The Farwalker’s Quest by Joni Sensel

Author’s Website: ****


1. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed multiple large-scale natural disasters – Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Haitian earthquake of 2010, and most recently, the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan. Pull up some Google images of these events’ aftermath, and study them for a moment. The new world created by these disasters bears some similarity to the post-apocalyptic world alluded to in Sensel’s book, as well as in other dytopian science-fiction reads. What are some of these parallels, in your opinion? An example might be the obliterating of most, if not all, forms of modern technology- cell phones, the Internet, etc.

2. If you had the opportunity to recreate an area of society for the better, what would you change, and why? How would you implement your changes? Can you see challenges or disadvantages to your plan, and how would you address them? Perhaps choose a specific area on which to focus, such as youth rights or disaster preparedness.

3. If you could belong to one of the thirteen trade guilds existing in Ariel and Zeke’s world- Farwalker, Tree-Singer, Windmaster, Flame-Mage, Healtouch, Allcraft, Finder, Judge, Fisher, Kincaller, Reaper, Storian, or Fool-, which guild do you think you would be chosen for at Namingfest? Why do you think this? Give specific examples. The trades in this list are arranged in order of importance, with the position with most prestige mentioned first. Why do you think some of the trades are more highly valued than others? How would you rank the trades?

4. Joni Sensel is quite a traveler and even documents her own “farwalking” adventure in England and France on her blog- ****. If you could travel to any modern-day country or area of the world, where would you go, and why? You can imagine your trip as though you are currently preparing to depart, or you can invent a fabricated travelogue of your experiences. Consider such questions as the following: how would you travel to your destination- by private jet, commercial airliner, boat, train, or on foot in true Farwalker style? What items would you deem essential for your trip- non-perishable foods, cash or a debit card, a cell phone and/or GPS, a tent, sunscreen, chlorine water purification tablets, great hiking boots? What would be the estimated total cost of your expedition? What perils could you face, and how would you be prepared to overcome them?

5. Are there any other dystopian science fiction novels or movies that Sensel’s book reminds you of? The Giver is a common comparison. Why do these books remind you of The Farwalker’s Quest?

6. If you could create a playlist of songs which represented the plot complications occurring throughout the length of Sensel’s story, what songs would you choose, and for what reasons? What mood do you think that each song captures, and how does this relate to unique plot points in the story?

Ways to Promote:

§ Hold a Namingfest activity, in which students draw their trade guild assignment from a bag or box. Encourage students to talk about why they are pleased with their assignment, or not.

§ Have students interested in art reinvent each of the trade guild symbols. They may be as simple and easy to replicate as Sensel’s version, or they may be highly complex and detailed. If students are stumped, allow them to look through books of hieroglyphics or Japanese calligraphy (also called “shodo”) to jumpstart their creativity.

§ A possible cooking tie-in for FACS classes can be found at ****, in which Sensel shares her recipe for flat apple pie, a portable food that Ariel, Zeke, and Scarl might have enjoyed had they known about it!