Chapter 13: Johnny Dolphin

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Which Swedish word did Anna only know half of?
  2. Why did Anna avoid the children’s clothing store after that day?
  3. What did Anna’s second grade teacher refuse to do?
  4. Which holiday made Anna think back to her childhood and identity?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. When Anna learned what horabyxor meant, she was thoroughly embarrassed that she had gone around saying it. How would you have felt in her situation? Can you think of a similar situation from your own life?
  2. As a child in America, it was important to Anna and her brother to eat turkey on Thanksgiving so they could fit in. Thinking back to your own childhood, which things were important to you in this way? Did you have them or long for them?
  3. For the young Anna, the proper pronunciation of her name was very important. On the other hand, her brother became known as Johnny Dolphin. Why do you think that may have been? In general, how do you think our names affect/reflect our identity?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • This chapter introduces the shopping incident as “downright funny.” Why do you think it can be seen as humorous? What is it about embarrassment that can make us think back on it and laugh?
  • The description of Anna’s childhood begins because she is sitting on a subway feeling homesick. Which holidays are particularly important to you, if any? In what way(s)?
  • Are holidays and rituals important for maintaining a culture? How do we see this playing out in today’s global society?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“Now I was on a mission.” = Now I felt I had an important goal. (p. 131)

It was me against the horabyxor.” = It was like a sports game or a match to see who would win (p. 131)

“Life was rolling a hundred miles an hour.” = It seemed like life was going very fast (page 132)

“Are not!…Am so!” = This is how children argue. It means “You are not!” and “Yes, I am!” (p. 134)

“D’yous guys have turkey on Thanksgiving?” = This is Philadelphia dialect. She is making “you” plural by saying “yous.” It means “Did you have turkey…” (p. 136)

Language Focus:

Expressing Dialogs

Most of the time in this book, when a person speaks, the book uses the simple dialog tag, “said.” Sometimes, though, different tags are used. It is the author’s choice whether to use mostly “said” or use more expressive tags. The reason for using “said” is that most readers will read the word automatically, and it will not interrupt or interfere with their enjoyment of the story. One reason for using other words is to express something more specific.

Here are some examples of tags other than “said”:

“Are not!” he shouted. (p.134)

“Am so!” I insisted. (p. 134)

“Oh, come on, Mom. We have to have turkey and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving,” I whined. (p. 135)

“Guess what?” whispered Sinead as soon as Marie had left. (ch.12, p. 127)

Answers to Part 1

  1. Horabyxor. She knew that the second half meant “pants.”
  2. Because she was embarrassed. She had gone in and asked for whore-pants.
  3. She refused to pronounce Anna’s name correctly. She pronounced it with the vowel in “can” instead of rhyming with “Donna.”
  4. Thanksgiving Day

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