Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Goldfish Boy

Thompson, Lisa (Author)
Scholastic 2017. 316 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781338053920 (hardcover)
9781338053944 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, figurative language, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The debilitating effects of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are observed from the inside out, in this mystery story that has 12-year-old Matthew Corbin solving the kidnapping of a neighbourhood toddler, despite—and because of—his OCD.

The language beautifully and respectfully sketches Matt’s restricted world of obsessive cleaning and note-taking on events outside his window: “I lived on a quiet, dead-end street in a town full of people who said how great it was they didn’t live in the big, smelly city of London—and then who spent most of their morning desperately trying to get there.”

But as the plot unfolds, Matt’s seeming contentment shifts to a sense of dissatisfaction: “Tuesday, July 29th, 11:34 am. Bedroom … Number of missing neighbors = 1. Number of useless twelve-year-olds = 1.” As the sense of urgency around the missing child mounts, so do the grim manifestations of Matt’s scrubbing habits: “The sores on my hands were throbbing so much I would have to ask Mum for a painkiller before long.”

Throughout the tale, Matt’s relationships evolve with nuance and credibility: with Mum and Dad, and their conflicting approaches to Matt’s disorder; with Melody, the odd-duck classmate; with Jake, erstwhile friend turned enemy; and finally with his own fears, as circumstances force him out of his room. In the end, friendship and cooperation solve the kidnapping mystery—and help Matt on his journey toward mental health.

  •  

    First-person narrators are a reader’s main entry point into the narrative. Here, it is through the eyes of an observant young narrator. Read the first chapter and use a think-aloud to practise asking questions.

  •  

    In small literature circle groups, discuss the way protagonists with mental health issues are characterized. Compare Matthew to other teens with OCD who are featured in YA literature.

  •  

    Include the text in a set that considers the ways mental health is addressed in YA literature. This can be done through a combination of literature circle discussions and reflective writing activities.

  •  

    What do you know about OCD? Do some research and share your findings in a small group. Do you have any habits or routines that you repeat or feel compelled to act upon, perhaps without realizing? Does that make you obsessive compulsive? Discuss your answers.

  •  

    Select Matthew, Melody or Jake and, while you read, take note of information that supports the character’s development.

  •  

    What do you believe is the theme of this novel? Write an explanatory essay and provide distinct references to the novel to support your idea.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences