Sarah Books Study Guide

Teacher’s Guide

By Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
For the books:

Starting School with an Enemy

Sarah and the Naked Truth

 by Elisa Carbone

Multiple Intelligence Projects:

Multiple Intelligence theory is based of the work of Howard Gardner atHarvard. The thrust of his research shows that people have a variety ofintelligence styles, not just the two that schools focus on (math/language) andthat many students can reach higher degrees of success when they are allowedto use the intelligence styles in which they excel to show what they've learned.

Verbal/ Linguistic

In both Starting School with an Enemy and Sarah and the Naked Truth, Sarah and her friends deal with kids making fun of them. Write a letter to someone who made fun of you. BUT, don’t give it to them. Just write down all the things you feel, what you wish you had said, what you hope they would learn. Let it all out! Then, shred the evidence and toss out all those bad feelings with it!

Logical/ Mathematical

Compare Starting School with an Enemy to Sarah and the Naked Truth using a Venn diagram. List ways that the two books are similar and how they are different. (hint: consider: characters, plot, theme, setting, and endings).

Visual/ Spatial

Choose your favorite scene from either book, then make a new book jacket for the book. You can use whatever art supplies you want (crayons, markers, paint, even collage) but be sure to have all the important information included. Don’t forget to add jacket copy (which briefly tells what the story is about… in your own words) and get a few quotes from classmates to put on the back of the jacket too.


Soccer and basketball both play prominent roles in each book. Play each game with a group of friends (or with your entire class!) and then write about which one you prefer and why. As a group discuss what types of skills are needed for each sport, and talk about ways outside of playing the game that you could get better. (For example, being a long distance runner would help for the stamina needed in either game).

Musical/ Rhythmic

In the Sarah and the Naked Truth the girls go camping. What types of environmental sounds might they hear? What about when they’re at the ocean in both Starting School with an Enemy and Sarah and the Naked Truth? In pairs, take a tape recorder and document the natural (and maybe unnatural) sounds around your school or home.


As a class, discuss ways that teasing and bullies can be dealt with. With the help of a teacher, create an action plan that students should follow if they are being picked on. Then, see if Sarah and her friends followed one similar to yours.


When someone is being picked on, or someone is just being rude, it can be a good idea for a person to escape within their own imagination so they don’t lash out and get in trouble too. Pretend that you’re on the school bus, and some older boys in the back are saying nasty things about you. Pretend you slouch down in the seat and then start daydreaming about being somewhere else. Where would you go? What would you be doing? What does it look like, smell like, sound like? Then, on a small index card, draw a picture of your special place. Keep it in your book bag or backpack or purse and pull it out if you need it! 

Prediction guides:

Starting School with an Enemy


  1. What is an enemy? How do you think the main character got one?
  2. What could happen when you start school with an enemy?
  3. What’s it like to move away?


  1. Will Sarah keep getting in trouble over Eric?
  2. Will Christina still be her friend when she finally gets out of trouble?
  3. Will things only get worse between Eric and Sarah?
  4. Who do you think will help her most?
  5. Will Eric ever get caught for all his troublemaking? 

Sarah and The Naked Truth


  1. Have you ever heard the phrase “the naked truth” before? What do you think it means?


  1. Why is Olivia so moody at first?
  2. Will Olivia tell everyone at school about her secret?
  3. When will Sarah tell the basketball team about her truth?
  4. How will Christina get Mrs. Green to listen to her?
  5. How will the girls get Roger and Eric to leave them alone for good?
  6. Will Doug still be Sarah’s friend when he finds out about her?

Comprehension Guide/ quiz questions

All number 1’s are for Starting School with an Enemy, and #2’s are for Sarah and the Naked Truth.


  1. Tell in your own words what happens between Sarah and Eric.
  2. Why is Olivia so afraid of the truth?


  1. Describe, in your own words, what Jerod teaches Sarah about the pillow and the basketball, and how that can help her with Eric.
  2. Retell the events that lead up to Sarah revealing her true identity on the basketball team.


  1. What would you have done in Sarah’s shoes after Eric teased her, saying she’d had an accident in her pants?
  2. How was Mrs. Green wrong? Is there any other way the girls could have gotten her to change her mind?


  1. Sarah makes a major change in the way she decides to deal with Eric. What was that pivotal moment where she decides to change her own actions?
  2. If Sarah’s parents had signed the permission slip, do you think she would have told the team about her real identity?


  1. How would you deal with Eric?
  2. Eric and Roger believe they caused Olivia’s leg to be injured. How do you think they’ll act in the future? Will it change them? Why or why not?


  1. Predict what Sarah does the next time someone says something nasty to her.
  2. What do you think the girls’ parents said about helping Christina talk about El Salvador instead of Mexico?

Teacher’s guide and multiple intelligence projects provided by children’s author Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. copyright 2002 Visit her website at