Additional Material for Abigail Rose
In the book’s Study Guide, the questions are all lower-order thinking questions. I did this simply to form a basic jumping off point for readers, especially young readers. I’m no professional educator, but I have come up with a few higher-order questions for those wishing to dig a little deeper.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or suggestions.
1.) In the introduction, the author states that the Patten House is 124 years old. Considering the home is built of wood and has stood in its current location for that long, does it make sense to you that the house might be unsafe for visitors? Why?
2.) Would you agree that a 124-year-old house should be saved, if possible? Why do you feel that way?
3.) The author shares the work of another author, Simon Sinek, who teaches that the WHY part of what we do is most important. She lists the examples of the Wright Brothers building the first airplane and Martin Luther King, Jr. being brave enough to speak his heart in front of millions of people. What other popular examples can you give of people that were able to accomplish a goal based on their WHY?
1.) Can you imagine living in Florida BEFORE air conditioning and highways? Before Publix supermarkets and Walmart or doctors’ offices and hospitals? What do you think the biggest challenge would be as a settler in Southwest Florida in the 1840s? (Remember there were local Indians fighting to protect their lands and lots of wild animals, too!)
2.) The first half of the book is considered historical fiction, this means the names and events are factual, but the story has added parts that the author made up. Do you think the author did a good job in telling a story that seemed like it could all actually take place? Explain your answer.
CHAPTER 1—JENNY LIND
1.) Look at the portrait of Jenny Lind on page 20. What can you tell about Ms. Lind from this portrait? Was she wealthy? Was she young or old at the time it was painted? Can you see why so many people thought she was beautiful? What do you think?
2.) In this chapter, we discover that the narrator for the story is a doll. Did this surprise you? Do you think this was an effective choice by the author? Why or why not?
CHAPTER 2—ARRIVAL IN MANATEE
1.) Abigail Rose, the Jenny Lind doll who is our narrator, describes herself as being made of porcelain with a fabric body stuffed with sawdust and cotton. Can you imagine children today playing with dolls made of breakable glass, like porcelain? Compare dolls and action figures of today with a doll like Abigail Rose. How are they the same? How are they different?
2.) Abigail Rose travels from Germany to New York City by ship, then from New York to Florida by train. She arrives in a busy store/post office and the Atzeroths take the doll to her final destination via wagon. Can you imagine these types of transportation? Which part of the journey sounds most interesting to you, and why?
3.) The major’s home is a mansion, pictured on page 29. What is your first impression of this house? What do you think the man who built the house, Major Robert Gamble, wanted people to think when they saw his home?
CHAPTER 3—TEA PARTY IN A HURRICANE
1.) Imagine being Major Gamble’s niece, Fanny, visiting her uncle’s house in the 1850’s before there was television, video games, or even radios! Fanny had to entertain herself. Do you think that would be difficult for you? Why or why not? Try to put yourself in that time period.
2.) A powerful hurricane comes ashore while Fanny has the doll outside for a tea party picnic. Hurricanes bring lots of rain, flooding, and high winds. Does it surprise you that Fanny is unable to find her doll after the storm? How would you have felt if it had been your favorite toy?
CHAPTER 4—WAITING AND LISTENING
1.) The doll loses track of time. If you were lost in a similar situation (like a castaway on a deserted island) what would YOU do to pass the time? How could you try to keep track of the passing days?
2.) Abigail Rose learns that the country is at war. Can you imagine how news like this would make you feel? Briefly, describe what you think that might feel like to Abigail Rose.
3.) After waiting and waiting a long time, the doll hears about plans for a party. There are two reasons to celebrate, what are they?
- A.) The war and a wedding
- B.) The war and Christmas
- C.) Christmas and a wedding
- D.) Christmas and New Year’s Eve
CHAPTER 5—JOY IN THE MIDST OF WAR
1.) The cook’s assistant devises a way to make cakes from a flour made of corn meal because wheat flour is difficult to come by during the war. We take so much for granted today, when we can walk into any store and not only buy flour and sugar but also cake mixes or whole, baked and decorated cakes! People who have lived without such conveniences (like during a war) tend to appreciate them more. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
2.) The doll loves hearing Captain McNeill read A Christmas Carol. Can you compare this tradition with one in your family for birthdays or a holiday or any occasion at all? Why do you think people enjoy traditions?
3.) Captain McNeill was a blockade-runner, taking much-needed supplies to the Confederate troops. Union Naval ships would capture ships like Captain McNeill’s and SINK them! Would you be willing to risk your life to get food and supplies to your friends during a war? Explain.
CHAPTER 6—THE ENEMY VISITS
1.) The war soon comes to Florida when Federal troops arrive to try and stop blockade-runners like Captain McNeill and to destroy farms and cattle ranches that are supplying the blockade-runners with food items. Imagine for a moment you are a member of the Union Navy. You live in a northern state like New Jersey or Pennsylvania. What do you think these men thought of hot, bug-infested Florida? Would you like to travel like these soldiers? Give one reason why or why not.
2.) The Union troops blow up the sugar mill. Everyone is afraid the house will be destroyed, but the troops leave it alone. Any guess as to why?
3.) Mrs. McNeill sends her slave, Aleck, to try and locate Captain McNeill and warn him to stay away. What do you think the troops would have done if they’d caught Captain McNeill?
4.) The soldiers were hungry. Food was hard to come by, even for the Union troops. Do you think that makes it right to steal from the local people? Why?
5.) Rebel Bushwhackers were scary men. They were not afraid to fight dirty and break the rules. Abigail tells us, “Between a bear and a bushwhacker, I heard some would prefer the bear.” This may just be something people said to make the bushwhackers seem more fierce, but do you think tales like that helped keep the Union soldiers out of the Florida woods? Why?
CHAPTER 7—INDIANS, GHOSTS, & YANKEES