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Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns
y John Green

Publishing Information: Dutton Books: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9780525478188 / 9780142414934 (PB) / 9781423344223 (Audio)
: 352 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

Following an all-night escapade, Margo disappears and Quentin decides to follow the trail of obscure clues left for only him.

Book Talk:
Quentin goes on a midnight adventure with the amazing Margo, his next-door neighbor for whom he has had a crush since childhood. Right after that, Margo mysteriously disappears and Q spends his last couple of weeks of high school hunting down clues that take him to deserted buildings and on an unexpected road trip. Although this is a book with a serious theme, the dialogue is witty and there are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments with Q and his friends.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Coming of Age
Missing Persons

Awards & Reviews:
Booklist Editors' Choice (Books for Youth: Older Readers), 2008
Oprah's Kids' Reading Lists (12 years and Up)
School Library Journal Best Books, 2008
Texas Teyshas Reading Lists, 2009
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booklist¸ June 15, 2008
Horn Book Magazine, September 1, 2008
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2008
Library Journal, December 9, 2008
Library Media Connections
, January/February 2009
Publishers Weekly
, September 8, 2008, p. 51
School Library Journal, October 1, 2008, p. 148 (Starred Review)
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates
, August 1, 2008

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Do you think that Margo and Q’s all-night escapade was justifiable?
  2. What did you think happened to Margo? (Before you knew)
  3. Why do you think Margo decided to take off? Do you feel she was justified in her actions? (Her decision to do so and her method of doing it.) Is that fair to the people left behind? Does it matter? Was it necessary for her to leave before she graduated?
  4. What do you think of the attitude displayed by Margo’s parents? Do you think Margo and her parents will ever reconcile?
  5. How do you envision the rest of Margo’s life? Do you foresee good things for her? Do you think her character is strong enough to make it without support from family and friends? Do you think she will ultimately be better off?
  6. How do you think the events of this book will influence Q’s life? (Cite some examples in the book for evidence.)
  7. Do you think they did a smart thing going on the road trip? Was it inevitable? Necessary?
  8. Would you skip graduation under those circumstances?
  9. Do you think Margo and Q will keep in touch? Do you want them to?
  10. Do you like Margo’s character? (Keeping in mind she did dump Q for her “cooler” friends.) Did your opinion of Margo change much after she disappeared? At the end of the story?
  11. Which character in the story do you relate to most? Why?
  12. If you could choose one character in the story to hang out with for a day, who would it be?
  13. Why do you think the author, John Green, chose “Paper Towns” for his title? What is the significance? Does the name relate to the characters at all?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
National Runaway Switchboard -
Stand Up for Kids -

Fake ID by Walter Sorrells, 2005 (2007 RITBA Nominee)
Looking for Alaska byJohn Green, 2005 (2006 RITBA Nominee)
Playing It Cool by Joaquin Dorfman, 2006
The September Sisters
by Jillian Cantor, 2009
So Yesterday
by Scott Westerfeld, 2004 (2006 RITBA Nominee)
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci, 2001 (2001 RITBA Nominee)
Things Hoped for
by Andrew Clements, 2006

Other Books by the Authors:
Looking for Alaska, 2005 (2006 RITBA Nominee)
An Abundance of Katherines, 2006

About the Author:
The Short Bio:
John Green is the Michael L. Printz Award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. When he was little, he wanted to be an earthworm scientist. (There is a word for such a person: oligochaetologist.) But he killed off his entire earthworm farm due to his general inability to care for pets. Later, he made a list of things he was good at. The list included "telling lies" and "sitting." So he became a writer.

The Long Bio For Book Reports, The Insanely Curious, And/Or Stalkers:
John Green is a writer living in Indianapolis, Indiana (by way of New York and Chicago) with his outrageously wonderful wife, Sarah. John's first novel, Looking for Alaska, was published in 2005. It won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult literature, was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, and received many other accolades, which are discussed at some length here. The movie rights to Looking for Alaska were acquired by Paramount, and Josh Schwartz (creator of The O. C. and a very nice guy) is currently working on the screenplay. It has also been translated into 13 languages.

John's second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, came out in September 2006. Katherines was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and was also a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. More about Katherines here.

John grew up in Florida before moving to Alabama to attend boarding school--and yes, that school bears some physical resemblance to Alaska's Culver Creek. After graduating from college in 2000, John worked for six months as a student chaplain at a children's hospital. It was there that he started thinking about last words and the book that became Looking for Alaska.

John lived for several years after that in Chicago, where he worked for Booklist Magazine, a fantastic book review journal. While there, he reviewed hundreds of books of all varieties--from picture books about Confucius to romance novels about Confucius (really!). His reviewing specialties included the literary fiction, books about Islam, and books about conjoined twins. John has read 11 books about conjoined twins (there are, it is worth pointing out, more books about conjoined twins currently in print than there are actual conjoined twins currently alive. In this sense, conjoined twins are like serial killers). John's book criticism has also appeared in The New York Times Books Review.

John has also written for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," and for Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ. If you want to be inundated with jokes about John's ex-girlfriends, peruse the "On the Radio" archives. Katherines readers will be unsurprised to learn that John often writes about trivial intellectual pursuits for mental floss magazine.

What else? John and his brother Hank created the year-long video blog Brotherhood 2.0. He is a total Dumpee. He likes sushi and country music and Nintendo. (Note: Those words, in that order, have never appeared on the Internet.) (from John Green's Website at

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair