Reading Group Guide

    Having had a near-death experience in the accident that killed his younger sister Wenny, eleven-year-old Will tries to cope with the situation by writing her letters that are in turn humorous, informative, angry, and finally an honest realization of life's twists and turns.
    Family; Death; Letter writing; Afterlife; Brothers and sisters
    • From what Will writes to Wenny, what kind of person do you think she was? How do her parents remember her? Are these memories changed because Wenny is dead? Why do Will's parents become so upset when he wants to make Wenny a birthday cake or when he is in her room?
    • When Will tries to tell the adults about the light and tunnel, how do they react? Why do you think they did and said the things they did to Will? If you had a friend who had a near-death experience, what do you think you would say to them?
    • Do you believe that near-death experiences really happen? If a situation similar to this were to happen to you, would you tell anyone? Why or why not?
    • Visit the author's website (, click on "Teachers/Librarians," and read Carey's description of the Child Hero. Use the website questions to explore Will's situation.
    • Choose either a book character that has died or even a real person and keep a journal of letters to this character or person.
    • Have a tarantula as a class pet or bring in an expert to show and discuss its care.
    This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
    Prepared by Lesa Dierking
    © William Allen White Children's Book Award
    Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

About the Author

Janet Lee Carey
Photograph by Heidi Pettit

Janet Lee Carey

JANET LEE CAREY grew up in Marin County California surrounded by whispering redwoods. Sunlight cut through ocean mist and fingered through the branches. It was in this magical place that she first dreamed of writing books. Her award-winning teen fantasy novels are translated into many languages. Some include: The Dragons of Noor, which won a Teens Read Too Gold Star Award for Excellence, Stealing Death, which received a School Library Journal starred review, Dragon’s Keep, an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and Wenny Has Wings, a Mark Twain Award recipient and a Sony Feature Film Japan, 2008. Janet lives with her family, dusty book stacks, and imperious cat near Phantom Lake in Washington. Visit Janet online at