University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Field of Philosophy: : Ethics; Metaphysics

Plot Summary: : Chrysanthemum loves her name, considering it to be “perfect.” But in school, other children tease her for having an unusual name and she starts to wish that she had an ordinary name. Then Mrs. Twinkle, the music teacher, loved by the children because they think she is “an indescribable wonder,” informs the children that her first name is Delphinium and that if the child she is carrying is a girl, she’s considering Chrysanthemum as a name.

Some discussion questions: :

What makes a name a “perfect” name? Is there such a thing? Is any name perfect? Every name?
What does it mean for something to be perfect?
Is your name an important part of who you are?
If you changed your name, would you change?
Why do the other students tease Chrysanthemum?
How do people react to people who are different from them? Do people always react in the same way?
Do you think some of the students were uncomfortable with the way Chrysanthemum was being treated? If yes, why didn’t they say anything?
Why does the music teacher’s name change the way the other students see Chrysanthemum?