'The School for Whatnots' Book Club: Day 3 [End]

By: Shanleigh Klassen Photo By: @pages.for.dawn
“It’s a test . . . the only way out is through.”

Welcome back, one last time, to the OwlCrate Jr Book Club Read-Along for The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the featured titled in our March REAL FRIENDS box. We can’t wait to hear what you all thought about this incredible story!

Remember, this is a spoiler discussion for the conclusion of The School for Whatnots and you'll find the discussion questions posted below.

If you're not caught up just yet, no worries! You have until Friday, April 22nd to join in on our conversation and be eligible to win a free OwlCrate Jr box.

The Story Concludes . . .

Max, Josie, and Lola are separated from Max’s parents and Nurse Beverley and are whisked away to an elaborate maze deep below the school. The maze turns out to be only one part of a series of tests. They pass the first test when Josie protects Lola and they pass another when they’re faced with recordings of times from their past when they were mean to one another, realizing that no friendship is perfect. Shortly after, Josie, Max, and Lola are joined by Ivy right before the four of them are confronted by a large group of bully whatnots who hone in on each of their fears and insecurities.

They’re saved by the timely appearance of Lucinda and Ashley. The two of them had been best friends until Ashley, the rich kid in Lucinda’s class, had aged out of the whatnot system. Lucinda had followed Ivy and Josie to the school and then called Ashley up, believing her to be the only person who could really help. As a group of now six people, they head further into the maze until another group of whatnots appears, and asks a question each must answer: Why did Frances Miranda Gonzagaga invent whatnots?

Their guesses vary from the sheer joy of creation to the desire to make money to wanting to create a generation of children raised by kindness, but each is incorrect. Josie answers last and with the simplest answer ⁠— “Frances Miranda Gonzagaga invented the first whatnot . . . because she wanted a friend.”

With that correct answer, all the whatnots (except for Lola) shut down and a door in the back of the room appears. Inside the room is a bedridden Frances Miranda Gonzagaga. Mira reveals she created the whatnots out of her own desire for a friend but realized over the years that no matter how life-like she made her androids, they were poor substitutes for a real friendship. She then slowly started to replace her classroom whatnots with real children, convincing herself she was still helping the poor children pretending to be whatnots by providing them with a good education. Now that Josie answered the final question, she intends to give Josie the entire Whatnot Corporation, but Josie refuses.

This turns out to be the final test, which Josie passes, proving she’s the right person to lead the company and fix all of Mira’s mistakes. But Josie continues to refuse as she doesn’t want to be responsible for all the poor, lonely children who had to undergo what she, Ivy, and Lucinda all had to endure. Instead, she demands Mira fixes her own mistakes.

Lola informs us that Mira does just that once her health improves. She dissolves the whatnot school system and divides the money made from the schools to every family who suffered under it. Lola goes to live with Josie and her father, and they all maintain a friendship with Mira and each other.

On the last day of summer, Max, Josie, and all their family and friends have a pool party, and Max asks Josie why she gave up the opportunity to make their world however they wanted it. Josie responds, “We’re making our own world now.”

Discussion Questions:
  1. In your opinion, which of the tests from the maze would have been the most difficult to pass and why?

  2. What kind of future do you foresee for Josie and Max?

  3. This story is all about how important friendships are for all of us. Recommend to us another story that’s all about friendship!

Let us know any other thoughts you have about The School for Whatnots as well!

Thank you so much for joining us on this book club read-along! We’ll be back in a couple of weeks to read through our April book pick, to be revealed soon. Happy reading!

Have a question for the author? Join us for our OwlBabble live chat with Margaret Peterson Haddix next week on Thursday, April 21st at 2:00 PM PT / 5:00 PM ET on Instagram Live!

Book cover for The School for Whatnots next to a photo of Margaret Peterson Haddix on a wavy pale yellow background and a darker yellow header. Text reads OwlBabble with author Margaret Peterson Haddix in white and dark blue.

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