Winner of the 2002 Whitbread Children's Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
Those of you who have read Hilary McKay's earlier books, among which are The Exiles, Dog Friday,
and Dolphin Luck,
will happily welcome her new story, Saffy's Angel.
Whether you have read her work or not, you have a special treat in store in Saffy's Angel.
You'll meet the four Casson children, whose mother, Eve, a fine-arts painter, has given them the names of paint colors. Cadmium, called Caddy, is the eldest; then comes Saffron, known as Saffy; Indigo, the only boy; and Rose, the youngest. When Saffy discovers quite by accident that she has been adopted, she is deeply upset, though the others assure her it makes no difference at all. Saffy is the daughter of Eve's twin sister, who lived in Siena, Italy, and died in a car crash. Grandad brought Saffy, as a very small child, back from Siena.
At Grandad's death, he leaves something to each of the children. To Saffy, it is "her angel," although no one knows its identity. How Saffy discovers what her angel is, with the help of an energetic new friend, lies at the heart of this enchanting story. Unforgettable characters come alive in often deeply humorous and always absorbing events to make a book to be treasured for a long, long time.
Young Saffron, known as Saffy, discovers that she is adopted. So she sets out in search of all she remembers from her youth--a stone angel in a garden in Italy.
About the Author
Hilary McKay is the award-winning author of Binny for Short, which received four starred reviews, and six novels about the Casson family: Caddy’s World (which received three starred reviews), Saffy’s Angel (winner of the Whitbread Award, an ALA Notable Book, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book), Indigo’s Star (an ALA Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book), Permanent Rose, Caddy Ever After, and Forever Rose. She is also the author of Wishing for Tomorrow, the sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. Hilary lives with her family in Derbyshire, England. Visit her at HilaryMcKay.co.uk.
Reading Group Guide
About the Books
The Casson family -- four creative children, an absentminded mother, largely absent father, ragtag group of friends, ramshackle house, and large collection of guinea pigs -- is unlike any you've ever seen. Beginning with Saffy's Angel and continuing through Indigo's Star, Permanent Rose, Caddy Ever After and Forever Rose, Hilary McKay has chronicled the lives of this unique, mad, and utterly brilliant clan. Whether Indigo is dealing with bullies at school, Rose is stealing engagement rings, or Caddy is deciding whom she loves enough to marry, the Casson family is up to the challenge. Quirky, loving, and wise beyond their years, this British brood has advetures you won't want to miss.
About the Author
Hilary McKay is the award-winning author of many beloved novels, such as Saffy's Angel, which was the winner of the Whitbread Award, an ALA Notable Book, a Boston Globe - Horn Book Award Honor Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2002, as well as several picture books, including Was That Christmas?, illustrated by Amanda Harvey. Hilary lives with her family in Derbyshire, England.
- Where do the Casson children get their names? Do these names fit them? What do their names, and how they got them, tell us about the family in general?
- What do you think about Bill's and Eve's styles of parenting? In what ways are their styles similar, and in what ways are they different? Are they good parents? Do you think the four children would have turned out differently if they'd been brought up by a more traditional couple?
- In Saffy's Angel, why is it so important to Saffy that she find the memento from her grandfather? Does it matter that, in the end, it's her siblings who end up finding it?
- Does Saffy's status in the family change when she discovers the identity of her father? Why or why not? What prompted Saffy to look for her real father?
- Despite the family being so close-knit, both Saffy and Rose talk about feeling lonely. What is the reason that each of them feels lonely? How do they each deal with their loneliness?
- The Casson children have several friends -- Sarah, Tom, and David -- who come to be like members of the family. How did each of these friendships begin? Is this the "normal" way to become friends with someone? Do these strange beginnings affect the quality of the friendships?
- Why does Indigo become a target for the gang of bullies in Indigo's Star? How does his place in the group change when he becomes friends with Tom? What does Indigo have to do to stop being a victim to the gang?
- Why do Rose and Tom get along so well? Does their relationship affect how Tom relates to the rest of the family? How does his affection for Rose help him when there is a crisis in his own family?
- Indigo has a number of fears, including heights, Caddy's driving, and losing his sisters. How does he deal with his fears? Is he the only Casson child who is afraid of things? What are the others afraid of, and how do they deal with their fears?
- In Permanent Rose, why does Rose start shoplifting? Does she view this as a bad thing to do? How does she feel about the fact that David is the only person who figures out what she's doing?
- Discuss Rose's relationship with Bill. Is it different from the other characters' relationships with him? In what ways is Bill a disappointment to Rose, and in what ways is he just what she needs?
- The format of Caddy Ever After is different from the other books. Why do you think the author chose to write the book this way? How does it change the way you experience the story?
- Caddy goes through a lot of boyfriends and has trouble committing to Michael. Why is it so hard for her to think about being married to him? Why does she agree to marry Alex? Why doesn't she tell Michael about Buttercup?
- Why doesn't Rose read? Do you agree with Saffy and Sarah that it's important for her to start reading? Are there any similarities between Rose's reading problem and Caddy's difficulty with passing her exams?
- How does Rose's trip to the zoo in Forever Rose change her and the circumstances in her life? Is she happy with these changes? Do you think she should have been punished?
- Why is it so important to David that he be accepted by the Casson family? What makes it so difficult for this to happen?
- How does the artistic nature of the Casson family affect each of the children? What would their lives be like without art and music? How do the people around them feel about the creativity of the household?
- Bill, Eve, and Rose are all talented painters who find great joy in this form of artistic expression. Gather some supplies and paint something that you love -- your family, your pet, your favorite spot -- and see if you enjoy it.
- One night, Sarah and Saffy map out a route from England (where they live) to America (where Tom lives). See if you can plan a route from London to New York...one that does not involve an airplane.
- After years of raising hamsters and guinea pigs, Caddy devotes her adult life to working with animals. Find some place in your community -- an animal shelter, a zoo, an aquarium, etc. -- where you can volunteer with animals.
- Tom teaches Indigo how to play the guitar, and then David takes up the drums. Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument? Look into renting an instrument and taking lessons.
- Go to an art supply store and find a paint chart like the one that hangs in the Casson kitchen. Which colors do you think would make good names?
- The Casson family is very dramatic, and many interesting things go on in their home. Choose your favorite scene and act it out. Be as creative and dramatic as you can.
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