Gail Gauthier   www.gailgauthier.com
Teaching Literature


A Year With Butch And Spike


A Year With Butch And Spike takes place over the course of a school year. But that's not a plot. The plot to this story involves the Cootches' running battle with Mrs. McNulty and how Jasper gets involved in it. Here is an opportunity to discuss the difference between a plot and a series of scenes. You could also discuss whether or not individual events, or scenes, in the book contribute to the actual story line.


Characters should be dynamic (or if they're not, there should be a good reason why they're not). The three main characters in Butch and Spike definitely change as a result of their experiences in sixth grade and an argument could be made that the three secondary characters (Lyddy, Christine, and Donny) do also. So, talk about it.

Point of View:

Jasper Gordon is a first person narrator, so here is an opportunity to point out the difference between first and third person point of view. When a first person narrator is used in a book, readers can only find out about what the narrator knows. In Butch and Spike, how do we readers find out about: Butch's and Spike's bad reputations? The grades they received on their report cards? The fact that their fathers are twins and Cootches, too? That Spike is 'at risk'?


The setting of a particular scene or event can tell us something about the characters in the scene. Do the faded dictionaries, stiff, old National Geographics, and rigid adherence to alphabetical order in Mrs. McNulty's classroom tell us something about her? Does Mr. Gordon's yard tell us something about him? What about Jasper's bedroom? And Spike's family room and bedroom?


Spike gives a metaphor lecture early in Butch and Spike. Younger kids usually associate metaphors with flowery descriptions of things, but the last chapter of Butch and Spike includes a metaphor that explains something about life. Point out to your students that metaphors can do more than create pretty pictures.

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June 29, 2020