What a sweet, well-written classic. Truly deserving of the Newbery Medal. I don't remember reading this book as a child, but I'm glad I had the privilege of reading it recently in order to write up some questions for my fifth grade daughter.
Here are the questions by chapter. Feel free to click the link and print for yourself. :)
1. How did Mama’s death affect each character—Anna, Caleb, and Papa?
2. Who is the narrator of this story?
3. How did Anna and Caleb feel about their father’s advertisement?
4. Describe Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton.
1. What do we learn about Sarah in her letters to the children?
2. How would Papa be able to recognize Sarah when she got off the train?
1. Describe how each of the characters felt as they anticipated Sarah’s arrival, and tell why you think they felt that way.
2. Describe the gifts Sarah gave to Anna and Caleb.
3. Why do you think Sarah chose those items as gifts?
4. How do you think Sarah felt at the end of her first day in a new place? Why?
1. Look up images of all the flowers mentioned: paintbrush, clover, prairie violets, roses, bride’s bonnet, seaside goldenrod, wild asters, and wooly ragwort. Which is your favorite and why?
2. Have you ever touched a sheep or a seal? How did they feel? How does Sarah describe seals?
3. What are some hints in this chapter that make the children think Sarah might choose to stay?
1. Does Sarah like the sheep? How do you know?
2. Thinking about everything you’ve read so far, what are some things Sarah misses about Maine?
3. What was the “dune” that Papa spoke of? Did Sarah like it—why or why not?
4. In your opinion, what do you think Sarah thought was missing from her picture?
5. Any more hints that Sarah might stay?
1. Describe winter where Caleb and Anna live.
2. If Sarah asked you to describe winter where you live, what would you say?
3. How does Sarah describe the sea?
1. Who is Maggie? How does she help Sarah?
2. What does Sarah miss?
3. Look up images of the flowers: zinnias, marigolds, wild feverfew, dahlias, columbine, nasturtiums, and tansy. Which is your favorite and why?
1. When Sarah wrote Papa (Jacob Witting) for the first time she said, “I am strong and I work hard and I am willing to travel. But I am not mild mannered.” Can you give examples from chapter 8 that make these descriptions of her seem pretty accurate?
2. What’s a squall?
3. What did Caleb say was missing from Sarah’s drawing?
4. What are some differences between Sarah and Mama?
1. Why are Caleb and Anna sad?
2. What made Anna think that Sarah might come back?
3. Why does Sarah decide to stay?
4. Though the book never says exactly, where do you think Papa, Caleb, and Anna live? Why?
My daughter is currently reading Skylark, the next book in the series. You can get the 5-book set on Amazon:
Linked to WFMW, Hip Homeschool Hop, A Little Bird Told Me, Literacy Musing Mondays
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