thinking in her head is completely different from the conversation she is having with Reeve? Have you ever had conversations like this where your mind is completely focused on something else?
"He saw me drinking Sarah-Charlotte's milk, she thought. Which I drank long after he waved. So he looked back. Checked me out a second time."What conclusion is Janie drawing in the highlighted text?
The ice cream sundae causes Janie to have a ______________.
Which passage from the text reflects that Janie is experiencing internal conflict?
"The Face on the Milk Carton" is a fictional story. Within the fiction genre there are many different types of fiction. This novel is part of the mystery genre. This is because the main conflict within the story is that Janie must discover if she really was kidnapped and by whom. To learn more about this genre, watch the video clip below. (This annotation contains a video)
What could Janie look for in her house that might help prove or disprove her theory that she was kidnapped?
"There were no baby pictures."How does the highlighted text reinforce that this novel is part of the mystery genre?
What are your earliest memories? Do you have memories from when you were three years old?
Why does this scene alternate between Janie noticing nice things that her parents have done, and Janie feeling certain that she has been kidnapped?
Why is this information about Janie's mom being strict important to the plot of the story? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Why is the highlighted text italicized?
Which element of the mystery genre has been used in this novel?
The theme of a novel is the overall message that the author wants to convey to the reader. This novel will focus on the theme of identity, and how one's entire world can be turned upside down when one's true identity is put into question. Watch the video clip below to learn more about themes in literature. (This annotation contains a video)
What is significant about the feet of Janie's mother? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
How would you describe Janie as a student? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
What can the reader infer is the reason that Janie is uncomfortable with the conversation about birth certificates?
A guillotine is an execution device that was famous in France during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was invented as a more humane method of execution, but was outlawed in the 1970s. Below is a picture of a guillotine. (This annotation contains an image)
A simile is a comparison made between two objects using the words, "like" or "as." Read the simile below. "Like a painting from the bottom up, another kitchen emerged in her brain."Why does the author use this simile to describe Janie's memory of the kitchen?
Reeve is one of Janie's best friends. Why doesn't she tell him the truth? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Whoa! Did you expect this to happen based on the end of the previous chapter?
Why are Janie and Reeve behaving so awkwardly?
What do you think this smile on her mom's face means? Do you think she saw Janie and Reeve kissing?
"Janie sighed and opened her book bag, dumping the contents on her bed."Which word from the highlighted sentence helps the reader understand the meaning of the word, "contents"?
"The 800 number was like a dart being thrown into her eyes."Which literary device is used in the highlighted sentence?
"The Face on the Milk Carton" was turned into a made-for-TV movie. Watch the first ten minutes of the movie version of this story and take note of the similarities and differences between both versions. Be ready to explain your comparisons in the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
What similarities and differences did you notice between the movie and text version of "The Face on the Milk Carton"? Cite evidence from both the novel and movie to support your comparisons.
Do you think that the highlighted passage is another clue to Janie's mystery? Does her love of driving mean anything significant? (This annotation contains an image)
How are Janie and her mother's feelings about Lizzie similar?
Ouch! Janie would never say something like this to Reeve.
Why do you think that Janie and Reeve don't eat lunch together? They spend so much time together outside of school.
What typically happens in mystery stories when the main character starts snooping around in places that they have never looked before? They usually find some interesting pieces of information or clues. Do you think that Janie will find another clue in her mother's study?
Why is Janie now suspicious about the boxes in the back of the attic?
Words such as, "slammed," "crept," "pounding," and "whirled" create a feeling of tension in this scene. To learn more about tension, watch the video clip below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which phrase from the highlighted text creates tension in this scene?
Who do you think Hannah is?
What has confirmed that Janie's suspicions about being kidnapped are correct?
Now that Janie knows for certain that her parents are not her real parents, how do you think she feels when she looks at them? Why doesn't she confront them?
"He was a big man, lean, able to have seconds on gravy without a thought."Which sentence below uses the word, "lean" in the same way as the sentence above?
How is Reeve changing? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Why do you think Janie reveals this information that she's been struggling with to a complete stranger?
"But she was a mind floating in an ocean of confusion..."The highlighted sentence reflects the _________ conflict that Janie is experiencing.
It seems like both Reeve and Janie are confused about the status of their relationship.
What memory is Janie having in the highlighted paragraph?
Janie finally can't take it anymore and confronts her parents. Do you think they will finally admit the truth?
Why is Janie relieved by the news that her parents are really her grandparents? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Do you believe the story that Janie's parents are telling her?
Summarize the story that Janie's parents told her about her real mother. Cite evidence from the text to support your summary.
Why has Janie's appetite suddenly returned?
How would you feel if you were in Janie's position? Would you be angry that your parents had kept something like this from you for your entire life?
What details from the text show that Janie is not completely convinced that her parents' story is true?
Which quote from the text is an example of a simile?
What is the mood around the breakfast table the morning after Janie's parents told her the story about how she came to live with them?
Do you think Janie's parents ever expected her to run away like this?
Do you have any friends like Reeve, who will go along with you even when they aren't completely sure what is going on?
How has Janie's opinion about mysteries changed since she unraveled her own life's mystery? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
This is probably the reason why Janie did not want to tell any of her friends. She knew that they would think she was crazy.
When it comes to Janie's situation, what is Reeve having a difficult time understanding?
Another theme is being expressed in the highlighted passage. Janie realizes that people really don't pay much attention to the lives of others, even people that they are close to. Do you ever feel alone, even when you are surrounded by your closest friends?
Which set of words from the highlighted paragraph creates of the mood of guilt that Janie is feeling?
What do you think Reeve is really worried about if Janie is right? Is he worried that he'll never see her again?
The detailed descriptions of everything that Janie is feeling as she goes to look in the phone book creates a feeling of ________ in this scene.
Janie is having a difficult time realizing that she doesn't owe her parents anything anymore.
What text feature helps the reader to understand that time has passed between the two highlighted sentences?
What evidence from the text shows that this story does not take place in the 21st century?
How has the relationship between Reeve and Janie changed through the years?
Have you ever had to face your parents knowing that they would be furious with you?
"It was wonderful to be yelled at. It was so parental."Situational irony is when an event occurs in a story that is unexpected or opposite of what would or should normally occur. How is the highlighted text an example of situational irony?
This constant back and forth of emotions in Janie's mind is an example of which literary element?
How do you think Janie feels about hearing this name being spoken by her best friend?
What does Sarah-Charlotte think is weighing on Janie's mind? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Here is another clue about the time period that this story takes place. Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union prior to its dissolution from 1988 to 1991. Based on this fact, the reader can infer that this story is set in the 1990's.
What detail about Mr. Yampolski, the librarian, lets the reader know that he very friendly with the students?
What event is being foreshadowed in the highlighted text?
"I wanted to give you a ride home. I wanted you to ride with me every day. Always. And you got on the bus."What is the tone of the highlighted passage?
Ok, this is why her mom decided to take the family out for pizza, she knew that Janie would not like the idea of going to counseling and so she is bribing her with pizza.
Why is Janie fighting against her own memories? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
It seems like Janie is tired of all the lies and finally just wants to get the truth out. Do you ever feel compelled to write your feelings down on paper because you can be completely honest?
Here is another detail that shows the time period that this book is set in. The students are using typewriters because there aren't enough computers for all of the students to use.
Reeve's rationale makes sense. Janie had so many siblings that she might not have gotten very much attention. She probably enjoyed being the center of attention for a change.
At this moment, Janie is feeling ______ that she was kidnapped, otherwise she would be a completely different person.
Time has passed, and Janie has somehow found a way to keep her panicked feelings inside to help her get through daily life.
If Janie's parents see the picture of her on the milk carton, they will
Why does Reeve tell his sister, Lizzie, about Janie's kidnapping?
What is Lizzie's theory about Janie's kidnapping? Why is this theory such a relief to Janie? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
Do you think that a time will come when Janie has to go against what everyone wants her to do, and tell the truth? She loves and trusts Reeve and her parents, but they would rather that Janie just forget about the kidnapping and move on.
Do you see a possible conflict developing between Reeve and Janie? He wants them to focus on their relationship and Janie can't stop thinking about her family in New Jersey.
What unexpected news does Janie receive while playing Trivial Pursuit with her friends?
Click the link below to read the Greek myth about Pandora's box. Be ready to compare this myth to Janie's situation in the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
How is Janie's discovery of her kidnapping similar to Pandora opening the forbidden box? Cite evidence from both the myth and The Face on the Milk Carton to support your response.
What event is the highlighted text foreshadowing? If Janie's picture ends up in the newspaper, what might happen as a result?
Calling the 800 number is another __________ in Janie's life because once she tells someone, she cannot undo it.
Do you have any friends that you have outgrown? Janie has matured a lot this year and typical high school concerns seem so trivial to her now.
Sometimes when a person is dealing with emotional trauma, it takes an outsider's perspective on the situation to make a good decision about what to do. Janie is experiencing emotional turmoil and is having a difficult time understanding what is right.
It is clear that Sarah-Charlotte doesn't understand the depth of feelings that Reeve and Janie have for each other. Sarah-Charlotte thinks that all Reeve cared about was a physical relationship.
What is likely to take place now that Janie has lost the letter that she wrote to her real parents in New Jersey?
Janie assumes that Reeve and Jessica are ____________.
Which detail from the text shows that Janie's burden has been lifted after telling her parents the truth?
What internal conflict are Janie's parents enduring after finding out that Janie was kidnapped?
Another theme in this story is the concept of tragedy and how it can affect and change an entire family. Have you experienced tragedy like this in your life? How did it affect your family?
What is the mood in the room as Janie's mother dials the Spring's phone number?