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Clifford Is a Star

By Norman Bridewell, Scholastic

Summary

Clifford and Emily Elizabeth were best friends who did everything together. Clifford is given a chance by a man from Hollywood to become an actor. Clifford becomes very popular as a dynamic actor. He makes many friends and fans, lives in a large house, and has an extravagant diet. However after experiencing the negative effects of fame he changes his mind about being an actor and goes back to his life with Emily.

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

By Chuwa Joseph

Clifford Is a star is one of the important Children’s book because it has a large number of philosophical question such as: What is it to be a star? Which type of life style defines someone as a star? When does someone have a right to privacy?

The first set of questions explores the nature of being a star. These questions intend to enhance children in discussing the appearance of someone who is a star. The discussion follows from the part of the book where a man from Hollywood pointed out that Clifford can be a big star. The question here is “how can we identify people from their appearance?” It is important to discuss this topic because we have people who are stars or popular in different fields such as music, art and athletics. It can also be noted that people have difference appearance so how can we tell if someone is a star by just looking at them. At this point kids can be involved in pointing out different features of people that they consider them as stars. You can also ask children if they have been told of someone who is a star but they couldn’t recognize them before by just looking at their appearance. The important thing here is to get two sides, one agreeing and the other disagreeing that people who are stars have specific appearance, these two sides will help in building up into more philosophical discussion of how we can identify people from their appearance.

The second set of questions discusses characteristics of the life that someone who is a star lives. Philosophical question here is “which type of life defines someone as a star?” This is an important question to discuss because we live and observe many things about life styles and the way different celebrities interact with others. Referring from the book we can see that “Big stars live in big houses, eat fancy food, wear shiny things, immortalize their footprints in cement and have many fans” but not all people are driven by a materialistic type of life that comes with wealth and fame. We can discuss what it means to be a star and engage the kids on what type of life style makes someone look like a star.You can ask children if it is possible to be a star and live a normal life, this will help in creating two sides with one side reflecting Clifford life with Emily and the other side reflecting Clifford life in Hollywood. At this point you can discuss with children on what kind of life they would like to live if they were stars. Because Clifford had lots of fans, we can infer the importance of fans in making someone a big star “Is it possible to be star without fans?” This is a good question which will help in defining the importance of popularity in making someone a star and leads to even further discussion on the expectations that fans have of celebrities.

The third set of questions investigates the issue of privacy. Philosophical questions that can be discussed in this section is “when does someone have a right to privacy” and “how should someone react when their right is abused” It is important to discuss this topic with children because privacy is an important thing in life as people need time to be alone, gather their thoughts or simply have some rest. Certain situations can hinder a person from having this opportunity “Clifford wanted some peace and quiet but, he had to go to parties all the time” It’s evident that Clifford doesn’t like to go to parties all the time so why is it that he still goes? Why didn’t he tell his fans that he wants to have some privacy, why was he not willing to expose his feelings? It is important to discuss about exposing feelings because kids have a lot to say about their hidden feelings when they are mistreated. It is at this point you can discuss with kids how certain situations may pressure someone into not speaking when their rights are being abused.

The fourth set of questions discusses the meaning of friendship. Philosophical question that rises in this discussion is “what makes someone a best friend” This is considered philosophical important because several factors determine the degree of friendship among people. The idea of friendship also focuses on the extent and reasons to which we as individuals build relationships of ranging strength. Clifford and Emily are described as good friends because they play together, swim together and slide in the snow together, developing a theme of enjoying each other’s company. When Clifford takes the opportunity to act in movies filmed in Hollywood, the question which arises is “are they still best friends regardless of the new situation?” Clifford and Emily can no longer spend time together and this factor can potentially affect the strength of their friendship. The goal here is to discuss with the children the features of friendship and what distinguishes between being just regular or best friends. Discussion with kids can go further into discussing what changes in their relationship occur when Clifford and Emily are away from each other? There is also an important pointing arising when Clifford went back to Emily. The point here is 'does friendship vary in time from being best friend to a friend and back to the best friend?' Let the kids have a dynamic discussion on friendship and its variation while directing them in discussing what makes someone a best friend.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

Nature of being a star

One day, a man from Hollywood said, “This dog can be a big star”

  1. Does Clifford look as a star?
  2. What features define Clifford as star by just looking at him?
  3. Was a man from Hollywood right to point out that Clifford can be a star?
  4. Have you ever known star that doesn’t have the instant appearance of a star?
  5. Have you ever seen a person who is not a star but with star’s appearance?
  6. Is it possible to tell someone is a star by just looking at them?
  7. How can we tell someone is a star by just looking at them?
  8. How can someone’s identity determined from their appearance?

Characteristics of a star

Big stars live in big houses, eat fancy food, wear shiny things, have pretty pools, put their footprint on the cement and have many fancy.

  1. Which type of life is Clifford living in Hollywood?
  2. What makes him change his life?
  3. Was it important for him to live such kind of life in Hollywood?
  4. Do all stars live fabulous lives?
  5. Have you ever liked to live like Clifford? Why?
  6. To be star, do you have to have an extravagant life?
  7. Is it possible to be a star and live a normal life?
  8. Is popularity important for someone to be a star?
  9. Which type of life defines someone as a star?
  10. How can identity define someone’s life?

Popularity and private life

Clifford wanted some peace and quiet. But he had to go parties all the time

  1. Does Clifford want to go to the parties every time?
  2. Why doesn’t he tell his fans that he needs privacy?
  3. Do you think Clifford is in fear of losing his fans if he disappoints them?
  4. Have you ever had to do anything that you don’t like? Why did you do it?
  5. How did you feel when doing things that situations forced you into?
  6. What were your reactions after and before doing something that you weren’t willing to do?
  7. When does someone have a right to privacy?
  8. How should someone react when their right is abused?

Friendship

Clifford and Emily Elizabeth are best friends

  1. Was Clifford a best friend of Emily? Why?
  2. Clifford leaves Emily as he goes to Hollywood. Is he still Emily’s best friend?
  3. How about when Clifford leaves Hollywood and goes back to Emily, is he a best friend?
  4. Tell us about your best friend and why is your best friend different from other friends?
  5. Do you and your best friend do everything together?
  6. Is there any difference between you and your best friends? How?
  7. Would you trade your best friend for fame, money and popularity?
  8. Why does your difference still make you and your friend best friends?
  9. Are there any values either shared or different that can define friendship?
  10. What makes someone a best friend?

This book module deals with ethics, specifically friendship. You can buy this book on Amazon.

This website was developed with the assistance of the Squire Family Foundation.