Blessings of Mossy Creek Readers' Guide

1. In Harry's Unexpected Blessing, roses are a metaphor for love and hope. Discuss the symbolism of this very old and very traditional flower. What do roses mean to you?

2. Argelia Rodriguez, Mossy Creek's dance teacher, is of Latin heritage but, contrary to popular belief, doesn't know how to tango. What is it that makes the classic Latin dances (the tango, the rumba, etc.) so sensual, and so much fun?

3.Young John Wesley McCready, who learns a valuable lesson about good deeds and kindness, typifies the fresh perspective of child characters in literature. Discuss the appeal of these pint-sized narrators in your favorite books, such as Huck Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Little House On The Prairie novels.

4. In "Home Is Where The Sword Is" pub owner Michael Conners tiptoes around the delicate issue of male-female friendships. Do you believe men and women can really be "just friends?"

5. Sugar Milford discovers unexpected blessings in the form of a small goat named Missy Belle. From the funny (Garfield) to the sublime (Seabiscuit) animal characters enliven our favorite novels. What is it about pets that brings out the best in us?

6. Trisha Peavy Cecil is confronted with an all-too-recognizable problem of small town social life: For good and for bad, everyone knows your business. Is this a blessing or a curse? And can't small town people be just as lonely -- and just as mysterious -- as those of a big city?

7. Most of us have fond memories of belonging to funny, harmless "girls' clubs," engaging in silly escapades and innocent capers. Is this a rite of passage in childhood?

8. To children, religion is both a complex mystery and a simple value system. Do you think children benefit from exposure to differing beliefs, or is it better to give them a solid foundation before they begin to explore other ideas of faith and redemption?

9. Childhood can seem like the loneliest time in our lives. Often, children who feel isolated simply don't possess the social skills to reach out to others. Also, children tend to believe their problems and humiliations are strange and unique. How can we use books to connect with a child who needs reassurance and a sense of community?

10. Reverend Mark Phillips, new minister of Mossy Creek Mt. Gilead Methodist, follows in the footsteps of fictional ministers, priests, and rabbis who have delighted readers in many classic books and stories. What is it about the clergy that makes them such a fertile source for great reading?

11. Casey and Hank Blackshear travel to China to adopt a baby girl. In today's world, most of us know someone who's welcomed a foreign-born child into their home. Given the diversity of American backgrounds and the "melting pot" effect, do you see new trends in fiction? Have you been enlightened about other cultures by reading novels about them?

12. Younger men and older women. The topic is surfacing more often than ever, as sassy baby-boomer women defy stereotypes and pursue younger men without embarrassment. And the younger men pursue them in return! Amos and Ida are a perfect example of the sexy friendships that exist in the real world. Do you approve? Do you believe it's possible for women to form the same kind of viable relationships with younger men that men routinely form with younger women?

13. Blessings. We use the word to encompass a broad range of gratitudes, some profound and religious, others simple and worldly. Like prayer, meditation, and other forms of spiritually connecting to God, "counting your blessings" is an uplifting ritual that restores perspective in a chaotic world. How often do you count your blessings, and do you believe in the power of recognizing them every day?