Chasing Redbird

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It started out as an ordinary summer. But the minute thirteen-year-old Zinny covered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change.

Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project. It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own. But more than that, Zinny knew that the trail somehow held the key to all kinds of questions. And that -- the only way to understand her family, her Aunt Jessie's death, and herself, was to find out where it went.

From the author of the Newbery Medal-winning Walk Two Moons, here is an intricately woven tale of a young girl who sets out in search of her place in the world -- and discovers it in her own backyard.

Curriculet Details
51 Questions
48 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This interactive curriculum for 5th grade students includes annotations that prompt students to think about figurative language, emerging themes, and character development. The videos and images embedded in the curriculum help build background knowledge about the setting of rural Kentucky, as well as important symbolic elements. As students interact with the curriculum, they will explore themes of family, death, and identity.

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1 Tangled Spaghetti

This metaphor is the first example of many types of figurative language that the author will use throughout the book. When you read similes and metaphors, you should think about what two things are being compared and what the author wants you to understand. In this metaphor, the author is comparing life to a bowl of spaghetti. As you read on, try to figure out what she means. 

2 The Quiet Zone

How is going to Aunt Jessie and Uncle Nate's house like drifting back in time? 
Uncle Nate calls his wife Redbird. As you read, you should begin to think about how this relates to the title of the book. 
Imagine that Uncle Nate is telling the story.  What might he be able to tell the reader that Zinny can not? 

3 Sinking

How long has it been since Zinny has seen Jake? 

4 One-Day Special

If you think about the way the hands of a clock look at 6:00, you will understand how Aunt Jessie is describing Jake Boone's skinniness. (This annotation contains an image)
Salamanca "Sal" Hiddle is a character from another one of Sharon Creech's books, Walk Two Moons.  (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer based on Jake's comment to Zinny? 

5 Resolutions

Here is a picture of what the hills behind the farm in Kentucky might look like. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the reasons why the family didn't make money off of Uncle Nate's farm. 

6 Tadpoles and Pumpkins

This is a picture of a zinnia. As you read on, pay attention to what kind of flower Zinny's mother thought she painted on her shirt and how Zinny feels about it. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think the author doesn't tell the reader how Zinny is feeling? 

7 The Trail

Why was this advice meaningful to Zinny? 
What is the purpose of this paragraph? 
The illustrated map at the beginning of the book shows all of the locations that Zinny is seeing. As you look at the map, make some guesses about how these places got their names. 

8 Bottle Caps

Uncle Nate is speaking in a dialect, which is a variation in speech based on where people live. An author uses dialect to give the reader clues about a character. If dialect is hard to understand, it sometimes helps to read it out loud. 
Some people collect bottle caps. They enjoy seeing how many different pictures they can collect, and sorting the caps into different categories.  (This annotation contains an image)
How do May and Zinny act differently around Jake? 
Summarize the event with Tommy Salami that caused Zinny to stop trusting boys. 

9 Back in the Drawer

The author introduces this chapter by letting you know exactly what you are about to learn. As you read this chapter, you should ask yourself, "Why does Zinny think that Aunt Jessie's death was her fault?" 
Which does the word impulsively mean in this sentence? 
Why does Zinny think that Aunt Jessie's death is her fault? 

10 The Mission

What does this simile tell about the way people are acting towards Zinny? 
Based on the clues in the rest of the sentence, what does the word simultaneously mean? 
In this chapter, the author describes how sad and helpless most members of the family are after Aunt Jessie's death. But Ben is different. As you read on, pay attention to how Ben is coping with the loss. 
How does this passage suggest a theme in the story? 

11 Presents

Do you think that it is really possible for a cricket to tell the temperature? Watch this video to find out.  (This annotation contains a video)
How are Uncle Nate and Ben similar? 
This is what a box turtle might look like.  (This annotation contains an image)

12 The Birds, the Rose, and the Turtle

The author has already told the reader that Aunt Jessie has died. In this next episode, Aunt Jessie is alive so you know that the author is using a flashback. As you read, pay attention to when else the author uses flashback.  (This annotation contains a video)
What can you infer about Zinny based on her planting a fake rose in Aunt Jessie's garden? 
In this paragraph, the author is extending the symbolism of the turtle. Think about why Zinny finds a second cricket and leaves it near the tree. 

13 Bingo

Based on the clues in the passage, what does the word conniption mean? 
What can you infer about Bingo the puppy? 

14 Gobbler

Poke, the turtle, is a symbol for the importance of companionship and not wanting to be alone. As you continue reading, think about which characters this theme might apply to. 
What does forlorn mean in this sentence? 
Zinny is experiencing a conflict. She thinks Jake stole the beagle puppy from the Butlers and doesn't want to confront him about it. As you read, pay attention to how the author builds this conflict. 

15 Lost and Found

How does the author build the conflict in this chapter? 
Chapters 1- 15 

16 Boogie-woogie

This is a video of the song that Uncle Nate and Aunt Jessie used to sing and dance to. It's easy to see why they liked to sing, dance, and celebrate to it! (This annotation contains a video)

17 Trespassing

What can you conclude from these paragraphs? 
A parson is a church minister. When Jake tells Zinny she is "enough to make a parson swear," he is telling her she is incredibly frustrating. (This annotation contains an image)

19 Accused

Which literary element is the author using in this passage? 
What do you think might be in the locked drawer? 
From Uncle Nate's point of view, he believes he has proof of seeing Aunt Jessie. Think about how the point of view of other characters might be different from his. 

20 Beady Eyes

Here is a picture of a salamander. You can tell from the picture that a salamander has "beady eyes," which is also the title of this chapter. (This annotation contains an image)

21 Wanted

How would this story be different if it were told from Gretchen's point of view? 

22 The Fence

The barbed wire fence around the clearing is another symbol in the story. What do you think this symbolizes for Zinny? (This annotation contains an image)
How is Zinny reflecting on her aunt's death? 

23 Don’t Blame Me

This is a picture of a scythe like the one that Zinny would use for clearing the grass.  (This annotation contains an image)

24 The Horse

People sometimes say that we dream about the things that are troubling us in our waking lives. The author is using this dream as a way to summarize all the things that are worrying Zinny. 

25 A Plan

In what way does the setting influence Zinny's family? 
These are hyacinth flowers. They are very beautiful and smell very good. That is probably why Aunt Jessie thinks they are good for the soul.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Uncle Nate thrashing a piece of rope? 

26 Provisions

Zinny is about to go on an adventure. Many times in literature, the hero's journey follows the cycle that is shown in this diagram. After looking at the diagram, read on to see how Zinny's journey compares to the traditional cycle of a Hero's Journey.  (This annotation contains an image)
A gnat is a very small insect, as you can see from this picture comparing the size of gnats to a dime. To say that something has been "planned down to a gnat's eyebrow" means that it has been planned down to the smallest detail imaginable.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which clue in this sentence help you to understand what careening means? 

27 Alone

This chapter is called "Alone." As Zinny is alone on the trail, she has a lot of time to reflect, or think deeply and carefully, about her life. As you read on, pay attention to how Zinny's reflections impact the theme or themes. 
Ravenous means 

28 Baby in the Bag

What can you infer about how Zinny was feeling during her dream? 
The idiom, "blow a gasket," means that somebody will lose total control with excitement. A gasket is a seal in a piece of machinery that keeps liquids away from metal parts. If the gasket is blown, the liquid will get heated up by the metal, causing steam, which could make the machine explode.  
Describe how Zinny's character has been affected by the change of setting. 

29 Glimpses

What theme do Zinny's thoughts and reflections in this passage suggest? 

30 Homecoming

As you read this passage, think about how Zinny's point of view about her family seems to shift continuously. 
The author includes this paragraph because 
Chapters 16 - 30 

31 Dag-blasted Body

The author is describing how Zinny's mom looks different. As you read on, what can you infer about the reason her appearance has changed? 
Which passage from the text describes how Zinny was feeling on the second half of her day home? 
This sentence provides clues to what the word immaculate means. How else might you describe something that looked like soldiers standing at attention? 

32 A Beaut

When Rose died, Aunt Jessie kept repeating the phrase, "hand of God." Now Zinny is referencing the Bible verse, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." What else has Zinny gotten and lost so far in the book? This about how these losses might suggest a theme.  (This annotation contains an image)
Zinny is used to people asking her which Taylor she is. How is this conversation different? 

34 Even a Monkey…

Zinny's feelings about Jake stealing can be described as 
This Japanese proverb suggests that even when someone is very lucky, something bad will happen sooner or later. As you read on, see if this applies to any of the characters. 
Aunt Jessie had a disease called diabetes that affects the body's ability to use sugar. When a person has diabetes, they often have to inject a drug called insulin into their veins using a needle called a syringe.  (This annotation contains an image)

35 Leaving

In your own words, explain why Zinny feels like everything is "jumbled up in one big spaghetti pot." 
Zinny is having another flashback of an event that happened earlier in her life. However, she can not seem to remember all of the details. As you read on, try to piece together the memory that she is having. 
You can infer that the term "frog strangler" is a Southern term for 

36 Discovered

As Zinny sits in the tree reflecting on her life, she realizes that there is a circle of life that affects every living thing. As you continue to read, think about how this theme continues to play out. 
Which part of the Hero's Journey cycle relates to Zinny's interaction with the teenage boys? 

37 Spook Hollow

In this paragraph, the author uses a string of similes and metaphors to create a spooky mood. As you read this passage, try to make a picture in your mind of what Spook Hollow would look like at night. 
A happy memory for Zinny is when her Aunt and Uncle spent time with her, teaching her how to identify things in nature. This website has audio of different birdcalls for you to hear, just like Zinny did on the trail.  (This annotation contains a link)

38 Bear Alley

With this simile, Zinny is referencing the proverb, "Even monkeys fall from trees," that her Aunt had hanging in her bedroom. How does that proverb relate to this situation? 

39 Lost

Brambles are rough, prickly bushes that grow in the woods. (This annotation contains an image)
In this paragraph, the author uses the literary device, onomatopoeia. Watch this video to learn what that is.  (This annotation contains a video)
Zinny seeing Aunt Jessie relates to which part of the Hero's Journey cycle? 

40 Get That Horse

In your own words, describe what Zinny means in this sentence. 
The author is using this phrase to signal that something is about to change. Think about where Uncle Nate might be going and how it will transform the characters in the story. 
"Reins" are horseback riding equipment that help the rider communicate with the horse and tell it which way to go. The word "reins" is a homophone of the word "rains" because they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  (This annotation contains an image)

41 The Ride

The dialogue between Uncle Nate and Zinny reveals that 
Which word best describes how Jake is probably feeling now? 

42 The Cabin

Larch is a kind of tree that is related to a pine tree.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain in your own words what Uncle Nate means in this sentence. 

43 Drawers

A brachiopod is a fossil from animals that lived in the ancient seas. They can be found in rocks in Kentucky, because long ago, Kentucky was covered in ocean.  (This annotation contains an image)
Describe some of the ways that the characters in the story try to keep the memory of the dead alive. 

44 Petunia

Describe how Zinny has been transformed by her journey. 
Throughout the story, Zinny refers to the hand of God as being something that gives and takes away. Think about how the image of the hand of God is being use differently in this sentence. 

45 Chicory

In your own words, explain why the title of the story is called Chasing Redbird. 
This is the final reference to the spaghetti and meatball metaphor that was introduced early in the book.  What are examples of "good meatballs" and "bad meatballs" in Zinny's life? 
As you read the legend of Chicory, think about how it is similar to the way Zinny has treated Jake throughout the story.  (This annotation contains an image)
This passage describes how Zinny gave the things she found along the trail to the woman at the historical museum.  It relates to the Sharing the Gift phase of the Hero's Journey cycle.  Describe other ways in which Zinny shared gifts of her journey. 

46 The Chase

A sentry is a soldier who stands guard over an area. Zinny is comparing the zinnia flowers to guards because of the way they are lined up and seem to protect the trail. 
Chapters 31-46