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Official TBA Master List Resources Compiled by the TBA Program Committee

Always, Abigail


Always, Abigail
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh


Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer (YouTube) (TeacherTube)

Author Interview (YouTube) (TeacherTube)


Nancy J. Cavanaugh homepage:

Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s Twitter page:

Educator’s Guide for Always Abigail:

2013 Florida Book Award Winner Interview with Nancy J. Cavanaugh (6:55):

The Horn Book’s interview with Nancy J. Cavanaugh:

How to make your own poms using plastic bags:

How to make your own poms using felt:

How to make your own journal (or book of lists):

Abigail and Gabby read a favorite book from childhood to a Kindergarten class. Is there a class to whom you could read your favorite picture book? If not, do you know a younger child (friend, neighbor, relative) with whom you could share a book? Which book would you choose? How could you make the book more special? Would you make faces, change your voice for different characters, dress up?

Abigail loves making lists! Make a few lists of your own. For example, write a list of your ten favorite things about your current school year. Make a list of five things that are different from what you expected. Write a list of five things you would like to change in the next year.



Perform readers theater.

Read any list from the book.

Read the back cover from the book.



Books about School and Friendship:
Bell, Cece. El Deafo. The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.” (NoveList)

Cabot, Meg. The new girl. Guided by her rules, nine-year-old Allie works to get past being just the new girl at school, eagerly awaits the arrival of her kitten, and faces turmoil when her grandmother visits while the family is still settling into their new home. (NoveList)

English, Karen. Nikki & Deja. When an arrogant new girl comes to school, third-graders and best friends Nikki and Deja decide to form a club that would exclude her but find the results not what they expected. (NoveList)

Korman, Gordon. Schooled. Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie, but when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a guidance counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school. (NoveList)

Martin, Ann. A corner of the universe. The summer that Hattie turns twelve, she meets the childlike uncle she never knew and becomes friends with a girl who works at the carnival that comes to Hattie’s small town. (NoveList)

Mills, Claudia. Fractions=trouble! While trying to decide on a science fair project, third-grader Wilson struggles with fractions and, much to his embarrassment, his parents sign him up to work with a math tutor. (NoveList)

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Alice in Blunderland. Fourth-grader Alice tries unsuccessfully to avoid embarrassing mistakes and to establish better relations with her older brother Lester. (NoveList)

Patterson, James. How I survived bullies, broccoli, and Snake Hill. When Rafe Khatchadorian is sent to Camp Wannamorra, he teams up with his bunk mates to fend off the more “popular” kids’ plans to ruin their summer. (NoveList)

Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate: In a class by himself. Supremely confident middle-school student Nate Wright manages to make getting detention from every one of his teachers in the same day seem like an achievement. (NoveList)

Spinelli, Jerry. Jake and Lily. Jake and Lily are twins and have always felt the same–like two halves of one person–but the year they turn eleven and Jake begins hanging out with Bump Stubbins, everything changes. (NoveList)

Vail, Rachel. Justin Case: School, drool, and other daily disasters. Relates the daily worries and problems of Justin Case as he struggles to survive third grade. (NoveList)

Stories told in diaries and lists:
Benton, Jim. Dear dumb diary #1: Let’s pretend this never happened. In her diary, middle school student Jamie Kelly describes her life at home and at school, including her attempts to triumph over her nemesis, the beautiful and popular Angeline. (NoveList)

Cavanaugh, Nancy J. This journal belongs to Ratchet. Homeschooled by her mechanic-environmentalist father, eleven-year-old Rachel “Ratchet” Vance records her efforts to make friends, save a park, remember her mother, and find her own definition of “normal.” (NoveList)

Gale, Emily. My super-spy diary. Eliza’s dog, Einstein, falls for their neighbor’s dog, but Mrs. McNice does not seem very nice at all, and to prove it Eliza tries to invent the perfect gadget to help her discover the truth. (NoveList)

Greenwald, Tom. Charlie Joe Jackson’s guide to not reading. Middle schooler Charlie Joe is proud of his success at avoiding reading, but eventually his schemes go too far. (NoveList)

Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a wimpy kid, book 1. Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship. (NoveList)

Palacio, R.J. 365 days of wonder: Mr. Browne’s book of precepts. A book of precepts, with one saying for each day, from Auggie’s teacher Mr. Brown. (NoveList)

Pichon, Liz. The brilliant world of Tom Gates. Irritating his teachers with his lack of focus and creative excuses, Tom Gates spends his time drawing pictures and writing down observations about everything from his grumpy sister and annoying classmate to an unsatisfying camping trip. (NoveList)

Russell, Rachel Renee. Tales from a not-so-fabulous life. Fourteen-year-old Nikki Maxwell writes in her diary of her struggle to be popular at her exclusive new private school, then of finding her place after she gives up on being part of the elite group (NoveList)

Smith, Jenny. Diary of a parent trainer. Is your parent completely out of control? You need Katie Sutton’s help! She is a parent trainer extraordinaire, and also, quite possibly, an undiscovered genius. Her diary could change your life! Or it might not. Still, it’s worth a try… (NoveList)



Always, Abigail. Cavanaugh, Nancy J. (author).  Aug. 2014. 320p. Sourcebooks, hardcover, $12.99 (9781402293030). Grades 4-7. 

REVIEW.  First published July, 2014 (Booklist).

Abigail loves to order her world via lists. It is through these concise and airy enumerations that readers learn of the tribulations of her sixth-grade year: (1) she is in a different homeroom than her besties; (2) she is paired with the school’s biggest loser, Gabby, for a language arts project; and (3) her dreams of being a pom-pom girl are not going according to plan. When at last her pom-pom popularity seems to be sealed, she finds out it’s not what it seems. Appearances can be deceiving, and true friends might be the ones who are there for you no matter what. Could Gabby be that friend? Cavanaugh creates a layered and interesting character in Gabby, the resilient girl everyone loves to pick on. And Abigail has depths she herself hasn’t considered. Will she do the right thing or cave in to fickle middle-school cliques? Just the right amount of lightness and pathos will hook readers looking for something (a) engaging and (b) just a little bit different. — Karen Cruze

School Library Journal:
Cavanaugh, Nancy J. Always Abigail. 320p. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Aug. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781402293030.

Gr 5-7–Abigail Walters is starting sixth grade, and this is her year. She and her lifelong best friends, Alli and Cami, have been practicing for pom-pom squad tryouts for months, and when they all become poms, it will open the doors to popularity. Unfortunately for Abigail, the year starts with a hitch when she is assigned to a different homeroom than AlliCam, as she calls them, and things go from bad to worse when she gets paired up with the school’s biggest outcast, Gabby Marco, for a letter-writing project. Then, worst of all, Abigail doesn’t make the squad. As the year carries on, Abigail becomes more estranged from AlliCam, and to her surprise, she starts to form a friendship with Gabby. When she has the chance to be a pom-pom girl after all, she’s forced to decide which is more important: her newfound popularity or standing up for what she knows is right. Written in short lists, letters, notes, and journal entries, the novel’s mixed-media format will appeal to reluctant readers, and Abigail’s voice rings true. What’s more, her conflicting emotions about the friendships in her life resonate. The story is honest without being preachy, and many middle school readers will relate to Abigail’s struggle to balance social pressures with her own moral compass.–Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Abington School District, PA


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