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by Naomi Shihab Nye

Famous Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Here it comes, the Big Question: what is the speaker's definition of famous? And do you agree with it? Why or why not?
  2. What's your definition of famous? After reading the poem, has it changed at all? 
  3. Is fame more about importance? Or impact? Or another quality the poet suggests? How do you know?
  4. All the inanimate objects the poet mentions as being famous aren't doing anything; they are just being. Should we have to do something in order to be famous?
  5. Is this a sad poem? Is it happy? Does it make you feel like you'll never measure up, or like you are already pretty famous? 
  6. Why do you think the poet chose buttonholes as something to try to be like? Why not zippers? Why not potholders? Why not pillows? What are the specific qualities of buttonholes that make them particularly famous for "never forget[ing] what [they] could do"?
  7. Do you think that the birds watching the cat from the birdhouse are famous to the cat? Or does it only go one way?

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