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While staying with her grandparents in the summer of 1962, ten-year-old Winna discovers a pair of magical spectacles that reveal both the friendly ghosts of her African American ancestors and a dangerous family curse.

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For Winna, learning more about her family’s history from her grandfather helps her break the curse that causes family members to die early of lung disease. Gathering family stories gives students an opportunity to hear eye-witness accounts of history and ask questions from people with first-hand knowledge of family events. And when family stories are shared, they help students to understand who they are, where they come from, and ideas of what they can achieve.

Have students come up with questions that they are interested in asking a family member. Give them some examples to get them started, such as “can you tell me about your mother, father, grandparents, cousins, etc., about places you used to live, about what school was like, things you cared about or people you cared for?”

Also give them options about how to present what they learn (create a book of family stories, make drawings or paintings, oral report, video or podcast). Help students understand that they only report information they and their families are comfortable having shared.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What does the word “speculation” mean? When Winna wears her great aunt’s glasses, what happens when she “speculates”?
  2. Do you think Winna makes the most of having magic spectacles? Is having this magic always helpful to her? Why or why not? How is learning about her family history from her grandfather’s stories helpful? What other help does she receive?
  3. What would you do if you had glasses like Winna’s? Would you use them? How would you use them?
  4. Given the book is historical fantasy, how did you decide what was history and what is fiction? How does fantasy work as a genre to explore serious historical subjects? What did you learn from the realistic setting?

Related Resources

Speculation Teacher’s Guide from Lee & Low
All Kinds of Ways to Play with Stories from NEA’s Read Across America
Connecting by Recalling & Retelling Family Stories from Smithsonian Learning Lab

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