Author Feature-Kathryn Ormsbee

Spirit of Texas Reading Program-High School

Featured Author


Kathryn Ormsbee

Lucky Few


Kathryn Ormsbee grew up with a secret garden in her backyard and a spaceship in her basement. She is the author of The Water and the Wild and the YA novels Lucky Few and Tash Hearts Tolstoy. She’s lived in lots of fascinating cities, from Austin to Birmingham to London to Seville, but she currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.


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Book Trailer


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Book Quiz/Discussion Questions

Printable Copy


  1. This book discusses four different types of homeschool students. Do you have an immediate reaction when you hear that someone is homeschooled? What is your impression and why?
  2. If you could choose what type of school which would you prefer: homeschool, private, charter or public?  Why? 
  3. What do you think of Max’s death list? Is it too macabre, or is it something that is helpful?
  4. Max uses his death list as a way to get over fears. What do you think is the best way to get over a fear?
  5. “You have to pick your battles. And you have to learn that disagreement doesn’t equal disrespect.” This was what Stevie’s mother said to her regarding her attending the co-op after they kicked out Sanger.  Do you agree with this statement?
  6. What do you think about Jessica’s character? If you were in Jessica’s shoes, would you have gone to visit Stevie after their confrontation?
  7. What do you think about the co-op’s decision to tell Sanger’s mothers that they no longer want Sanger to be part of the organization?
  8. Stevie and Sanger have a very close friendship.  They are, in fact, best friends and have a best friend card - a card stating that they will do whatever the other asks without question.  Do you have a similar friendship?  What do you think about their BFF card?
  9.  Do you think that Max and Stevie will start dating again?  Where do you see this relationship going?
  10. If you were to ever fake your own death, what would you do?





















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Academic Programs

Printable Copy of Program

 Supplemental Documents

Research Journal

Activity 1: Homeschool vs. Public



Students will write a persuasive essay on homeschooling or the traditional public school system.  Students will analyze the pros and the cons of each system, and then choose which they believe is the best method.  



English 1 - 8, 10 A, 11 B, 12 A-D, 13 A-E, 14 A-C, 15 C, 17 A-C, 18 A-B, 20 A-B, 21 A-C, 22 A-C, 23 A-E, 24 A-C


Books to Display

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein

The Making of Americans: A Democracy and Our Schools by E.D. Hirsch

Homeschooling: a Family’s Journey by Gregory Millman

Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education by Terry M. Moe and John E. Cubb

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David Pritchard

The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself by Glenn H. Reynolds

Homeschooling edited by Heidi Watkins


Supply List

Access to computers for word processing and research

Notebook paper

Writing utensil

Student Research Journal


Activity Resources

Student Research Journal


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

10 Advantages to Public Education.

Advantages of Public Schools.

Homeschooling: An Overview.

Homeschooling Teen.

Public School vs. Homeschool.

Top 10 Homeschooling FAQs.



Activity 2: What’s In an Image? Photography Free-Writing



Students will view various photographs that connect to issues raised in Lucky Few, and then write freely about each image.



English II - 5; 12 A; 13; 18 A-B; 19


Books to Display

Speak of Me As I Am by Sonia Belasco

The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano

Young Man With Camera by Amil Sher

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick


Supply List

Access to printer and paper

Paper and writing utensils for students

Optional: access to projector


Detailed Description of Activity

Project images where students can see them, or print out to poster size. Ask students to write about how each of the photographs makes them feel and its relationship to Lucky Few.


Barton Springs: Then & Now

Look at pictures of Barton Springs from the early 20th century and today side by side. What has changed? What hasn’t? What do you think about Stevie’s infatuation with the place? What feelings do these images conjure?


Peaceful Protest

Choose an image of a protest that will resonate with your community. Ask students to write freely about the photograph. What is the place of protest in American democracy?


Alternatively, send kids out with digital cameras or their smartphones to take photos that reflect their experience with Lucky Few. Have them trade images with classmates and free write about the photographs.


Activity Resources



Barton Springs: Then & Now

Creative Commons

Creative Commons


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

10 of the Most Iconic Protest Photos

Famous Protests, Riots, and Marches

Teachers Use Photo Prompts to Spark Writing.


Activity 3: Take a Stance! Research on Activism

Students will research topics related to social activism. This is a research expository paper, so students will not take a stance on an issue but will research the multiple facets of an issue.

English III - 11 A-B; 13 A-E; 20 A-B; 21 A-C; 23 A-E


Books to Display
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

Your Water Footprint: the Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy

47 Things You Can Do For the Environment by Lexi Petronis

We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change by Sally M. Walker

Supply List
Access to a computer for research and typing

Access to research databases

Notebook paper

Writing utensil

Detailed Description of Activity
Students will research topics on social activism. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: water conservation, green energy, recycling, pollution, oil spills. Students will pick a broad topic and then narrow it down into a specific topic. On a sheet of notebook paper, have students create a KWL chart about their topic, where they list what they Know, Want to know, and Learned.


Once students have narrowed down their research topic, they can begin researching through the school’s databases. For English teachers, this is a great opportunity to partner with the school librarian and show students how to properly search databases and cite their sources. After students have collected 2-3 sources, they may begin typing their paper to share what they found.

Activity Resources
“K-W-L Chart”

“Writing a Paper: Outlining”


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Active Programs

Printable Copy of Program

Supplemental Documents

Giant Hamburger

Pretty in Pink Interactive Instructions

Pretty in Pink Recipes

Scavenger Hunt Clues


Active Program 1:

Photo Scavenger Hunt (or, 23 Ways to Fake a Photo Without Dying (Of Laughter))



Lucky Few is centered on a mission: Max will confront his fear of death by faking it 23 times in photographic form. In this less morbid version of Max’s photography project, teens will compete in a photo scavenger hunt, faking their own funny scenarios. This activity encourages teamwork and creative thinking, as well as paying homage to Lucky Few.


Books to Display

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn

Paper Towns by John Green

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The End of FUN by Sean McGinty


Supply List

Cameras, phones, or tablets - can be provided by the library, or teens may use their personal devices

Post-It notes

Writing utensils



Tape or glue

Heart shaped pinata and candy to stuff it with

Sidewalk chalk

Paper for paper airplanes and BFF card



BFF Card

Optional: photo printer and appropriate paper/film

Optional: prizes


Detailed Description of Activity

Teens have two hours to complete a photo scavenger hunt challenge. Teens may use their own devices or devices provided by the library to take photos. Librarians may use the scavenger hunt provided, which loosely correlates to Max’s photo list, or they may wish to rewrite some or all of the challenges to highlight special local features.


Before the hunt begins, you will need to prepare a few props. First, a giant hamburger in honor of Max’s first challenge: choking on a hamburger. Download the PDF, print, and assemble with tape. You may wish to affix it to cardboard with tape or glue to sturdy it. Hide in the library. Make or buy a heart shaped pinata, stuff, and hide in the library. Set out chalk, sunglasses, markers, and paper for paper airplanes and BFF cards where teens can readily find the materials. Print off enough scavenger hunt challenge lists for each team to have one, and cut in half.


On the day of, have the teens arrive at a prearranged meeting spot. Divide the teens into groups of 4-10. Make sure each team has a copy of the scavenger hunt challenges, a stack of post-it notes, and something to write with. Explain the rules and encourage the teens to be creative when coming up with photos to fit the challenges.


At the end of the two hour mark (which may be shortened or lengthened to fit time constraints), invite teens back to the meeting spot for snacks and to share photos. You may want to encourage them to use a special hashtag if they are posting to social media. Librarians may wish to print out favorite photos for each teen as a keepsake. The photos could also be displayed in the library and shared on the library’s social media accounts.



Award a prize of your choosing to the team with the most points at the end of the challenge.


Activity Resources

Scavenger Hunt Challenges

Giant Hamburger printable


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

20 Fun Picture Tasks - Photo Scavenger Hunt List for Team Building

Photo Scavenger Hunt


Active Program 2:

Pretty In Pink Movie Night



The classic Brat Pack film Pretty in Pink (1986) plays a large part in Lucky Few, Stevie likening her relationship to Sanger with that of Andie and Duckie in the movie. Teens will celebrate strong friendships like Stevie and Sanger’s with a movie night featuring the 80s classic.


Books to Display

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa


Supply List

Copy of Pretty in Pink (1986)  PG-13 *note that it is licensed for viewing in public libraries and K-12 schools per Movie Licensing USA

Projector and screen or other means of viewing


For the Interactive Movie:

Assortment of wacky hats

Beach ball


Copies of the action list

Fake flower and safety pin “corsages”

Heart glow sticks

Hershey’s Kisses

Monopoly money

Paper bags

Pink candy such as Nerds, Airheads, Blow Pops, Starburst, etc.

Puppy temporary tattoos

Rubber ducks

Self-adhesive googly eyes


Toy cars


For the snacks (to feed 20):

2 bottles store-bought pink lemonade

20 plates

20 cups

20 napkins

Serving platter for cupcakes

Serving bowl + scoop for popcorn


Pretty in Pink Popcorn

Plain microwave popcorn equivalent to 24 cups popped (6 oz unpopped)

2/3 cup half and half

1 tbsp light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Red or pink food coloring




Measuring cup and spoons


2 large mixing bowls

2 baking sheets

Airtight bags or containers


Strawberry Cupcakes

1 box plain white cake mix

1 (3oz) package strawberry Jell-O

15 oz frozen strawberries, thawed

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

6 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tbsp heavy cream

24 fresh strawberries



Electric mixer

Measuring cups and spoons

2 muffin tins

24 paper cupcake liners

Pastry bag and tip or plastic baggie


Suggested decorations:

Pink tablecloth

Pink serving ware

Sparkly silver table toppers


Detailed Description of Activity

Invite teens to the library for an evening celebrating the 80’s gloriousness that is Pretty in Pink,  a movie that is near and dear to Stevie and Sanger in Lucky Few. Teens will watch the film, enjoy a menu of deliciously pink foods, and play a game of Pretty in Pink Bingo.


The day before the event, prepare Pretty in Pink Popcorn and Strawberry Cupcakes according to the recipes provided. Fill paper bags (one for each teen) with the items they will need to participate in the interactive movie. The day of, set up the movie, plate the snacks, and decorate the viewing space to have a pink, 80’s vibe if desired. Before the movie begins, give each teen an activity bag. Encourage teens to perform the corresponding action for each highlighted instance in the movie.


Pretty in Pink Interactive Movie

You hear the song “Pretty in Pink” - sing along

You see the color pink - eat pink candy

You see Andie’s dog for the first time  - put on temporary puppy tattoo

Duckie makes a dramatic entrance - put on sunglasses

Duckie says something hilarious - hold up your rubber duck and quack

The first time you realize Duckie is in love with Andie - break your heart glow stick

You see an outlandish hat - put on hat

Steff looks smug - look smugly around the room

Duckie is frustrated with Andie - roll your eyes

It’s Andie vs. the richies - throw Monopoly money in the air

You see a wacky car - send your race car zooming

Love is hard - hold up your heart glow stick

Andie and Jena are playing volleyball - toss a beach ball around the room

They’re in a library - look around in amazement at your surroundings

You see awkward eye contact - stick googly eyes on your rubber duckie and have it look awkwardly at its neighboring duckie

Duckie rings the fire alarm - ring bells

Duckie tells Andie’s dad he wants to marry her one day - get down on one knee

A tremendous display of Duckie affection - sigh dramatically

Duckie performs his dance to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” - get up and dance along

They go to prom - pin on your corsage

Andie and Blaine finally kiss - eat a Hershey’s kiss

Every time you feel like Andie should end up with Duckie - shake your fist


Activity Resources

Interactive Movie Instructions



Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians


Movie Licensing USA

Pretty in Pink Trivia

Pink Popcorn Recipe

Strawberry Cupcakes Recipe


Active Program 3

Coding Like Sanger



Inspired by Sanger’s love of coding, this activity will provide teens with an introduction to coding and a foundational job skill. Teens will use a tutorial from Hour of Code to create digital BFF cards.


Books to Display

Scratch 2.0 Programming for Teens by Jerry Lee Ford, Jr.

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs

Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math by Majed Marji

Learn to Program with Minecraft: Transform Your World With the Power of Python by Craig Richardson


Supply List

Computers or tablets with internet access


Detailed Description of Activity

Visit and watch the video tutorial about hosting your own Hour of Code program. Hour of Code offers a diverse range of tutorials to accommodate different technologies and the existing knowledge base of your teens. The Vidcode Digital Greeting Card is just one suggestion for hosting a Coding Like Sanger program.


Before the day of the program, go through it yourself so that you will be prepared to answer questions. You may wish to film an example video.


Have teens work in pairs or small groups to film the initial video sample. Give them the prompt of “BFF card,” like the one that Stevie and Sanger share, and let them creatively respond to that in video form. Teens may use their own smartphones, tablets or computers provided by the library to film their videos.


Watch the video introduction to this coding tutorial together at URL. Then, let the teens loose with the tutorial. They will get to play around until they have a finished product they LIKE. The possibilities for video making are numerous; you could use it to film a promotional video for the library, for example.


Suggested Tutorials (appropriate for grades 9+)

Text Compression

Vidcode: Bestie Greeting Card - could make this like the BFF card!

Vidcode: Code the News


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

Hour of Code

Girls Who Code

Jump in Head First and Start a Coding Club


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Passive Programs

Printable Copy of Program

Supplemental Documents

Entry Form

Activism Posters


Accepting Work

Identifying Numbers

Postcard Back

Postcard Front


Passive Program 1: Activism 101



Stevie Hart’s commitment to stopping corporate encroachment on her beloved Barton Springs pool makes activism a central component of Lucky Few. Stevie attends several rallies and gathers signatures for a petition to stop the building of a corporate office that would endanger the Barton Springs watershed. This activity encourages teens to consider their own causes and educate themselves on ways to get involved in leading change.


Books to Display

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Aliferenka and Martin Ganda

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect With Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change by Barbara A. Lewis

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai


Supply List

Static Display

Bulletin board or tri-fold poster board


8.5x11 white paper


Stapler or staple gun and staples and/or double sided tape

Bulletin board decorating materials such as borders, pre-cut letters, bright paper, etc.


Interactive Display

Small bulletin board, chalkboard, whiteboard, or tri-fold poster board

Appropriate writing utensils



Button machine and appropriate button making supplies


Hole punch consistent with button size or circle stencil and scissors

Colored pencils and/or markers



Detailed Description of Activity

This activity consists of two display areas and a button making station. A static display area highlights steps for becoming a successful activist and/or local ways to get involved. The interactive display asks teens about causes they believe in.


Decorate a bulletin board or tri-fold poster board with the headline “Activism 101” in a manner of your choosing. Surround with posters, included in the resources below, detailing the Anti-Defamation League’s Ten Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism. You may also include pictures and small blurbs about teen activists, as well as local ways to get involved. Use bright colors and whatever decorating materials you have on hand to make the display eye-catching and fun.


For the interactive display, decorate a bulletin board, chalkboard, whiteboard, or tri-fold poster board with the following quote from Lucky Few: “One can become an activist for various, complex reasons” (33). Underneath, write “What’s your cause?” Provide appropriate writing utensils for teens to decorate the display with their own answers.


Nearby, set up a button maker and several pre-cut cardstock circles to fit the buttons. Circles can be cut using a paper punch or a circle stencil and scissors. Provide colored pencils or markers and encourage teens to make buttons showcasing causes that are important to them.


Activity Resources

Posters 1-10


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

The Anti-Defamation League’s Ten Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism

Comprehensive resource for youth activists and the adults that support them

Resources for leading and encouraging youth activism

Resources for fostering teen activism

Button machines and supplies

More books about teen activism

Simple, easy-to-follow tool to make posters and other graphics



Passive Program 2: Clean Water Pledge



Stevie Hart cares about a few things: getting through high school, hanging with her best friend Sanger, and CLEAN WATER. Stevie’s commitment to keeping water clean in her city by protesting against corporate building on land that would threaten the integrity of her beloved Barton Springs Pool is inspiring. In this activity, teens will learn about steps they can take to keep the world’s water supply clean and safe and take a clean water pledge.


Books to Display

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

Hoot by Carl Hiassen

Your Water Footprint: the Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

47 Things You Can Do For the Environment by Lexi Petronis

We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change by Sally M. Walker


Supply List


8.5x11 white cardstock


Paper cutter or scissors

Colored pencils and/or markers


Tri-fold board or bulletin board


Detailed Description of Activity


In this activity, teens will color a bookmark that highlights the issue of clean water. On one side of the bookmark is a clean water pledge, which includes tips to protect the water supply and a place for teens to sign their name. The other side of the bookmark includes a blank doodle for teens to color in, personalizing their bookmark.


To make the bookmarks, print out the “Bookmark Front” and “Bookmark Back” files. You may choose to double-sided print both files on one piece of paper, or use a copy machine to make double-sided copies. Use a paper cutter or scissors to separate the bookmarks.


Set up a space, such as a small table, for teens to color in their bookmarks. Provide colored pencils, markers, or other drawing utensils.


To draw attention to this activity, supplement it with a tri-fold poster board or bulletin board displaying water conservation tips. Use a website such as to print water conservation infographics to be large and eye-catching. Alternatively, highlight local water sources and conservation projects.


Activity Resources

Clean Water Pledge Coloring Bookmarks



Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

Resource for finding local environmental conservation projects

Inspiration for Clean Water Pledge

Inspiration for Clean Water Pledge

More water conservation ideas

Clean water tips and eye-catching infographics

Simple, easy-to-follow tool to make posters and other graphics

Tool for enlarging images to print poster-size

Tool for researching local aquifers


Conquer Your Fear Art Contest



Artistic expression becomes an important force In Lucky Few. It becomes clear that Max takes on his bizarre photography challenge not purely for shock value, but because of a near death experience that left him terrified of his own mortality. The 23 fake deaths project becomes a way for Max to confront death head on. Max uses the artistic medium of photography to challenge, understand, and ultimately overcome his fear. Through an art contest, teens are challenged to confront their own fears and transform them into a creative act. This activity explores the process of making art as a therapeutic, transformational act.


Books to Display

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

Still Life With Tornado by A. S. King

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano

Young Man With Camera by Amil Sher

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick


Supply List

Bulletin Board

8.5x11 paper


Paper cutter or scissors

Butcher paper



Decorative letters, if desired


Contest Submissions

3-ring binder or envelope

8.5x11 paper




To Display Art

Wall space or bulletin board to display artworks

Push pins, nails, or removable hooks

Binder clips



Detailed Description of Activity

Teens will create original pieces that connect to the theme of conquering fear. All mediums are welcome. The artwork will then be displayed in the library.


To promote the contest, cover a bulletin board in butcher paper and write, in large script, “what would you try if you knew you could not fail?” Provide markers and encourage teens to write down their aspirations. Also include the contest information on the bulletin board.


Have a designated location for artwork drop-off. Keep track of entrant information in a binder or large envelope. Detailed instructions for accepting entries are outlined in the Activity Resources.


Display artwork on a large bulletin board, moveable panels, walls, or in a space that suits your library’s needs. A suggested method of hanging works is to attach a binder clip to 2D works, which can then be hung on a push-pin or nail without damaging the artwork. Sculptural works may be displayed on tables.


Assemble a panel of co-workers and/or teens to select Best in Show. Reward the winner with one of the below incentives, or a prize of your own choosing. Announce the winners on social media if you choose.



Art supply store gift card

Set of artist grade colored pencils, such as Prismacolor


Activity Resources

Entry form

Directions for accepting artwork

Identifying numbers

Promotional postcard


Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

Can be used to customize promotional poster, fliers, entry forms, etc.


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Created on Mar 7, 2017 | Last updated April 17, 2017