Literary Guide for David Wiesner’s June 29, 1999

Literary Guide for David Wiesner’s June 29, 1999

Literary Guide for David Wiesner’s June 29, 1999

Though set in the now somewhat distant past, David Weisner’s cleverly written June 29, 1999 is part fantasy, part scientific study – pulling readers into a world where science and the (nearly) impossible intersect.

The date is May 11th, 1999, and young scientist Holly Evans has just begun her first major experiment. Holly has released vegetable seedlings into the earth’s atmosphere in hopes of studying the effects that outer space will have on the growth of her tiny plants. She shares her work with her classmates who are, understandably, quite speechless. Weeks go by without much excitement; Holly tracks the days and, we can assume, waits patiently for her seedlings to return. Finally, on June 29th, something exciting happens – the event lending itself as the story’s namesake.

At first, Holly thinks that June 29th’s mysterious events are the result of her experiment, but after close consideration of all of the information available to her, she deduces that the day’s events are not, in fact, her own doing. Rather, June 29th’s excitement – and the surprises that follow – are the result of unfortunate and surprising coincidence that even the most astute and creative of readers will never guess.

The story easily stands on its own as an engaging anytime read, but its theme and structure lend themselves nicely to extended learning. The book’s scientific focus makes it ideal for use with children who are learning to understand and practice the scientific method. Similarly, Holly’s experiment with seedlings makes the book quite useful alongside home gardening projects or scientific studies of seeds and plant growth.

Though the story includes some large vocabulary words (mostly in the form of vegetable varieties and locations), it is accessible to readers of all ages. The story’s simplicity makes it great for young readers, while the complex and detailed illustrations that it is paired with draw in older readers and add depth to the story.

Families can use our literary guide’s critical thinking questions in order to support comprehension and to dig deep into the text and its accompanying detailed illustrations. Additionally, a mini-lesson and a host of ideas for extension activities support use of the book as a catalyst for scientific learning – especially for the practice of the scientific method and structured experimentation.

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