Discussion Questions for The Smoking Mirror

  1. What is the most likely reason Carol wakes up in her back yard with a dead jackrabbit in her hands?
  2. How has the disappearance of the twins’ mother affected their family?
  3. Why is it ironic that Johnny says, “An animal? Maybe I am one, too” in Chapter 2?
  4. At the beginning of chapter 5, the twins run in animal form with their grandmother. When they awaken, however, they discover she has died and seems smaller somehow. What is the implication about shape-shifters?
  5. What do we learn about Carol’s personality through her text messages?
  6. Why doesn’t Xolotl accompany the twins all the way through the Underworld?
  7. What does Carl infer about her childhood after the attack of silence in the desert of darkness?
  8. Why is it so easy for Johnny to fall under the control of the Balamija?
  9. Based on clues from Xolotl’s dialogue, when can you infer he was last incarnated as a human? Where?
  10. It could be argued that the trial the twins face in the ruins, where they meet what seem to be the spirits of their dead loved ones, is the hardest of all. Why?
  11. The desert of ash might be the most dangerous one the twins have to cross. Why?
  12. Why do you think Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, offers Carol an alliance?
  13. Look up “Mictlan,” “Xibalba,” and “Mitnal.” How does the author use these terms differently than their original meanings? Why do you think he has made these changes?
  14. The dialogue between Johnny and High Lord Kisin in Xibalba indicate what about the boy’s personality?
  15. What do the roles of Ixcuinan and the Ahuiateteo suggest about Mesoamerican views on good and evil?
  16. Why is it that blood can take the place of precious jewels as payment to the Lord and Lady of Death?
  17. What is Johnny’s biggest mistake when facing Tezcatlipoca? What does it tell us about Johnny’s character?
  18. How does Carol pull her brother back from the brink of destruction? Why do you think this works?
  19. Why do you think Carol can hear the song at the Well of Souls? What does the song represent for her?
  20. What is the lie the twins and their mother tell to explain their disappearance? Why does Johnny want to tell his father the truth?
  21. Prediction: what do you think the “important things” are that Dr. Garza wants to talk about?

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