Great Turkey Walk


Kathleen Karr

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Imagine you're 15 years old, just finished your third try at passing the third grade and have been told by your teacher that it's time for you to leave school and go out and make your way in the world. What would you do? How about buying 1,000 turkeys for 25 cents a piece, walking them 800 miles from Missouri to Denver and selling them for $5 a piece? Well, it's 1860 and to Simon Green this sounds like a great idea. Now, Simon isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he's got enough good sense to recognize a great business opportunity when he sees one and enough determination to pull it off. And determination is what he needs with all the challenges he faces on his way to Denver. Just how do you get 1,000 turkeys across a river? And what happens when you and your turkeys are set upon by a swarm of millions of grasshoppers? Not to mention the fact that for nearly their entire journey, Simon and his friends have to fend off turkey rustlers intent on stealing the whole flock from them. And one of those rustlers isn't a stranger.

These are just a few of the crazy adventures Simon and his business partners encounter as they make their way across the country. And what makes this story even crazier is that there really were folks who walked herds of turkeys hundreds of miles to market back in the 19th century. Read about all of Simon's adventures and find out if he and those birds ever do make it to Denver in The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr.

Discussion questions

  1. How does Simon's family treat him?
  2. How does Miss Rogers show that she cares for Simon?
  3. Jabeth Ballou isn't a natural with turkeys but he is able to contribute to the group. How does he contribute?
  4. How is Mr. Peece more a father to Simon than his own father? How does Mr. Peece change over the great walk?
  5. How does Samson betray Simon?
  6. What do Simon and his gang learn about Native Americans as they cross their land?
  7. How are the Calvary soldiers portrayed in this book?
  8. What are some of the calamities Simon and his gang face on their walk?
  9. How does Lizzie Hardwick come to join the group?
  10. Is Simon Green smart? In what ways?
  11. What do you predict for Simon's future?

If you liked this book, try

  • Adaline Falling Star by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Jim Ugly by Sid Fleischman
  • The Haymeadow by Gary Paulsen
  • Tracks in the Snow by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
  • Tucket's Ride by Gary Paulsen


Anything but turkey!

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.