Talking Story

One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker transports readers into a world of magical realism set in modern Hawaii. The following questions can be used as group discussion starters or as short answer essay questions to measure reader comprehension and enhance literary analysis skills.

Spoiler Warning: These questions may reveal important details about the story. Be sure to finish each chapter before reading the questions.

Chapter 1: The End of Summer Fun

  1. Why did ‘Ālika throw water on Zader?
  2. Do you think ‘Ālika knew what would happen? Why or why not?
  3. How did ‘Ālika explain Zader’s blisters? Why did they happen?
  4. Have you ever seen someone teased for being different? How do  you think that person felt?

Chapter 2: Talking Story

  1. What were Uncle Kahana an ‘Ilima doing at the beach?
  2. Where did Uncle Kahana, ‘Ilima, and Zader go to talk?
  3. Do you think Jay’s actions made the situation worse or better between Zader, ‘Ālika, and Chad?

Chapter 3: Kahana and the Mano Meal

  1. What was unusual about the shark Kahana sees?
  2. What things does Kahana notice about the baby?
  3. What would you do if you found a baby alone on a reef?

Chapter 4: Yawn

  1. Why does Uncle Kahana think Zader needs to eat?
  2. Who is Aunty Lei?
  3. Does Zader smell like a cookie?

Chapter 5: One Special Kine Stupid

  1. Who is Char Siu?
  2. Why does Char Siu think Lua is for both boys and girls?
  3. What happened to ‘Ālika’s nose?
  4. Is Liz, Jay and Zader’s mother, mad at them for the fight with ‘Ālika? Why or why not?

Chapter 6: Dreams and Wishes

  1. What kinds of things is Zader allergic to?
  2. Who is Dream Girl?
  3. Have you ever had a nightmare about a scary person chasing you? If so, how did that make you feel?
  4. Do you think any of the stories Zader tells about his biological parents are true? Why or why not?

Chapter 7: Balance

  1. What is Uncle Kahana trying to teach Jay by making him stand on one foot with a broom?
  2. Nalu refers to acceptance and is compared to ocean waves. In Zader’s life, trouble keeps coming like oceans waves. According to Uncle Kahana, how should Zader deal with his problems?
  3. What’s the secret password?

Chapter 8: Go Pro

  1. Have you ever eaten shave ice or a snow cone? What’s your favorite flavor?
  2. Why does Frankie wipe out on the big wave?
  3. Why does Jay tell Mrs. Machado that he can’t sleepover?
  4. Do you think this is the real reason Jay doesn’t go to Frankie’s house? Why or why not?

Chapter 9: On the Rocks

  1. What’s different about this dream than other dreams Zader has had about Dream Girl?
  2. Who do you think Pua might be?
  3. Who do you think Kalei might be?
  4. What does Zader wake up holding in his hand?

Chapter 10: Scavenger Hunt

  1. Jay says Zader never gets sick. Why do you think that’s true?
  2. Uncle Kahana asks Zader which is more important: what people think about him or what he can do. If Uncle Kahana asked you this question, how would you answer? Would you stay safe in the house or would you wear funny clothes so you could be outside?
  3. Why do you think Uncle Kahana leaves sprunch and cookies under the bushes?

Chapter 11: Schooled

  1. What do you think happens between Zader and the octopus?
  2. How does being on the reef make Zader feel?
  3. Are young things really safe on the reef? Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever seen a green flash at sunset?
  5. What do you think Uncle Kahana is trying to teach  Zader when he talks about the green flash?

Chapter 12: Here’s to You, Ms. Robinson

  1. Is Jay popular with kids at school? How do you know?
  2. Does Jay ignore Zader at school or does he act like a friend and brother?
  3. Why is it important to Zader and Jay that they get into Ridgemont Academy?

Chapter 13: Run-Fu

  1. Why is Uncle Kahana mad at Char Siu, Zader, and Jay?
  2. What do the plants symbolize?
  3. What is Run-Fu and Kill-Fu? Is one better than the other? Why?

Chapter 14: Alien Space Walk

  1. While walking on the reef, Zader sees Kalei. Why is this an important moment in the story?
  2. What does Kalei do when he passes Zader?
  3. What’s the reason ‘Ālika gives for picking on Zader?
  4. How does Jay get involved?

Chapter 15: Jaws Junior

  1. Why is Uncle Kahana upset with Zader?
  2. What does Jay say he saw in the water?
  3. What does Nili-boy say you should do if you see a shark?
  4. Why do you think the two sharks were heading toward Piko Point?

Chapter 16: School Daze

  1. Does Zader think he’s a good artist? Why or why not?
  2. Why does Ms. Robinson think Zader’s art is important?

Chapter 17: Uncle Kahana’s Shopping List

  1. What kinds of food is Uncle Kahana planning to cook?
  2. Why has Jay stopped surfing?
  3. Why do surfers wear ti leaf leis? Is there something about the ti leaves themselves or is it  the fact that they are woven into leis that protect surfers from sharks?
  4. Do you think Uncle Kahana is telling the truth?

Chapter 18: Making Leis

  1. What’s Jay doing in the living room?
  2. Why are the girls making leis in the kitchen?
  3. Who does Zader need to talk to?

Chapter 19: The Plan

  1. Does Nili-boy think Uncle Kahana knows a lot about sharks?
  2. Besides wearing a ti leaf lei, what else do surfers do to protect themselves from sharks?
  3. Zader doesn’t have a lot of money, but says he’s willing to exchange work for painting supplies and help. Have you ever done extra work for money or for something special?

Chapter 20: No Letter Day

  1. Who got accepted into Ridgemont?
  2. How does Zader feel when he learns he is on a waiting list?
  3. What do Char Siu and Jay say when they learn Zader may not go to school with them next year?

Chapter 21: Hohonukai Cousin

  1. Why does Kahana make ‘Ilima stay away from Piko Point?
  2. Pua and her daughter Leia thank Kahana for the fish they think he left for them at Piko Point the day Jay saw the sharks. Did he really leave it for them?
  3. Who do you think Pua and Leia are?
  4. Why does Pua promise to help Jay get over his fear of sharks and his disbelief in the power of ti leaf leis?

Chapter 22: The Theft

  1. Why is Jay unconcerned that someone took his surfboard?
  2. Who really took the surfboard?
  3. Why is Zader pretending to be sick?

Chapter 23: Surf Designs

  1. Why is Rad helping Zader?
  2. What is Zader afraid of?
  3. How does the surfboard turn out?

Chapter 24: Christmas Eve Horror Story

  1. Why does Jay think all sharks want to eat humans?
  2. What is the difference between Niuhi sharks and other sharks?
  3. Earlier in the book a shark with part of his tail fin missing is mentioned. Why is this important to the story?
  4. Why did Bobby Nickels go back into the water and pick up all the bits of net from the ocean?

Chapter 25: Jay’s Shark Tale

  1. When did Jay become afraid?
  2. Why did Uncle Kahana ask if the big shark was missing part of its tail fin?
  3. Why did Jay feel threatened or afraid?

Chapter 26: One Shark, No Bite

  1. Jay and Zader talk about taking risks. Jay is afraid of getting bit by a shark; Zader is afraid of getting wet. What do they decide to do about their fears?
  2. What happened to ‘Ilima on the way back from Respite Beach?
  3. What do Nili-boy and Jay do when they see the sharks?

Chapter 27: High Noon

  1. Why is Zader all alone without his water protection at Piko Point?
  2. What does ‘Ālika tell Zader he will do every day at school next year?
  3. Previously, when Zader got wet, it really hurt and it made him afraid. While it still hurt, this time Zader reacts differently. Why?

Chapter 28: The Hero Returns

  1. What does Jay want to do when he learns that ‘Ālika punched Zader?
  2. Why do you think Zader sees sparkles and smells sandalwood when he looks at Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima?
  3. What happened between ‘Ālika and Zader after ‘Ālika first knocked him down?
  4. Why does Zader say he wants Jay and Char Siu to go to Ridgemont Academy next year even though he can’t go?

Chapter 29: Dream Girl

  1. Who does Dream Girl say she is?
  2. Why does she throw a ti leaf lei at Zader?
  3. If Dream Girl is real, how does that affect Zader and the rest of the Niuhi Shark Saga?

Chapter 30: Epilogue

  1. Why didn’t Zader get into Ridgemont originally?
  2. Why does Justin Halpert fight to have Zader accepted into the school?
  3. Who do you think Justin Halpert may be?

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When you’re allergic to water,
growing up in Hawaii
isn’t always paradise.

With Niuhi sharks,
even out of the water,
you’re not safe.

Everything you thought you knew
about Zader is a  lie.