Our Only May Amelia


Jennifer L. Holm

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


Discussion Questions 

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. A Finnish proverb opens the story of May Amelia, "If you don't go, you can't return." What does this mean to you?
  2. May Amelia is the only girl in Nasel. How do you think that feels? In what ways does that effect her life?
  3. What kind of person is Kaarlo? Why does he act the way he does? Why doesn't May Amelia get along with him?What does it take for her to finally call him brother?
  4. Does Grandmother Patience's name fit her? How does she treat May Amelia? What is your view on hitting children as a form of discipline?
  5. Which of May Amelia's brothers do you like best? Why?
  6. Were Papa and Mama right to keep the fact that Kaarlo's parents were dead from him? Why do you think they did this? How does Kaarlo react?
  7. What is May Amelia's reaction when Baby Amy dies? Why do you think she reacts so strongly?
  8. What did you think of the cover and the illustrations in the book? Did they add or take away from your enjoyment of the story?
  9. Why do you think Papa is so gruff? Is he a good father? What challenges does he have by being May Amelia's dad?
  10. At the end of the book, we learn from the Author's Note that this story is inspired by the author's grandaunt. Do you like it when authors include factual information after a fictional story?
  11. This book is a Newbery Honor Award winner. What about this book do you think makes it excellent?


Locate the Nasal river on a map. Read other "pioneer" fiction like Little House on the Prairie or Caddie Woodlawn. Compare the main characters of those books with May Amelia.

Snack ideas

Blackberries with homemade whipped cream

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