Counting Thyme


Counting Thyme
Written by Melanie Conklin

Publisher’s Summary:
When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is- temporary. After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life-she’d give anything for him to be well-but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

Primary Source Pairing:
In the midst of adjusting to a new city, a new school, and new friends, Thyme is working on chores or projects for her parents to accumulate minutes, or time, so she can return to her home in California. This time gives her hope. After she comes to the sad realization that her family is staying in New York for the foreseeable future, Thyme decides to become more involved at school. Thyme’s friends are trying out for the school play The Wizard of Oz. Thyme signs up for the sound production team with her friend Jake. The sound team works hard and Thyme is able to find just the right materials to make the iconic tornado sound for the play.

For this primary source pairing, invite students to watch a video about creating sound effects for a passage from the book The Wizard of Oz. Encourage students to make connections between the video and Thyme and Jake’s experiences in the book on the sound production team. As an extension, give students the materials and time to create their own sound effects for a poem or book passage.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see and hear.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What other details do you notice?
  • Who are the people who appear in it?
  • What tools are used to create the sound effects?
  • Make connections between the tools used in the video and the tools used in the book.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Make Sound Effects video: YouTube