Use the following questions for class discussion or writing opportunities. Brief answers are provided.
1. Why were hand written letters so important in the time that the story takes place? This was the most common form of communication. No email, No cell phones, not everyone had access to a telephone.
2. When Papa worries about the farm, what does Sarah do? She takes him for a walk in the fields and they talk. (page 19)
3. List the signs of the drought:
Leaves crumble, dirt from the fields blows over everything, wells are drying up, nothing is green , turkey vultures circle, families moving away, pond dried up, random fires start, dust gets into the cabin and into the food
4. List the ways everyone helped during the drought:
Stopped taking baths, hauled water from the river for the animals, conserved water wherever they could
5. On page 32 Sarah’s skirt catches on fire. With what you know about fire safety, does Papa do the right thing to put the fire out? Yes, his reaction is similar to “Stop,Drop,and Roll"
6. Jacob (Papa) says that his name is written in the land. What did he mean? He has been there so long that it is part of him and he is part of it. (Page 40 describes more of the importance in that statement.)
7. Sarah and the children go to Maine during the drought. Do you think this was a good idea? The family was so tense from worrying about the lack of water. This got them away from the situation. They had water and they could swim and fish. This way Papa would not have to worry about them. Also, Sarah was pregnant and it was better for her, too.
8. Although Maine was green and there were lots of things to do, the children became increasingly anxious and sad. Why? They missed their father and worried that they would never go back home.
9. What did Sarah do as a symbolic gesture when they finally returned to the prairie? She used a stick to write her name in the dirt to show her loyalty and love of the family and the land.