Call Me Amy
A fun, lyrical novel about love, loss, and the ties that unite us.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing. For readers aged 9 — 14. Published by Luminis Books, 2013.
(Discussion Guide follows the reviews.)
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” —Kirkus
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—Publishers Weekly
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” —Booklist
“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—Midwest Book Review
“This character-driven novel is told from Amy’s point of view. The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” —School Library Journal
“Infused with a strong sense of place, this 1970s-set novel…will have appeal for Amy’s fellow animal lovers.”—Horn Book Guide Reviews
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —Feathered Quill
“Every once in a while, a book comes along that you just can’t put down. This book draws you in so deeply, you just have to keep reading. Set in the 1970s, it is a heartwarming story of friendship and coming of age. The story is well-developed and has enough twists and turns to keep even a reluctant reader interested.” —Library Media Connection
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KidsBookShelf
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BookViews.com
“A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together.” –Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
“In a small town in Maine in the 1970’s, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy’s discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage.” –Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” —Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
“I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again.” –Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
Questions to Talk About
1. In the opening chapters, how and why does Amy want her life to be different? What stands in her way?
2. What two words would you use to describe each of the main characters in Call Me Amy?
3. Would you like to have a friend like Amy? Why?
4. How does Amy’s confidence grow throughout the book?
5. Why do you think Craig and Amy get along so well?
6. What technology do we have now, that Amy didn’t have in 1973?
7. Why is Miss Cogshell’s house so important to Amy?
8. What is your favorite type of cookies?
9. Have you heard any of the songs Amy likes to listen to?
10. Do you think Amy, Craig, and Miss Cogshell were right to hide Pup?
11. Have you ever had to say goodbye to a pet?
12. Amy and Craig like to sit on the pier. Where is your favorite place to hang out?
13. Would you like to live in a little fishing village like Port Wells?
14. Do you ever get nervous talking in front of your class?
15. What tricks do you think would help you give a speech?
16. What role does the ocean play in CALL ME AMY?
17. What do you think will happen after the story ends?