Carolyn Wilhelm reviews Carnival Lights

Title: Carnival Lights
By: Chris Stark
Publisher: Modern History Press
Author Website: https://www.christinestark.com/
ISBN-10: 1615995781
ISBN-13: 978-1615995783
Price: Hardcover $37.95, Paperback $24.95, Kindle $6.95
Page Count: 268
Formats (HC, PB, Kindle)
 
With good reason, two teens run away from a reservation and get jobs at the Minnesota State Fair. Although the book has a linear story within the pages, it also has a spiraling story going back generations explaining how families pass down their problems. Society also hands down its ills, of course.

“The grief of her people lived within her and was a way of knowing, with or without her conscious understanding.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 221). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

What a read! Oh, my. This book hit me especially hard being a resident of northern Minnesota as well as Minneapolis. I walked exactly where the girls walked, went to the fair, and understand 1969 – the setting of the book. I was about their age in 1969. Of course, I was aware of the poverty in the Native American reservations. However, we attended Pow Wows and visited some people, so that I was unaware of the danger to women and children. I have been to Duluth dozens of times and cannot again pass through there looking at the ships with ignorance. We lived in Grand Marais on Lake Superior and I knew there was trafficking, but thought it was all at the border for some reason. 

10 Discussion Questions for Carnival Lights

 
1. How does Stark set up the first chapters so we are convinced Sher and Kris had no choice but to run away? What are several of the convincing reasons provided? 
 
2. Did you expect the girls would get to the fair rather quickly and experience problems there? What surprised you about the book with generational stories interwoven with the experience of the girls’ bus trip and arrival in Minneapolis?
 
3. Why did the girls spend several days in downtown Minneapolis? Who did Sher call, thinking they might find help? How did they get food? The Vietnam war protest added drama as well as helped explain the times. How was Kris always going ahead and doing things while Sher wanted to hold back?
 
4. How do they meet Tricia? Why does she say the following:

“Get this,” the woman said, “a couple of farm girls showing me the city.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 118). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

5. Why do they decide or were told to leave several of the places they briefly stayed? What was the one place they wanted to stay? Why?

6. When in Minneapolis, Stark again sets up the reasons why the girls do not try to find help. Why would they not reach out to a social worker? Why do you think the church where they sat on the steps asked them to leave, probably knowing they were in trouble? 

7. How does the author explain most of Sher’s family acceptance and knowledge of her as contrasted with what her mother thought:

“Sher’s mother had admonished Sher for her broad shoulders, her narrow hips, and wearing her brother’s hand-me-downs, as if these oddities sprang from Sher alone, and did not come from the loins of her parents, from her family, from the Creator.”
Stark, Chris. Carnival Lights (p. 195). Modern History Press. Kindle Edition.

8. Were you expecting Sher and Kris would meet different people and find different problems than they did? How were the things that happened to them in Minneapolis worse or better than what you thought? 

9. Why do you think they didn’t go home but remembered the good people and things that happened? Their memories helped them cope. Could they have gone home? 

10. The foreshadowing of the ending strongly suggested something terrible would happen. Did you expect what happened or not? How did close calls to people who seemed to think about helping them add to the plot’s tension? How was the ending both happy and sad? 

Why do you think Stark wrote this book? What was the overall message? 

Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
BS Elementary Education, MS Gifted Education, MA K-12 Curriculum and Instruction
Wise Owl Factory LLC

The SideRoad Kids

SKU 978-1-61599-603-2
$16.95
Tales from Chippewa County
In stock
1
Product Details

The SideRoad Kids follows a group of boys and girls as they enter the sixth grade in a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula during 1957 - 58. This meandering collection of loosely-connected short stories is often humorous, poignant, and sometimes mysterious. Laugh as the kids argue over Halloween treats handed out in Brimley. Recall Dorothy's Hamburgers in Sault Ste. Marie. Follow a Sugar Island snowshoe trail as the kids look for Christmas trees. Wonder what strange blue smoke at Dollar Settlement signifies. Discover the magic hidden in April snowflakes. Although told by the kids, adults will remember their own childhood as they read about Flint, Candy, Squeaky, Katie, and their friends.

"Katie, Blew, Squeaky, and Daisy grew up on farms instead of high rises and used their imagination instead of fancy gadgets to make their own fun. An entertaining read for youngsters. And parents, you might enjoy a nostalgic flashback as well. I know I did." --Allia Zobel-Nolan, author of Cat Confessions

"The stories in The SideRoad Kids are often humorous. However, underlying them is a sensitive awareness that being a kid, rural or urban, then or now, is not easy. This is an enjoyable read that will enlighten today's kids about the past and rekindle memories for older readers." --Jon Stott, author of Paul Bunyan in Michigan

"Sharon's stories capture the essence of childhood and growing up in a small community. The antics of The SideRoad Kids will keep you entertained and take you back to a simpler time." --Renee Glass, Senior Production Artist, Mackinac Journal

"Sharon Kennedy is an amazing writer who draws you into the lives of her characters and keeps everything relatable. She makes you laugh, makes you think, and makes you want to keep reading. The SideRoad Kids is an entertaining book about a group of children growing up in Northern Michigan." --Kortny Hahn, Senior Staff Writer, Cheboygan Daily Tribune

Learn more at www.AuthorSharonKennedy.com

From Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com

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