Quicksand Pond

Quicksand Pond

For Ages: 10 - 99
Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle’s “striking, enigmatic, and haunting” (Booklist, starred review) novel about a pivotal summer in two girls’ lives explores the convictions we form, the judgments we make, and the values we hold.

The pond is called Quicksand Pond.

It’s a shadowy, hidden place, full of chirping, shrieking, croaking life. It’s where, legend has it, people disappear. It’s where scrappy Terri Carr lives with her no-good family. And it’s where twelve-year-old Jessie Kettel is reluctantly spending her summer vacation.

Jessie meets Terri on a raft out in the water, and the two become fast friends. On Quicksand Pond, Jessie and Terri can be lost to the outside world—lost until they want to be found. But a tragedy that occurred many decades ago has had lingering effects on this sleepy town, and especially on Terri Carr. And the more Jessie learns, the more she begins to question her new friendship—and herself.
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481472227 | 
  • May 2017 | 
  • Grades 5 and up
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Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Quicksand Pond

By Janet Taylor Lisle

About the Book

When twelve-year-old Jessie and her family arrive at a rented cottage for a New England beach vacation, Jessie is immediately drawn to the freshwater pond nearby—Quicksand Pond—and not to the beach. An old raft and a new friend lead to happy times floating among the reeds, yet shadows from the past are lurking behind the bushes far up onshore.

A crime from long ago still affects the local community, and trouble starts to suck Jessie down into the mire of deceit and prejudice. What happens to Jessie is a turning point in her life, leading to a summer vacation like no other.

Discussion Questions

1. At the end of the introduction when Terri tells Jessie that she had been watching her and her family, what did you think would happen next? What was the mood or tone of the story at that point?

2. When Jessie first sees the pond, why do you think she feels perfectly happy? Why had she not been feeling happy before this point?

3. Henrietta says that it takes “lightness in both body and mind” to ride a raft. What does she mean by that?

4. How is Henrietta’s mind described? Why is that important to the story?

5. What are the different points of view that the author uses to tell the story? How do these multiple perspectives affect the structure of the sto see more

More Books from this Author

Afternoon of the Elves
The Crying Rocks
Sirens and Spies
The Art of Keeping Cool

About the Author

Janet Taylor Lisle
Photo Credit: Alison Taggart Barone

Janet Taylor Lisle

Janet Taylor Lisle’s books for young readers have received the Newbery Honor Award (Afternoon of the Elves), the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction (The Art of Keeping Cool), Holland’s Zilveren Griffel, and Italy’s Premio Andersen Award, among other honors. A graduate of Smith College and former journalist, Janet lives in Rhode Island and often draws on Rhode Island history in her work. Visit her online at JanetTaylorLisle.com.

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