Freddie in the Shade

Your students will love this moving story about a boy adjusting to a new stepmom, a new baby, and a move across the country. We adore Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of the Newbery-Honor-winning Echo and Esperanza Rising. (She’s not only an amazing author, she is a lovely person!)

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
From the September 2017 Issue

Learning Objective: After reading a thought-provoking story by Pam Muñoz Ryan, students will explain what helps Freddie, the main character, adjust to a new home, school, and baby sister over the course of the story.

Lexile: 660L
Guided Reading Level: S
DRA Level: 50
Topic: Social Issues,
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Activities (6)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
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Quizzes (2)
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Answer Key (2)

More About the Story


Character, vocabulary, close reading, plot, word choice, foreshadowing, setting, explanatory writing

Complexity Factors

Levels of Meaning/Purpose

“Freddie in the Shade” is about a boy who has difficulty accepting the many changes in his life. His sunglasses serve as a way for him to hide from change.


The story is told in the third person and is chronological.


The language is mainly conversational and contains some dialogue.

Knowledge Demands 

Familiarity with bakeries will be helpful.



Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Preview Text Features/Set a Purpose for Reading (3 minutes)  

  • Have students read the title of the story and look at the picture on page 10. Ask what they think the title might mean. (Point out that shades is a word for sunglasses.)
  • Ask a volunteer to read aloud the Up Close box on page 11.  
  • Storyworks fiction is a “kit” with close-reading questions right on the page to help students understand the story and practice thinking and questioning while they read—a habit they can apply to any story.
  •  Point out to students the bubbles in the margins of the story and the arrows that connect each one to a sentence in bold. Preview the questions in the bubbles with them.

Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • Distribute our vocabulary activity to preview five terms. Students will also be able to add other words from the story that are unfamiliar to them.
  • Terms in the activity are darted, chocolate éclair, smirked, wistful, and wavered. 

2. Close Reading

First Read: Get to Know the Text (20 minutes)

Read the story aloud as a class, or play our audio version as students follow along in their magazines. 

Second Read: Unpack the Text (30 minutes)

  • Have small groups read the story again, pausing to discuss the close-reading questions in the margins. They can then respond on their own paper. Answers follow.
  • Have groups discuss the critical-thinking question. Then come together as a class for groups to share their ideas.

Answers to Close-Reading Questions

  • Plot (p. 11) Freddie’s life has been disrupted because his dad recently remarried and a new baby is on the way. Freddie has moved from San Diego to Minneapolis and must start at a new school and make new friends.
  • Character (p. 11) Freddie decides to wear sunglasses to “protect him from anything else that might disrupt his life.” This suggests that he doesn’t like things to change. Moving to a new town and having a new brother or sister isn’t exciting to him; it is upsetting. As a result, he wants to keep to himself.
  • Word Choice (p. 12) The author says that Freddie was hibernating to show that he is like a bear sleeping in a cave—he has gone off by himself and isn’t interacting with anyone.
  • Character (p. 12) This line means that Freddie likes things to be simple and not challenge the way he’s used to doing them. Freddie’s reaction to moving to Minneapolis also tells you this about him: Making new friends and going to a new school can be complicated, and Freddie is unhappy about it.
  • How Characters Interact (p. 13) Amy has a positive attitude about babies, saying they’re cute and they love you. Freddie hasn’t been excited about having a baby sibling, but Amy’s comments make him realize that it might be better than he thought. 
  • Foreshadowing Clue (p. 13) Amy says that Freddie is lucky his family is together all the time. This is a hint that her family is not together, which Freddie finds out later in the story.
  • Setting (p. 13) Freddie feels at home and protected in the bakery. It smells good, and Amy and her dad are friendly and welcoming. He becomes less unhappy about connecting with people and even tells Amy why he wears sunglasses all the time.
  • Comparing Characters (p. 14) Amy is similar to Freddie because change is difficult for her; going back and forth between her mom’s and her dad’s houses is disruptive. She is different because she has a more positive attitude. She makes the best of the time she has in each home.
  • Character’s Motivation (p. 14) Freddie takes off his sunglasses because he realizes that they haven’t stopped things from changing. Plus, he didn’t need them to. Change isn’t so bad; he has made a new friend, Amy. He also realizes he’s not the only one dealing with changes. 
  • Character (p. 14) Freddie has learned to accept that life is sometimes complicated, but he can handle it. He no longer wants to stop things from disrupting his life, because the disruptions can bring happiness. 

Critical-Thinking Question

  • What people and events help Freddie to adjust to change through the story? Which do you think most affects him? Why? (character) Students will likely say making friends with Amy affects him most. She makes him think differently about meeting new people and having a baby sibling; plus, he realizes he’s not the only one facing disruptions. He also changes because he works in the bakery, a place where he feels comfortable, and he meets Mark, who is in his grade. 

3. Skill Building

Featured Skill: Character

  • Have students complete the character activity to describe what Freddie learns at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  • Assign the writing prompt on page 14 for students to complete in class or for homework.

Differentiate and Customize
For On Level Readers

Have students pretend they are Freddie and write a journal entry explaining what they've learned about accepting changes in life and how they learned it. 

For Struggling Readers

Readers Be sure to take advantage of the audio version of the story to support struggling readers. Have them listen to the story as they read along in the magazine. Then invite them to choose three of the questions in the margins to answer.

For Advanced Readers

Pair this story with another text about a character learning to accept changes. Try One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia or Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham.

For ELL Students

Have students locate San Diego and Minneapolis on a map, and use the legend to figure out how far Freddie moved. If students have moved from another country to your area, ask them to figure out how far they moved as a comparison.

For Independent Reading

Offer this story as a choice for students to read on their own. Confer with them to check comprehension, using the close-reading questions in the margins as a guide, or have them complete the character activity independently.