The Girls

The Girls

The Girls

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By Amy Goldman Koss

A group of friends decides to ostracize Maya. Maya is shocked and has no clue what she could have done wrong. Neither do her friends because it’s Candace, the self-assured leader, who decides who’s in and who’s not. The story is told from several perspectives, creating a picture of social status and peer pressure among young people who are struggling to discover who they are, where they belong and what is right.

View lesson plan in PDF

WITS LEADS Connection: Did it work?

Learning Outcomes

    1. Select your province to see learning outcomes for this lesson.



Perspective Taking and Point of View

  1. Through the use of metaphors, each girl is compared to an animal. Are the attributes of these animals positive? Do you think the characters were comfortable with them? Use the descriptions below of the characters, their animal metaphors, their attributes (characteristics evident from descriptions in the novel) and implied attributes (characteristics evident from reading between and beyond the lines of the novel) to help guide the discussion:
  2. What prevented the girls from disagreeing?
  3. How important is it to belong to a group or clique even if it means you have to act differently than who you are?
  4. Why do you think the author chose to use a first person narrative to tell the story? Emphasizes the characters’ different perspectives and points of view.
  5. Can you think of a situation where you acted differently from the way you were feeling? Why did you choose to do this?

Did It Work?

  1. What did the girls do in response to the bullying?
  2. Why didn’t it work to stop the bullying?
  3. What else could they have done?
  4. There is a metaphor in the story comparing bullying to death on the gallows (hanging). Based on this metaphor, which character is the queen? The executioner? The cheerleader? The onlooker? The person dying? How do you feel about this comparison?


  1. You always have a choice about your friendships. Candace chose people to be in her clique, but was she a friend to them?
  2. Which girls demonstrated friendship? How?
  3. What are the characteristics of a good friend? Some that could be included are:
      • Shows kindness and respect
      • Sticks up for others
      • Tells the truth in a kind way
      • Keeps promises
      • Puts effort into a friendship
      • Accepts friends for who they are and does not try to change them
      • Is supportive when friends need help




    Sometimes characters in a story are animals. Often these animals are chosen because they represent certain human physical and emotional traits. For example, the fox is clever and sneaky. Brainstorm with students some other examples.The frog is ugly, the swan is beautiful.

      Also include negative connotations in the discussion, such as calling police “pigs.” What attributes are implied here? What about “people are sheep?”


      • Ask students to think about themselves and their own character, including physical and emotional traits.
      • Ask them to write down which animal would best reflect who they are, including the reasons why they selected that animal.
      • Have students share and discuss their responses with the class.



      In the novel, six perspectives or points of view are presented. Each chapter is narrated by a different character using the literary technique of first person narrative. Discuss with students different ways we can learn about the characters both by reading what is written and reading between and beyond the lines.


      • Ask students to develop a character sketch of each girl based on their thoughts, actions, what others say about them and any other information they are able to gather from reading what is written and reading between and beyond the lines.
      • Include the animal metaphor for each girl and its implication.



      • Distribute a copy of the Bully Circle Poster and a blue and red pencil crayon to each discussion group.
      • Ask students to use the blue pencil crayon to fill in the characters’ names beside the roles they played at the beginning of the story.
      • If students feel the characters changed their roles at the conclusion of the story, use the red pencil crayon to fill in the characters’ names beside their new role
      • Students should also support the change of role using evidence from the story.
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