Slowpoke Discussion Guide

by Emily Smith Pearce
Illustrated by Scot Ritchie

About the book:
Fiona likes to take her time. She takes so much time that her toes wrinkle in the bathtub and her dog falls asleep waiting to be fed. When she misses the bus one time too many, her mom sends her to Speed School. Fiona learns to move so fast her head starts to spin. One day, while Fiona is eating doughnuts, listening to music, painting a picture, and dribbling a basketball all at the same time, her head spins so fast it gets stuck. Backward! There’s only one way to get life back to Fiona’s favorite pace—she must show her family that “slow doesn’t stink.”

About the author:
Emily Smith Pearce is a champion napper, is a fan of the Slow Food movement, traveling by foot, and the U.S. Postal Service. She grew up in South Carolina and holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.F.A. from Vermont College. She lives with her husband and their two children in Hannover, Germany. Her first book, a middle-grade novel entitled Isabel and the Miracle Baby, received considerable critical acclaim. Visit her online: and

About the illustrator:
Scot Ritchie is an award-winning illustrator who lives in Vancouver, Canada. He has illustrated forty-eight books, some of which he also wrote. His books have been translated into French, Korean, Indonesian, Polish, Finnish, and Dutch. Scot has worked with the National Film Board of Canada and has had his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada

Would you consider yourself a slowpoke or not? Why? Can anything be done with slowpokes or not?

Questions to consider:

  1. What are some of the effects of Fiona’s taking her time?
  2. Create a list of things that Fiona does slowly. Why do people care how long it takes her?
  3. Compare Fiona to her family. Is it better to be too fast or too slow? Why?
  4. Why does Fiona’s mom finally lose her temper over her pokiness? What would your mom do?
  5. What does Fiona learn in Speed School? Would you want to go there?
  6. How does she become more like her family?
  7. Do you like to do more than one thing at the same time or not? Why?
  8. List some of the problems with doing everything so fast.
  9. What happens to poor Fiona when she does everything too fast for too long?
  10. Describe Fiona’s slow school. What does she teach her family?
  11. In the end, how do each of them change? Is it for the better, or not?
  12. What do you notice if you go slowly?



Brainstorm a list of things to do- ordinary things and extraordinary ones. Then, sort the list into two piles. One pile for things that are best done fast, the other for things done slowly. Compare your list with a friend’s.

Vocabulary: Rate the following words by how well you know it.

New word: Never seen it before: I’ve heard or seen it:  I could use it in a sentence of my own:



Take a walk but go very slowly trying to notice everything you can (maybe even focus in on a single color). Then, draw a picture about something you saw on your walk.


Create a collage of pictures from magazines of things people should do fast on one side and slow on the other. Discuss your choices!


Write about a time you wanted the day to move really slowly so you could enjoy it (like a birthday, maybe). And write about another time when you wanted things to move faster.


Build a ramp and make predictions about which items will be the fastest down it! Compare your predictions with data using a timer. Here is a list of things you might try: golf ball, tennis ball, paperclip, ice cube, eraser, penny.


Sing to “Hickory Dickory Dock”

Hickory, Dickory, Dock!

Fiona hates the clock!

The clock strikes eight, she’s always late-

Hickory, Dickory, Dock!

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, an author and literacy specialist, created this guide.

3 thoughts on “Slowpoke Discussion Guide

  1. Pingback: Slowpoke | An Education in Books Blog

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