The Great Good Summer

The Great Good Summer

For Ages: 8 - 12
  • 4
Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too.

Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground.

Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida—to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.
  • Beach Lane Books | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481411479 | 
  • May 2015 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7 | 
  • Lexile ® 870L
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Great Good Summer

By Liz Garton Scanlon


Discussion Questions

1. Examine Ivy’s motto that “every good day starts with an idea.” What does this mean? Why is it so important to her? What was Mama’s reaction to hearing Ivy’s motto? Does her response suggest Mama’s general perspective on life?

2. Why does Ivy’s mom run away with Hallelujah Dave? How does her absence affect Ivy and her father?

3. Compare Mama with Mrs. Murray. How are they different? Similar?

4. Explain what Ivy’s dad meant when he said, “Church folks understand other church folks.” Do church folks share common beliefs and ideas? How so? Since Mama is a member of the church, why are her actions misunderstood by everyone there?

5. Ivy says that her parents didn’t give her a middle name because they wanted to “leave room for God.” What does this mean?

6. Paul is interested in science, and even wants to be an astronaut. Consider how scientific reasoning affects Paul’s faith in God.

7. Explore the symbolism of the bus driver named Magdalena. Note that a woman named Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. Discuss other aspects of faith, mystery, and spirituality that serve as ties binding Ivy’s story together.

8. Is Paul and Ivy’s trip t see more

More Books from this Author

All the World
In the Canyon
Happy Birthday, Bunny!
Noodle & Lou

About the Author

Liz Garton Scanlon
Photograph © Sarah Bork Hamilton

Liz Garton Scanlon

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous celebrated picture books, including One Dark Bird; In the CanyonHappy Birthday, Bunny!; and the Caldecott Honor recipient All the World. Liz is an adjunct professor of creative writing at Austin Community College, and her poetry has been published widely in literary journals. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas. Visit her at