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4-6th Grade Virtual Book Club: Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland w/ DIY Water Drawing

Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland is a juvenile historical fiction novel, with a spooky twist.

Ophelia Harrison learned that she could see ghosts the night her father saved her and her mother from horrible fate, one cold November night in 1922. Forced to flee their home, Ophie and her mother move to Pittsburgh to stay with their aunt and cousins. To pay their way, the two take jobs at a Daffodil Manor, the home of the wealthy Caruthers family. But Daffodil Manor has secrets of its own.

Home to many spirits, Ophie forms an unlikely friendship with a former maid, who died a horrific death. Ophie is determined to bring her new friend peace by finding and exposing her killer. But dealing with the dead can be dangerous and Ophie may just be in over her head.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?

  2. Ophie’s Ghost won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Why do you think this book does or does not deserve this honor?

  3. If you could see and communicate with ghosts, who would you want to see and why?

  4. In an author’s note included in advance editions of the book, Ireland writes that she wanted to explore the question, “How do we grieve when the ghosts of our loss appear in the everyday suffering around us?” What do you think this means?

  5. What is “segregation?” Can you give some examples from the book?

  6. Why doesn’t Ophie’s mom want to move into Daffodil manor?

  7. In this book the sections are separated by a short narrative from the perspective of the train, the manor, the city, the attic. What do you think is being achieved with these narratives? Did you like them?

  8. Ophie has a strong sense of justice. She wants to speak up even when her mother tells her to keep quiet. What do you think about Ophie as a character?

  9. Who did you think murdered Clara? Why?

  10. What realization does Ophie make about her gift after helping Clara move on?

DIY: Water Drawing


  • Dry Erase Marker

  • Water

  • Flat/Smooth container or plate—Ceramic or Glass


  • Take your dry erase marker and draw small pictures or letters onto your container or plate. Let dry for a few seconds.

  • Slowly pour water close to the edge of your drawing. The drawing should slowly lift and float as you add the water.

Questions to ask:

  1. Does your picture look like it is moving?

  2. Did you draw thick lines or thin? Did a particular color work best?

  3. What happens if you try to lift up your drawings with your fingers?


"Permanent indelible markers, like the kind that Sharpie makes, rely on inks with a strong adhesive to stick to almost any surface you write on. But dry erase markers use inks with a minimal adhesive, making notes and drawings that can be easily wiped away afterwards." "The ink in dry erase markers is also insoluble. That means it can’t be dissolved in a liquid, and more importantly, it means it’s less dense than water. When you pour water onto a dry erase stick figure doodled on a smooth surface, a strong buoyancy force overcomes the stickiness of the ink, pulling the doodle off the surface and causing it to not-so-magically float on the water. "


How'd it go:

Although, we had a small crew for this book club, we did have quite the lively discussion. But, once again, in true Ms. Maranda fashion, my STEM activity worked beautifully at my house and not so much during the club. One of the kids did get it to work but my little floaty letters wanted to be more adhesive than buoyant today. Sigh, such is experimentation!

That's all for now!


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