Teachers across the country amazed me with their different methods of teaching PAPERBOY in the classroom.  I often remarked that they taught me so much more about my own book.

As my New Year’s gift to teachers – and all readers – here are ten discussion ideas for COPYBOY.

  1. Why does Victor Vollmer spend so much time in his room typing passages from books?
  2. Victor is fascinated with maps. He says he thinks of maps as fiction and where his body is on earth as nonfiction. Find a road atlas of the United States and trace his journey from Memphis to Venice, LA, and back. Can you locate the highways and roads described in the text?
  3. The Mississippi River below New Orleans spreads out in a geographical structure known as a “finger delta.” Find a map (or look on the end sheets of the book) and explore how many different ways the river finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
  4. The path and timeline of Hurricane Betsy that are detailed in the novel create an accurate portrayal of the deadly storm. Can you find the track of the storm on a weather map on the Internet and explain what was so unusual about the hurricane’s path?
  5. Hurricane Betsy was the first storm in the United States to cause damage of more than $1 billion in 1965 dollars. How much would that be in today’s dollars? Hint: https://westegg.com/inflation/

And now for more complex discussions:

  1. Several characters in the book are of “Cajun” or of French-Acadian descent. How did this ethnic group end up in South Louisiana?
  2. Victor Vollmer is 17 in Copyboyand may seem naïve to today’s readers, more than 50 years later. What are some of the ways Victor may be unlike young people of the 21stCentury?
  3. Cajun French has some similarities but is essentially different from the formal French language spoken in Europe. Explore some of the words in the Cajun dialect and see how they might differ from the pure French language. What exactly is a “dialect?’
  4. Both Victor and Philomene Moreau have disagreements with their parents, but for much different reasons. Discuss how the reasons differ.
  5. Victor’s journey from Memphis to the end of the Mississippi River and back took four days, the same amount of time as Santiago spent seeking and fighting the great fish in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Discuss other similarities in the two books?
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