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SEL with ALM: The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra

Posted by Anna-Lisa Mackey, PATHS Program CEO on Apr 3, 2023 7:03:00 PM
Anna-Lisa Mackey, PATHS Program CEO

The Trouble With Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra is a magical book distinguishing between fantasy and reality. It is the first book for this author, and she has a new book out called How to Heal a Gryphon. This author says she is interested in strong female characters, and her first book definitely ticks that box. She is also the co-chair of the non-profit, We Need Diverse Books mentorship program.


Luna is a 12-year-old girl recovering from a car accident with her father. She was badly burned in the accident, and her father is now in a wheelchair. Luna struggles to deal with new fears and self-perception and accept who she is now. These struggles are also reflected in the other characters in the story as Luna's parents go through a difficult time, and her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins struggle to come to terms with the changes in Luna and her father.

As Luna struggles to find answers to these challenges, she finds herself spending a lot of time alone, in the big tree branches outside her bedroom window, or expressing herself through her artistic skill. One day, a new family moves in next door, and Luna suspects there is something quite different about this family. Sure enough, there is! The family business is caretakers of the moon and stars! Luna gains their trust and acceptance and joins them on several of their work trips to clean the moon, collect stardust and take care of some baby stars. During one of these trips, Luna gets the idea that if she could just catch a shooting star, she might be able to persuade it to grant her wish to go back and erase the accident. The SEL themes to draw out are dealing with difficult emotions like fear, anger, resentment, sadness, and loss, friendship and accepting compassion and help, and finding the courage to accept the circumstances and move forward.

Our interesting fact for this novel is about the celestial bodies in our own solar system. There are more than 200 moons in our solar system. Did you know that two planets do not have any moons? Neither Mercury of Venus have a moon. Mars has two moons, Jupiter has 80 moons, Saturn has 83 moons, Uranus has 27 moons, and Neptune has 14. Earth has the fewest moons of the mooned planets, with only one. 

Socratic Seminar Questionsalm-trouble-with-shooting-stars-1

Chapter 1

  • Luna says that "It's easier being yourself at night." p. 1. What do you think she means by that? Do you agree with her?
  • She also says, "People usually dislike anything that's not normal." p. 2. Do you agree with this? Why do you think that might be?
  • Luna describes her family as "rough and tumble - made of tough stuff" p. 2 What do you think she means? How would you describe your family?
  • Why does Luna spend so much time in her tree? What is the feeling you think she might experience there?
  • Luna watches a neighbor girl sneak out of her house and leave with someone who picked her up in a car. Luna says that it's "not fair" and that she's jealous of the girl (p.5) Why? When have you experienced feeling jealous?
  • Luna mentions several times that she is having difficulty sleeping. Why do you think she's struggling to sleep? What does that feel like when you've not slept well? How does it affect how you feel emotionally? Physically?
  • Luna describes a new family moving in next door in the middle of the night. She also describes some magical unpacking of these new neighbors. Does Luna really see this happening, or does she imagine it? Luna's mother thinks that she has fallen asleep and dreamed it. Do you agree?
  • Luna's mother says she should not be spying on the neighbors as that is an invasion of privacy. Do you agree? Is it wrong for Luna to be watching the neighbors the way that she does?

lessons that connect to the SEL themes in this book

Grade 6, Unit 1
  • Lesson 2: Understanding and building self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Lesson 5: Pressure and stress
  • Lesson 11: Values
Grade 6, Unit 2
  • Lesson 1: Self-perception
  • Lesson 2: Optimism
  • Lesson 3: Grief
  • Lesson 4: Identity
  • Lesson 9: Making and maintaining friendships
Grade 6, Unit 3 
  • Lesson 1: Resilience
  • Lesson 3: Fear Less
  • Lesson 4: Reaching out for resources
  • Lesson 12: Perseverance and hope
Grade 7, Unit 1
  • Lesson 4: Confidence
  • Lesson 9: Stress
  • Lesson 10: Healthy Choices
  • Lesson 11: Conflict
  • Lesson 12: Self-perception
Grade 7, Unit 2
  • Lesson 5: Fear
  • Lesson 7: Overcoming obstacles
  • Lesson 10: Perspective
Grade 7, Unit 3
  • Lesson 1: Dealing with disappointment
  • Lesson 2: Stress reduction
  • Lesson 6: Relationships
  • Lesson 7: Resilience
Grade 8, Unit 1
  • Lesson 6: Community support
  • Lesson 7: Belonging and Rejection
  • Lesson 12: Kindness and compassion
Grade 8, Unit 2
  • Lesson 7 Perspective taking
  • Lesson 8 Relationships
  • Lesson 9 Conflict
  • Lesson 12 Loss
Grade 8, Unit 3 
  • Lesson 2: Happiness
  • Lesson 3: Healthy relationships
  • Lesson 12: Transition

For the full Socratic Seminar for this novel and full lesson plans for the topics listed, please visit our website for more details on how to get Emozi® Middle School for your classroom!

Dive deeper into SEL for adults and students in my new book, The Social Emotional Classroom: A New Way to Nurture Students and Understand the Brain.

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Topics: middle school, Emozi® Middle School, Anna-Lisa Mackey, M.Ed., SEL and Literature, Socratic Seminar