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In August of 1904 in rural Indiana, Miss Myrt Arbuckle, the teacher of the Hominy Ridge School, "hauled off and died." Well, that's what 15-year-old Russell Culver said, anyway. To Russell, school is a "jailhouse" holding him back from his dreams. He's hoping that late summer's turn of events will shut school down for good.
Yet a new teacher is quickly hired, someone up to the challenge of handling Russell -- his older sister Tansy. It's bound to be a busy school year with a privy fire, snakes in the classroom, and Friday Elocution. Or in the words of a student known as "Little Britches" ('cause her dress got caught in her drawers):
Adder in the desk drawer,
Aunt Fanny in the ditch;
Life here at Hominy Ridge
Sure is a - (page 152)
Will Tansy be able to keep school in session and set her brother on a new course? Read The Teacher's Funeral and discover for yourself.
Booktalk from New Hampshire's Great Stoneface Book Award committee and Nancy Keane's Booktalks
Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!
- Why do you think the author divided his book into three parts? Why did he put a new part where he did in the story? Why do you think he called them "three acts" in the title of his book?
- Why does Russell dislike school so much? Several other students don't want to be at school either. Why don't they and what does Tansy do to change their minds?
- Why does Russell want to leave town and head for the Dakotas? Wheat threshing is hard work. Why doesn't he want to work on his own family's farm?
- Why does Tansy want to be the teacher? Why doesn't Russell want Tansy to be his teacher?
- Sycamore Township, the town that the Culvers live in, is so small that everyone knows everyone else's business. How do some of the characters feel about that? Explain how a small town is better for some characters than others.
- What about Sycamore Township appeals to you? What wouldn't you like about living there?
- Name Tansy's three suitors. How does each of them show his interest in her? Who is the most effective? Why does Russell not understand that they are wooing her?
- How did Tansy pass her teaching examination? Did it work out the way that the Superintendent of Schools intended? If not, why did he pass her?
- Is the knowledge that Tansy's students demonstrated useful to them? Are they educated? How is what they learn different from what you are learning?
- Why does the author finish his book by telling you what happened to all the characters as adults? Is that how you thought they would pair up?
If you liked this book, try
- Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Frozen Rodeo by Catherine Clark
- Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
- The Secret School by Avi
- The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney
- Who Put That Hair in My Toothbrush by Jerry Spinelli
Aunt Fanny Hamline's sour cream apple pie.
Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.