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Huggly’s Trip to the Beach

By Tedd Arnold, Scholastic


Huggly and his friends live in the monster world but sometimes their curiosity gets the better of them and the human world waits to be explored. Huggly leads his friends on a wild adventure above ground where they face foreign elevators, witness the world’s greatest “slime pit” and narrowly evade detection from humans all the way!

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

Huggly’s Trip to the Beach brings several philosophical questions to light. By addressing the aspects of Huggly’s leadership, the legitimacy of Huggly's authority, the morality of Huggly ignoring his friends, the curiosity that leads them to the surface or the deep connection to the monster’s home, the story acts as an amazing platform for discussion.

Throughout the story Huggly marks himself as the leader by making decisions for the group. Ranging from his decision to keep the group looking for "slime pits" (2) to his choice to use towels as disguises (17), it is clear that Huggly is in charge. His insight with the towels and curiosity that led them into the elevator may be reasons for why he always seems to take charge but this raises questions as to what aspects make him the leader. The qualities of leadership are not universal, many politicians have charismatically led entire countries but personally they have been very quiet spoken men. The traits they share are debatable and even then, what traits a leader requires are not set in stone. There are many ways to describe what leadership is, and what qualities a leaders should have or should exhibit- all of which are philosophically rich. The question set on "leadership" uses Huggly's example of leadership in order for students to examine their own definitions of what a leader is. By having people give examples, they relate it to the people they know and provide a broader range of traits for them to examine when considering the final question of what a leader is.

Another great way to expand on the discussion when talking about leadership would be to bring up how Huggly blatantly ignores Booter’s insight when it comes to pressing buttons(11) and when running towards a new monster on the beach(23). As a leader this is a critical decision because it makes us question his fairness and the legitimacy his leadership. The topic of whether we have any obligation to an unfair leader, or even a leader who makes decisions we do not agree with, is fused with philosophically charged issues. By addressing Huggly's apparent bossiness we are directing the students to think about why he is allowed to make all these decisions and, from this, question who has the right to grant authority. The question set on "authority" uses Huggly's arguably unfair leadership in order to encourage students to think of the value of authority and whether someone has the right to boss them around. The set concludes by addressing the controversial issue of who has the right to grant authority.

Huggly’s deaf ears toward Booter’s suggestions during the story raise the issue of ignoring someone. In many instances in the story Huggly goes racing off into dangerous situations while Booter tries to warn him of the danger. For some unknown reason Huggly chooses not to listen to Booter and this raises the philosophical issue of the value and nature of listening. By displaying a friendship between Huggly and Booter the story is challenging the necessity that friends listen to one another all the time. More importantly, the story depicts Huggly getting tossed around like a beach balloon (27) and almost swallowed by an elevator (12) because he did not listen to his friend’s warnings. By showing consequence for Huggly’s action the story displays the value of listening and the consequences of ignoring advice. Whether Huggly is wrong for ignoring Booter or simply wrong for ignoring advice from anyone is the philosophical distinction that the question set on "listening" is pursuing.

The fact that Huggly interacts with Grubble and Booter so frequently does not necessarily mean that they are friends. The book indirectly brings up this distinction between friendship and acquaintanceship by its assumption of the trios' relationship, combined with Huggly's poor treatment of Booter. The question set on "friendship" brings up these issues in order to discuss whether friendship is a matter of degree or kind. This is inquiring whether having a friend is a black and white distinction, or if there are varying degrees of friendship. The question set probes whether student's closest friends are different then the people they merely get along with, and progresses to question how we all define our friends. By forcing the class to think about who they call friends, as opposed to who we call peers, we are warming them up to think about the philosophical conundrum of what friendship really is.

The pursuit of the unknown is a significant theme in the story as well. It was curiosity that led Huggly and his friends to go the surface world(4), hop into the elevator(11) and leave the building (18) in order to find a way home. This scenario acts as a great starting point to discussing the nature of curiosity because it is such a strong motivation for the characters in the story. Curiosity is a powerful and contestable driving force because it is often such a subtle factor in our lives. The question set on "curiosity" encourages the students to test how we define curiosity using the characters examples and the character traits we associate with curiosity. The set concludes with the question of what spurs curiosity, a deeply controversial and contested topic amongst scholars.

The story ultimately concludes with the group heading on their way home. During their entire journey Huggly compared what he saw above ground to the slime pits of his home. Ranging from bathtubs(7) to the ocean(20) it is all evaluated against the "slime pits" of his home. This brings up the value and nature of the idea of a home. Individuals might have different criteria for how they classify their home or even how many homes they have. Discussing what makes their home different from a mere place to live aids the students to think of how they define their home, and what value it holds to them. If any of the students think that their home is just a place to live then expanding on the aspects, either in the individual or external factors, which make this the case will further assist in aiding students to discussing the philosophical nature of a home.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion


Huggly decides that the trio should disguise themselves as well as leading the group above ground.

  1. Is Huggly the group's leader? How do we know?
  2. What quality make Huggly the leader?
  3. Who do you know who is a leader?
  4. Why would you call them a leader?
  5. What is a leader?


Huggly makes all the decisions for the group and ignores Booter's insight.

  1. Who do you think was the boss in the story?
  2. Who made most of the decisions in the group?
  3. Is it alright that only one person (Huggly) made all of the decisions?
  4. Should we follow a leader we think is not fair?
  5. Who made Huggly the leader?
  6. Who can grant authority?


Huggly often ignores his friends suggestions and makes all the decisions.

  1. Does Huggly listen to Booter?
  2. Does Huggly ignoring Booter get him into trouble?
  3. What happens to Huggly when he ignores Booter?
  4. Have any of your friends ever ignored you?
  5. Have you ever given advice to your friend that has accidentally gotten them into trouble? Can anyone briefly share what happened?
  6. Is it ever alright to ignore someone?


Huggly often ignores his friends and gets them into trouble.

  1. Does Huggly ever get his friends into trouble?
  2. Huggly and his friends have very different interests. Do friends need anything in common in order to be friends?
  3. Is it alright for one friend to make all the decisions?
  4. Should we be friends with someone who gets us in trouble?
  5. What separates friends from peers?
  6. What is a friend?


Huggly's explorations get him into many adventures but also danger.

  1. Is Huggly curious?
  2. Are Huggly’s friends curious?
  3. Is everyone naturally curious?
  4. Does curiosity get Huggly and his friends into trouble?
  5. Does curiosity always get people in trouble?
  6. What makes someone more curious then someone else?
  7. What makes us curious?


Huggly and his friends always seem to compare their surroundings to their home

  1. Where is your home?
  2. Can you have more than one home?
  3. Is your home always where you were born, or where you family lives?
  4. Do you choose your home or is it a result of your life style?
  5. Does everyone have a home?
  6. What is a home?

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