A Year With Butch And Spike takes place over the course of a school year. But
that's not a plot. The plot to this story involves the Cootches' running battle with Mrs.
McNulty and how Jasper gets involved in it. Here is an opportunity to discuss the
difference between a plot and a series of scenes. You could also discuss whether or not
individual events, or scenes, in the book contribute to the actual story line.
Characters should be dynamic (or if they're not, there should be a good reason why
they're not). The three main characters in Butch and Spike definitely change as a
result of their experiences in sixth grade and an argument could be made that the three
secondary characters (Lyddy, Christine, and Donny) do also. So, talk about it.
Point of View:
Jasper Gordon is a first person narrator, so here is an opportunity to point out the
difference between first and third person point of view. When a first person narrator is
used in a book, readers can only find out about what the narrator knows. In Butch and
Spike, how do we readers find out about: Butch's and Spike's bad reputations? The
grades they received on their report cards? The fact that their fathers are twins and
Cootches, too? That Spike is 'at risk'?
The setting of a particular scene or event can tell us something about the characters
in the scene. Do the faded dictionaries, stiff, old National Geographics, and rigid
adherence to alphabetical order in Mrs. McNulty's classroom tell us something about her?
Does Mr. Gordon's yard tell us something about him? What about Jasper's bedroom? And
Spike's family room and bedroom?
Spike gives a metaphor lecture early in Butch and Spike. Younger kids usually
associate metaphors with flowery descriptions of things, but the last chapter of Butch
and Spike includes a metaphor that explains something about life. Point out to your
students that metaphors can do more than create pretty pictures.