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A. LaFaye
author, A. LaFaye
author's website
Simon & Schuster

In 1870s small-town Nebraska, nothing is easy for young Nathaniel Peale. His leg is crushed in a farming accident, so he can no longer help his father on the farm.

Afraid he'll lose their homestead, Mr. Peale adopts a young boy named John Worth through the Orphan Train system. Nataniel feels replaced by this young boy and frustrated because he lost the closeness he had with his father. He also struggles to keep up with kids half his age when he attends school for the first time.

John Worth doesn't have it any easier. His family died in a fire in New York City and now he's on a farm in Nebraska with no idea what to do.

The boys struggle to find their place in their new family situations. Their struggle comes to a head when talk of a range war starts and they spot the person who's out to heat things up by cutting fences.

1.   Have you been to Nebraska before? What descriptive words would you use to tell a friend about the state?
2.   John Worth is sent on an Orphan Train to live in a new home, one where he is little more than the "hired hand." Except that John has never worked on a farm and doesn't know what to do. Have you ever wound up someplace where you felt like a fish out of water? What other analogies would you use? (Fish out of water is one, like a duck on a baseball diamond is another. Can you make some up?)
3.   If this story were told from John's point of view, how would it be different? How would we understand Nathaniel's feelings?
4.   The Gantrys and the Danvers are engaged in a range war. After reading the book, what does that mean? Why did they have such a hard time living side by side? Do you feel more drawn to one side than the other?
5.   By the end of the book, do you think the boys were considered to be heroes?
When your child has finished reading Worth, be sure to check off this book on your booklist, moving towards reading 12 books or 18 books this summer. You can register for a mile marker, our random drawing for several levels of giveaways.
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