A Review in Elementary Comprehension Questions: Hannah McKinnon’s “Mystic Summer”

This school year is a little special. This is the last year of elementary school for this mom. Also for my younger daughter. And for me. But mostly it’s about her. That means that last night was my last elementary school curriculum night.


Now most of you know about my sweet little girl. She’s 11 (well, 12 in 25 days), in 5th grade, and she has Down syndrome. This year is awesome because she’s actually being challenged and pushed, spending more of her time in the general education class, with pull outs for math and reading.  I’m pleased as punch with her progress, so far.

Any way,  during the evening one of her teachers handed me a list of comprehension questions for books or movies, a great way to make sure she understands that stories are just more than just words and pictures.

I fell in love with the list.They are GREAT questions. I’m planning to use them regularly for her starting with some her favorite movies (mostly Disney products).

But I liked them for me, too.They are some really good general questions. And, because I love all books and all this blog and my kids, I decided to combine these loves and write a review based on these questions — which are geared towards elementary readers of fiction.

Comprehension Questions for Hannah McKinnon’s

Mystic Summer

Who is in the story? The main character is Maggie Griffin is an elementary school teacher.

Maggie’s childhood best friend Erika Crane (and current roommate in a great Boston apartment) — getting married in a perfectly planned summer wedding.

Maggie’s perfect boyfriend, Evan, is an actor.

And then there is Maggie’s high school boyfriend, Cameron.

Start at the beginning and tell me what happened in the story: (I’m not going to spoil it, don’t worry!) Maggie is pretty pleased with her life. She’s got a great job at a fancy private elementary school, and she’s got a great apartment with her BFF in Boston. Her relationship with her actor/boyfriend Evan seems to be going well.

But it’s not. Her job is in jeopardy due to budget cuts. Her roommate/ best friend Erika is getting married (which is great), meaning she has to give up her killer apartment, and she has no idea where she’s moving. Her perfect boyfriend is never around, but he wants to make relationship decisions for both of them, moving their relationship forward too quickly for Maggie.

When Erika’s wedding plans are messed up and a wedding back in their hometown of Mystic, Connecticut is the new plan, Maggie heads home to make it happen. Really, the wedding planning is a welcome distraction from her life!

Back in Mystic, Maggie is shocked to run into her high school flame, Cameron. Learning that he has moved back home with his baby daughter, she starts remembering everything she liked about him. But she has a boyfriend, and he has a baby (whose mother is somewhere . . .)

As the summer goes on, Maggie realizes that the changes in her life mean choices have to be made. The summer in Mystic gives her a chance to figure out if the life she’s living is really the life she wants.

Do you have any connections to the story? What are they? I think yes. Every story I read and enjoy has some sort of connection for me.

But also, I love Mystic. When I lived in New York, a drive up to Mystic and a visit to the Aquarium and (of course) Mystic Pizza was a must. It wasn’t too far, and it was quaint and cool.

And I also feel like I’ve been in Maggie’s shoes. Figuring out what you want in life is normal, and needs to be done every once and awhile. And learning that you just don’t have the time and energy (and money) to attempt to keep up with friends making more money than you is pretty normal, and I remember those days well (I lived in the Vail Valley in Colorado, and there were a lot of young adults there with rich parents and/or trust funds).

Does this story leave you with any questions? What are they? Well, a good ending always creates questions as to what happens next, but other that that, no.

Where and when does this story take place? The place in in the title: Mystic, Connecticut. It’s set in present day.

What’s the most important part of the story? What makes it important?  I could give you an exact moment, but that would spoil the story for you. But really, the book is about making choices in life, and figuring it out in your 20’s (you get to figure it out again and again, so if you don’t get it quite right in your 20’s, you’ll have another chance!)

Were you able to predict the ending of the story? Why? How? Pretty much, yes. It’s a light read; a rompy, chick-lit book. But just because the ending is predictable doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

How did the story end? Sorry, no spoilers.

Try to make an illustration of on event from the story. Well, here’s a drawing of the
Mystic sign, drawn like an elementary schooler–quick and dirty.


Did this story teach you a lesson?What it is? Sure. That Mystic is as beautiful as I remember it, and that home is the best place to be.

What do you think will happen next in the story? And they lived happily ever after . . .

Do you think the story really could have happened? Sure, this could happen.

Do you think this is a good title for this story? Why? Yes. Because it is a Mystic Summer

That’s it. There is one more question about my favorite illustration or picture, but there were none –so I didn’t have a favorite (unless you count my own drawing!)

beachreadThis was really fun –this questions gave me a lot of structure, and they’re very concrete questions.
Really quickly, my thoughts. I liked it. It was kind of predictable and very girly, but it was fun. If you’re lucky enough to hit the beach this Labor Day weekend, or even just your back deck or couch, this would be a great read for that last summer hurrah of 2016!

3.5 stars. Now THIS is a beach read.



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