Book Club Cheerleader

Celebrating Fun

Road Trip!  

It’s time to try something new. I just reconnected with a friend from high school. Nancy was the quiet, but fun, type back then. What has she been up to in the past few decades? Well, she took up the trumpet at age 29, and then joined the drum corps at the age of 46. She says, “[It was] one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was so worth it." At the time she wrote me, she was headed out of town to go March in a Fourth of July Parade for the weekend. And what does Nancy think is the best part? "The uniforms are WAY COOL." Spoken like a true military brat!

I’m not suggesting that you take your book club to march with Nancy’s drum corps—although, if ya’ll have some ‘WAY COOL’ book club tee shirts, they just might let you crash the party. But, I am suggesting that it’s time to take your girls on the road—perhaps to a literary event. There are some very fun ‘happenings’ to consider. In the past week, some girlfriends and I have attended a local authors’ day at a city library nearby, and two author signings at bookstores. We love meeting authors, and not being shy is helpful, since my girlfriends ask some outrageous questions! And of course, after hearing the authors talk about their books—you can’t wait to buy them and put them atop your never-ending stack of Fabulous-Books-That-I-Must-Read!

Some fun events to put on your calendars for later include: The Book Group Expo (San Jose, CA—usually in October—so keep checking for updates) Litquake (San Francisco, CA—October 9-17, 2009) or The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend's Weekend (Jefferson, TX- January 14-17, 2010.) Also, check out (pun intended) your local public library for book and author events they sponsor.


Meet authors, learn about some great books—all while partying with your girlfriends! We can all get used to this “something new” thing! Go ahead and beat your drums!


Rah, Rah, Reading!



P.S. Also, please be sure to take a look at the Tip of The Week, where you’ll learn more about the 4 Big Days of Celebration planned for The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend's Weekend.

Stage a Hollywood
 Costume Party


                Have book group members come as their favorite movie celebrity. In the past, I’ve gone as Ziyi Zhang playing Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha; Meryl Streep as Isek Dinesen in Out of Africa; and my favorite: Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen in Becoming Jane Austen. This year I went as John Travolta playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, and my Book Club Cheerleader partner-in-crime, Kay Hodges, easily transformed herself into Audrey Hepburn playing Holly Go-Lightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's The champagne flowed freely and the paparazzi blinded us with their flashes—but we still had too much fun for one evening!


            The Oscars may be over at Hollywood and Highlands—but the Real Party has just begun at YOUR book club!



Party Place Archives:

Academy Awards 2.12.09

Man of the House
"Teen Talk" Game

          Last January I met the Wonderful Wizard of Oz—only to find out he was really the Man of the House! Ad Hudler’s witty book, Man of the House, is one of the Pulpwood Queen picks for July. And what a great read for sitting by the lake, beach, or your own back yard! (Hint: Just be sure to have a towel or tissue ready in case you spit your Diet Coke out—I’m pretty sure mine went up my nose at some point during one of the funnier parts…)


          Here’s a fun game to play if your book club is discussing Ad’s book this month. I call it “Teen Talk”—you might know it as “Mad Gab”—the Mattel game where you basically run the words together to come up with the catch phrase.  You can use this as an icebreaker during social hour to kick off your meeting, or I often send it out to  book group members ahead of time and let them email me their answers. You can then put participants names in a hat (I give the first responder an extra name for better odds) and draw at the meeting for the FABULOUS Prize winner.


          Fun and inexpensive gifts might include: some pretty print work gloves (Jessica would choose the leopard one, I bet), some sweet-smelling designer soaps, or a pink hammer.  Or go crazy by making your own Clumsy Cloth—one of my favs from the book—or find an old DVD of Fatal Attraction on eBay. As always—just use your imagination. And have fun celebrating this entertaining book!



Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club.

First Famous Lines Match  Game

          This Month my library book club celebrates Jeannette Walls true-life novel of her Grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, Half Broke Horses. It begins, “Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” A great opening line I fell in love with—once I realized she wasn’t talking about me and my buddies… It got me thinking about other famous first lines in previous novels, and so that is what your challenge is this month. Match the opening lines below with the novel they launched…

Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club.

Maisie Dobbs Book Club in a Box:

          Woodland Reads is celebrating Jacqueline Winspear’s original Maisie Dobb’s Mystery,Maisie Dobbs: A Novel, on May 6th—and to help everyone have fun with this wonderful story, we’ve of course, created some fun stuff! These were originally designed with high school teachers in mind, but you can certainly take advantage of them for your own local book club!

           The Woodland Reads team and The Book Club Cheerleader™ developed the following activities, games and reference materials to:

Assist teachers in facilitating book discussions and related activities
- Help students understand more of the unique context of the time period as well as the geographic setting of the book
- Enhance the student’s experience in reading and understanding Maisie Dobbs:  A Novel
- Introduce some fun activities to lighten the learning mood

          Since we obviously built more activities than one teacher can use, our hope is that one or two of these activities and resources might be helpful to the teacher in bringing Maisie Dobbs to life for her classroom. We also ask that any teacher who uses these materials please give us feedback as to what struck you as most useful, how you used it, and what other ideas you have. This should help us next year in tailoring Book Club in a Box to more closely meet your needs.


           Also, since this version of Book Club in a Box is posted where students and others may have access to the materials, by necessity, we have not included the answer keys to the games and activities. Please contact us by email and we will be happy to forward the appropriate answer keys to you.



The Woodland Reads Team &

The Book Club Cheerleader

Click on the italicized links below to open a pdf file you can print for your book club:

Discussion Questions:

Coming of Age


Character Bingo Game

List of Who’s Who

Historical Timeline

Landmarks of London, England, and The World

Vocabulary Words:

Word Scramble

Word List by page

Definitions: Global English

Definitions: British English

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Pictogram  Game

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, has garnered enviable critical praise—from Sara Gruen and Garth Stein to Lisa See and Kirkus Reviews—and justifiably so! It has also won numerous awards. One of my favorite websites, BookBrowse, named it as one of its “Top 3 Favorite Books” of 2009.  The Pulpwood Queens Book Club (the largest meet-and-greet book club in the world with over 262 chapters) named it their “Best Bonus Book” of 2009. And most recently, “Hotel” has won the 2009 Montana Book Award, sponsored by the Friends of the Missoula Public Library. So it’s no surprise that The Book Club Cheerleader is giving it a Two Pom Pom shake, as well!

If your book club is celebrating thisImportantbook, here’s a fun game you can play to remind your members of the people, places and things found in Hotel. Enjoy your celebration.

If your book club has not read this book yet—whad’re ya waiting for?



Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file
to use for your book club.

Saving Cicadas

For this month’s quiz in honor of Nicole’s lovely ghost story, I decided to take a somewhat different angle and focus on the Cicadas of the title. Many popular books have been written recently with insectan titles. “Insects?” you say, “Yuck!” But think about it. Some insects—such as the Cicada and Dragonfly—evoke feelings of grace and delicacy—think of their translucent wings reflecting iridescence in the sunlight. While others—such as the Hornet and the Scorpion—bring to mind a fierce, violent energy.  Both are powerful references for an author to use, hinting at what might wait for you inside the book cover.

Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club.

Saving Cicadas Fabulous Prize Ideas:

In keeping with our “bug” theme the following prizes might be appropriate:

Door Tag: A homemade Do-Not Disturb doorknob tag that reads, “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Reading”. (You’ll forgive the pun, won’t you?) You can make these easily by using your favorite graphics program (I use MS Publisher) and printing your design onto photo paper for a durable surface.

Vintage Brooch: Your local thrift shop can yield a treasure trove of surprises! You may find Dragonflies, Butterflies, Ladybugs, or even Scarabs pins. I collect bees (it’s a long story…)

Garden Book: Look for books on garden pests at any hardware or used book store.

Live Ladybugs: Every gardener will want a bag of these. An organic way to rid your old roses of those pesky aphids! Home and Garden centers carry these in the spring.

Fly Swatter: Recognizing that all insects aren’t as cute as ladybugs and butterflies, every house can always use another fly swatter—tie a coordinating  polka dot ribbon on the neck—and it’s a practical gift.

Candles: This time of year you find lovely citronella candles in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Perhaps a less violent way of keeping those flying insects away from your picnic table.

As always, I’m curious what creative ideas readers imagine. Let me know what you came up with, as well! If you need an answer key, please contact me, and I’ll be happy to email it to you.



Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story – The Game

        Although I wrote about this enchanting book back in ‘09, since several of my book clubs have chosen it for future selections, I thought it was time to post a corresponding quiz.  

Suggestions for Fabulous Prizes might include:

- Magic wands—every girl needs one on her desk to chase away the messy desk demons

- Pixie Dust—disguised as yummy-smelling bath salts

- Glass Slippers—in the form of shoe-designed note cards—girly, but also handy

- Kitchen Witch—I must confess, I’m not really sure what these are—but my cousin swears by hers. (I only have a kitchen because it came with the house—so I’ll have to trust her on this one.

- Wicked Mug—“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch”

- Lord of the Rings DVD –Who doesn’t want to watch Aragorn now and again?

- Guardian Angel –a talisman to tuck in your handbag or a little pin to wear on your lapel—you may have to make sure it’s a “wild angel”…

Or just let your magical imagination run wild!




Click on the picture above to open a
printable pdf file to use for your book club.

The Help Pictogram Game

One of the most talked about books this year is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Set in the South in the 60’s, the book drops you into the culture of “Mad Men” meets “Mississippi Burning.” Coincidentally, as I was designing the following game for one of my book clubs who will be discussing The Help on Wednesday, I received a letter from another reader asking about food tips for her upcoming meeting celebrating the same book—thus illustrating the popularity of this great book club read. So, be sure to check out the Coach’s Column for ideas on book club eats for The Help, as well.

The following word game introduces some of the people, place and things plucked from the pages of The Help. Have fun with these themes before immersing yourselves into this highly discussable novel. 



Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club. (There are 4 pages.)

American Architecture Match Game:

        I love Architecture! I have lived in several Mid-century Moderns, a ‘70s Alpine, three Victorians, and our recently remodeled lake house resulted in an interesting mash-up of Modernistic meets California Bungalow. This practical experience, by no way makes me an expert in architecture—just a fan of different styles.

         This month, two of my book clubs selected The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, and Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. Still not an expert, the terms “Usonian”, “Prairie”, and “Renaissance” had me soaring through cyberspace looking up definitions—and image searching for pictures to illustrate the various styles. Now, if another club wants to read The Women, by TC Boyle, I could begin the reading a little better informed…

            According to Jeffery Howe, professor of Fine Arts at Boston College, and author of The Houses We Live In,  there are (more or less) twelve distinctively American Architectural Styles. This month’s match game shows how well you know your styles—and the architects who brought them to American cities.

Have Fun!


Icebreakers in an Ice Cube

I’ve seen TABLE TOPICS in game, gift and stationery stores before. There’s the ‘family’ edition, the one for ‘couples’—and even ‘girls night out’ version—but I was never interested until I saw the “BOOKCLUB EDITION.” And then, of course, I had to pick one up.

The clear plastic "ice-cube" contains over 100 questions that can be asked in a variety of ways. Used as an icebreaker, each person could draw a question from the pack; a few questions could be asked of all—in a round robin style; or just those who have a ready answer to a question could share their responses. It would also be a fun game to play at a girl’s weekend.


Some of my favorite cards read, "How would you sum up this book in one word?", "How would you illustrate the cover?", "If the plot of this book were a dream, what would it signify for you?" Since many of the questions are personal, using them may start the conversation off in a different direction than usual.


You may want to try these unusual, thought-provoking questions the next time you facilitate your book club meeting.


Rah, Rah, Reading,



People of the Book
 Scramble Game

Click on the picture above to open a
printable pdf file to use for your book club.
Did you have trouble keeping all the characters straight? You can refer to the People Map on our Celebrating Books page.



            One of the things that made me think I would love People of the Book—beside the fact that Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Geraldine Brooks, wrote it—was that it was about one of my favorite topics: BOOKS! So using that general theme for your FABULOUS PRIZE, gives you a lot of inspiration.


Signed Books: How about a book signed by the author? Even if you were out of town when your favorite author toured through your neck of the woods, many booksellers have extra copies signed and waiting—just for folks like you. So go grab one that you think your reading group gals would like to read.


Scrap Book: Combining the idea of ‘People’ and ‘Book’ from the title, how about a small scrapbook or photo album? With the plethora of designs available, perhaps you could find one with an old world-inspired print. You could leave the book blank, but why not slip in a picture of the book cover (downloaded off the internet and sized to fit) and the latest picture of your book club into the first couple of photo slots? She can fill in the rest with whomever she likes, but her favorite book babes will always be nearby.


Journal: A great gift for any reader is a journal. Like the scrapbooks mentioned above, many stores carry a variety of styles that would come in handy for readers to write down their favorite quotes, questions and reactions as they’re reading. In fact, there are some great Book Club Journals on the market. Flip through them in person or on line to find one you like. Typically, there are spaces for each book, plus sections to write down books recommended from friends and other book-y resources (ooh-like…)


            These are just a few examples—I’m sure if you tuck the idea of ‘books’ into your subconscious, the next time you’re shopping, something will jump out at you.


            Winning prizes is just one of the fun things about Winning Book Clubs!



The "Guernsey" Pictogram Game

Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club. (There are 2 pages.)

Song Yet Sung
"Teen Talk" Game

Click on the picture above to open a printable pdf file to use for your book club.
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