Sedgwick's seven short stories are tied together with common characters and common themes of love and sacrifice. Each story is written in present tense, drawing in the reader and keeping them in suspense until the final story is told and all the plots are woven together. Until the entire book is finished, some stories, and parts of stories, can be quite confusing. Though this is a short story collection, it's not an easy book to breeze through. Because of the imagery and how much thought it takes to put it all together, this book should be recommended to older teens or those at an advanced reading level.
1. Love. Write a love story, but don't be constrained by what is typically thought of as a love story. Write about familial love: that of a mother for her daughter, or between siblings. Write about platonic love one feels for friends and neighbors. Explore romantic love, or the love one feels for the gods of their religion.
2. Moons. Each story in the book is named after the type of moon that occurs during that time of year. Look up different moons and see what they represent. Pick one that inspires you and write a story about it, or set during that time of year, or make up a fable about how it got its name. Find moons by the month here.
Full Moon Names and Meanings. Moonconnection.com, 2015. Web. 1 Jul. 2015.
3. Reincarnation. Eric and Merle appear throughout the book as different people in different times. What do the teens at your library think of reincarnation? Do they feel like they've lived before? Have they ever gotten a sense of deja vu? Have them write a story about a character who is living a second or third life, or even an essay about what the teen might have been like in a previous life.
4. Historical Times. Piggy-backing off the idea of reincarnation is simply setting a story in a historical time. Teens can pick a time period, research it, and write as if they or their characters lived during that time, or they can create a mash-up. A mash-up is when two different genres are combined; for example, teens can write a romantic story or a science fiction story set in a historical time period.
5. Symbolism. Things aren't always what they seem! Midwinterblood has a lot of symbolism in every story, like the hares, the dragon orchids, the moons, the bonds of love, and more. Have teens write a story where symbolism plays a big part in the plot. Effective symbolism should add depth to stories, not just be extra elements included without reason.
6. Works of Art. Midwinterblood is based on a painting by Carl Larsson entitled "Midvinterblot". Show teens this painting so they can see how it relates to the book. Have them page through coffee table books of artwork until they find a piece that speaks to them. Have them write a story influenced by the art, or about how it was created, or about what is depicted in the art.
7. Sacrifice. This is a major theme in all seven stories. Have teens write about what they would sacrifice to save something, or what has been sacrificed for them. To further the Midwinterblood theme, challenge them to include characters they used in an earlier story, if they haven't been doing that all along.
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