- The Library of Congress cataloging system has
placed this book in the following subject areas: boys, Minnesota,
fathers and sons, motherless families, brothers, and outlaws. How
does this constellation of subject areas contribute to the
unusual power of this book? What other books have similar
- How does the stark upper Midwestern landscape
contribute to the strength of this book? If the book were set in
the South, for example, how might the drama differ? How does the
presence or absence of a major role for landscape affect the way
you relate to a book?
- How does the book's time period contribute
to the strength of the book? If the book were set today, how
would the story unfold? How does the story relate to its time
- How does time move throughout the story? Discuss the
pacing of the story. Where are the places of slowness and the
places where events happen with intense speed? What does the pace
of the story contribute to its telling?
- The book begins and ends with the appropriately
named Land family hunting geese. What are the parallels between
these scenes and other scenes where humans are hunted by other
- Do you think Davy Land's battle against
Finch and Basco can be compared to the battle between David and
Goliath? If so, how? Can someone like Davy be a hero and an
outcast simultaneously? How can we justify Davy's
- Both Roxanne and the young Land children grew up
motherless. How does the absence of a mother affect the book? How
would the pilgrimage to find Davy be different if his mother were
part of the quest? What is the role of Sara, another motherless
- Discuss Natty Bumppo, Butch Cassidy, and Zane Grey
in the context of this book.
- Compare Swede as a writer to Little Women's
Jo. How is the craft of writing presented? How do youth, gender,
and writing interact in these stories? What is similar and what
- Both Davy and Jape are murderers. Describe the ways
in which the author has made one a sympathetic, forgivable
character and the other exactly the opposite.
- Why do Jeremiah's miracles seem to stop
once the Lands encounter Roxanna?
- Loyalty to the law versus loyalty to the family is
a huge issue throughout the book; discuss this.
- Swede's tale within a tale provides comic
relief in a serious situation; how does the author accomplish
this? How are embedded stories used in other books you have read
- Davy's situation is not resolved at the
end of the book; we gain no real insight into his life and mind.
Is this a flaw? Is Jape's violence realistic? Were you
satisfied with the book's end? How else might the author
have ended the book?
Created by Holly Carver, Paul Ingram, and Kristin