Student Guide

Student’s Guide

The Girl with 35 Names, DJ Colbert6th Grade

Lesson: Viewing Molly’s World

Chapter 2&3 “The Spectacles,” “Market Day”

Chapter 2 introduces us to author DJ Colbert’s use of a literary stylistic, the italics in the text connected with Molly’s thoughts. These are distinct, or different from the rest of the story, to show us what Molly is thinking. We can say they reveal to us her interior voice and perspective. Why might the author choose to use these?

Molly’s spectacles!

In this chapter, we first discover Molly’s spectacles. Can you describe them? How do they work? What do they reveal?

List in the space below adjectives, or describing words from your chapter, that give us a sense of the spectacles or their properties.

Character analysis

What does Molly feel about the spectacles? What does Moriah feel about the spectacles? Pay attention to language that reveals the characters’ interiority, or inner feelings and thoughts. Make a list here of some phrases that reveal what Molly and Moriah feel about them.



And now, pay attention to how characters appear when Molly views them through the spectacles. Can you find words in your chapters that describe the movement as well as colors connected with Ari and Moriah? List them here:.



Molly’s World of Color

(color circles by Claude Boutet, 1708)


Molly’s world is full of color, and her spectacles become magical lenses for showing her colors connected with different characters. Through reading their colors (the patterns, movement, and quality), Molly is able to learn information about different people she knows or meets along her journey.

Did you know?

Color is a way to describe an object based on the way that object reflects (throws back) or emits (makes) light.

Color theory is the science and art of using and mixing colors, and a color wheel is a circular chart that shows us the relationships between colors. Above is an example of an early color wheel, created in 1708. Are you surprised at how early artists and scientists worked on color wheels? Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci had already written about color and the way it works by 1490?! Below is a modern color wheel.

We call yellow, red, and blue primary colors. With these, plus black and white, you can mix any color you want.

Secondary colors are colors you create by mixing two primary colors. These are orange, green, and purple (violet).

Tertiary colors are made by mixing equal parts of one primary color and one secondary color. There are sixtertiary colors: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.

And complementary colors are opposite colors (if you look at the color wheel, you can see they are even opposite each other) which, when you mix them together, will give you the darkest possible version of those colors.

Mixing colors can look a lot like mathematics. Let’s try some “equations”!










What about:









Moriah has her own memories associated with the spectacles Molly has unearthed outside, the very spectacles that reveal so much color for Molly.

Read this passage aloud:

“Moriah stopped speaking for an instant as she suddenly recollected a vivid dark memory from a time long past when Grandmother Ethel had come to visit her and Ari shortly after their marriage. It had been a lovely spring day and she and Grandmother Ethel had been busy planting seedlings in the newly plowed earth of the garden. She remembered the sweet sounds of birds chirping in the sun-filled sky and then an abrupt and eerie silence as the birds stopped their song. Then came the roar of staccato blasts of rapid-fire gunshots that shattered the stillness all around them. She could hear just as loudly the terrified screams that seemed to come from everywhere at once. Moriah could almost feel again the firmness of her grandmother’s hand clasped tightly in hers as they began to run forward and away towards shelter. Her heart began to beat a little more rapidly as the memory of that horrible day returned with crystal clarity, reminding her in that moment of the instant that her grandmother’s spectacles were lost forever.”

This passage serves as a flashback into Moriah’s past memory. Describe in your own words what happens in Moriah’s flashback. What does it reveal to us? What language is used to signal to us that this is not a pleasant memory? What is the tone of these words and phrases?

A flashback is a scene in a film, novel, or other work set in an earlier time than the main story.

“A ribbon through time”

Moriah tells Molly, “Our traditions, our stories, our individual talents, and our connection to one another–it’s like a ribbon through time.” What is Moriah talking about here, what does this sentence mean? Can you think of other texts (novels, poems, plays) where lineage has been important to the story? (or even, as in the case of Moriah’s family, matrilineal lineage, which is something passed down from female to female.)

A lineage is something descended, or passed down, from an ancestor, or one’s ancestry

Now think about your own lineage. What wisdom, stories, advice has been passed down to you through your ancestors? Draw a picture or write a short story about your own lineage.

Thinking through the archive

An archive is a collection of historical documents or records that gives us information about a place or group of people. Take a look at some old images of spectacles from the archive.

(Hand-held spectacles, called ‘bow specs,’ popular in the years 1400-1600. “Wildunger Altar” detail by Conrad von Soest, circa 1403)

(Spectacles from the Middle Ages)

(Changing spectacle fashion over time)

Spectacles, or glasses for improving vision, are one of the most important inventions of the last 2000 years. Imagine our world without glasses! But where and how did they first develop?

While we are not entirely certain of the history of image magnification, the earliest spectacles resulted from the labor and passion of mathematicians, opticians, astronomers, clockmakers, glassmakers, monks, chemists, and jewelers. Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040AD) was an Arab mathematician and astronomer from what is present-day Iraq. He is considered the “father of modern optics” and his important work, the Book of Optics (written in 1011-1021) describes how vision occurs when light reflects off an object and then passes through the eye. A little later, the English Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon (1214-1294) wrote his science book Opus Majus in 1267, which observed that letters appeared larger and clearer when viewed through glass, and that this discovery could help those with poor eyesight. However, the first time spectacles were made for the general public was in 1286 in Pisa, Italy. These early glasses were constructed from two glass-blown magnifying glass pieces riveted together, or fastened with a metal pin, hence they were called ‘rivet spectacles.’

(This is the first known painting to depict spectacles. It is Tommaso da Modena’s portrait of a cardinal reading, dated 1352. The cardinal is wearing “rivet spectacles.”)

How do glasses work?

To see, light enters into our eye and the eye creates a message that is sent to our brain. The eye captures a kind of photograph, and the brain makes sense of it: sight! When we see clearly, it is because light enters into the eye and falls on a specific spot on the eyeball, called the retina. If the light doesn’t properly fall on this spot, then your vision will be blurry.

Maybe your eyeball is a bit long, though, and so the light cannot reach the retina.We call this “short-sighted,” which means seeing things far away is difficult for you. Or, maybe your eyeball is a bit short, in which case, you are “far-sighted,” and things close up look blurry.

Both short-sighted and far-sighted people can wear glasses, which will help bend and focus light coming in to the eyeball so that it falls onto the retina, and their vision appears clear again.

Here is a diagram of the human eye. Can you find the retina?

Your turn! Can you design your own spectacles?

How would they work? What properties would yours have? Would they be like Molly’s great-grandmother’s spectacles? Draw them here.

Can you think about their angles in mathematical terms? You can even try to construct a 3D (three dimensional) model of them out of art supplies, recycled trash (boxes, cartons, plastic containers, etc), or any other interesting materials you may have. Pay close attention to how they work and their function, or use.

I can…

  • ✓ I can refer to the text to support my thoughts and draw inferences about a story.
  • ✓ I can use details from the text to determine the theme or message of the story.
  • ✓ I can figure out the deeper meanings of words and phrases as they are used in a story.
  • ✓ I can think and talk about the effects that specific words have on the meaning or tone.
  • ✓ I can think and talk about how specific parts of a story fit into the overall text and contribute to the development of the theme, setting or plot.
  • ✓ I can explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
  • ✓ I can compare and contrast similar themes or topics in various fiction genres.
  • ✓ I can read and understand stories, dramas and poems at my grade level and above.