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Discussion Module

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Beige
b
y Cecil Castellucci

Publishing Information: Candlewick Press: Cambridge, Mass., 2007
ISBN: 9780763630669
Pages
: 307 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

Summary:
Okay, so what is everyone else is impressed that her dad is a punk-rock legend. Katy is far from impressed. In fact, she finds his whole punk life style bizarre and foreign. Against her will, Katy is stuck living with him In Los Angeles while her mother goes off to Peru to work on her thesis. Katy is a normal, book-loving quiet girl who is forced to stay with her estranged father.  To make matters worse, a doom-and-gloom punk-rock girl, Lake, is bribed to keep Katy company during her stay in L.A. Katy feels abandoned by her mother, and feels like an outcast in her father’s punk-rock legend world. Katy is forced to confront her less than close relationship with her father, as well as what it really means to be “beige.” 
   

Book Talk:
Imagine being a teenager, and you are the conservative conformist who would rather curl up with a good classic book rather than go hear some loud, obnoxious punk music, which you hate. On the other hand, your father, whom you hardly know, is the loud, punk-rocker who lives the Los Angeles music scene. This is Katy’s situation, and she is less than proud of her father, whom she must spend two weeks with in Los Angeles. Katy is mortified by her father as soon as he picks her up from the Los Angeles airport: 
     Everybody sees him.   The Rat is six feet five inches tall and wears a tiny cowboy hat on his head. He’s got  a rolled up cigarette ( I hope not a joint) hanging out of his mouth, and his skinny sleeve-tattooed arms poke out of his once black, now faded gray T-Shirt that says NOSTRA DUMB ASS.  His pegged jeans are dingy and look like he wears them every single day.   
     My father, Beau Ratner, punk name The Rat, looks just like a bum (p. 3).

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Conformity vs. Rebellion
Drugs and Alcohol Addiction
Fitting in/Outcast
Music (Different Styles)
Parent-Child Relationships
Self-discovery

Awards & Reviews:
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2008
YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008

Booklist, September 1, 2007
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007
Publishers Weekly
, June 17, 2007, p. 56
School Library Journal, August 1, 2007, p. 112


Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. What does it mean to “conform?" Give examples, such as yourself or anyone you know.
  2. What does it mean to “rebel?” Give examples of what would be considered a rebellious act. 
  3. In regard to the above questions, do you know anyone who would be considered rebellious? How about conformity, do you know of anyone who could be an example of conformity? These examples can include family, friends, famous people, activists, or even yourself. 
  4. A big theme in this story is music. Music goes hand in hand with rebellion and sometimes conformity. Look through your music collection or go on a lyric website. Can you find any songs that are examples of conformity or rebellion?
  5. In what way does Katy more the “parent” like? In what way is “The Rat” more teenager-like?
  6. Why does Lake call Katy “Beige?" Is this necessarily a bad thing to be beige?
  7. Both Lake’s and Katy’s mothers were involved with drugs and alcohol addiction. Katy’s mother obviously overcame her addiction and turned her life around. What happened to Lake’s mom? Why do you think one mom was able to overcome her addiction while the other did not? 
  8. How did Lake feel about her mom’s fate? How did it affect her relationship with Katy?
  9. All the chapters are cleverly titled from song lyrics with the artist name. Look through the chapters, what connections do these songs have to what is happening in the chapter?
  10. Pretend you are a music critic. Write a music review for Lake’s band from Katy’s viewpoint.

Related Websites:
Author's Website: http://www.misscecil.com

All Music Guide: http://www.allmusic.com

Read-a-Likes:
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman, 2006
Heavy Metal and You by Christopher Krovatin, 2005
Jimi and Me
by Jaime Adoff, 2005
My Life Starring Mum by Chloe Rayban, 2006
Orpheus Obsession
by Dakota Lane, 2005
Pepperland by Mark Delaney, 2004
Plastic Fantastic
by Simon Cheshire, 2006
Sweet 16 by Kate Brian, 2006

Other Books by the Author:
Boy Proof, 2005
The Queen of Cool, 2006
The Plain Janes, 2007

About the Author:
Cecil Castellucci is a multi-talented writer who dabbles in acting, directing, music, and of course, writing. She resides in Los Angeles, California. Like her character in Beige, Ms. Castellucci moved to Los Angeles from Canada ...Montreal to be exact. Also like Katy, from Beige, Ms. Castellucci felt very “beige” when she first arrived in L.A. after meeting so many cool, California punk people. Beige is a fantastic novel, and Cecil Castellucci is a very talented writer. Her characters are wonderfully real and fresh. Her story is absorbing enough to be read all in one sitting (so start this one on an empty Saturday!). Beige is an honest, real, intelligent, and very well-written book for music lovers and those of us who can't tell the difference etween the great and the popular alike!

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