Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt is a poignant story of survival and triumph. Middle schooler Doug has been dealt a raw hand by life—abusive father, dysfunctional family, poverty, a move to a new town, trouble fitting in, loneliness. But with the help of the town librarian and a rare copy of Audubon’s book of birds, he learns to cope and more.
One of the main charms of this novel is that it is organized around paintings from Audubon’s book. This item allows students to contemplate both the artwork and its connection to the plot, then provides an opportunity to extend the skills of careful observation and interpretation beyond the novel. In a world where visual literacy is increasingly important, these exercises will help students to hone their observational skills while deepening their appreciation of the novel, art, and birds.
This 20 page pdf file includes a color picture of each of the paintings referenced in the novel, laid out for students to fill in the information from the book: what Doug observes in each, and then how it is connected to the plot; answers are provided. Afterward, there are another seven Audubon pictures laid out in an observe/think/wonder format to be tackled individually or in groups, along with an essay prompt. Skills utilized and reinforced by these exercises include close reading, literary interpretation, visual interpretation, critical thinking, and effective, purposeful writing skills.
To be most effective, this item requires access to a color printer.