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Book Club Kits: Shiloh

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Book Summary


When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it's love at first sight -- and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun -- and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty's secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd's anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?

Discussion Questions



1. Why doesn't Marty ever shoot at anything moving? (He doesn't want to kill animals.)

2. Why does Marty want to be a vet? (He likes animals, wants to help them and their owners.)

3. Why doesn't Judd Travers like Marty? (Marty once caught Judd cheating Mr. Wallace.)

4. Why doesn't Marty get paid for the work he does at home? (The family doesn't have extra money; everyone is expected to help out.)



5. Why does Marty leave the dinner table when they're having fried rabbit? (He says he doesn't want to bite on buckshot, but he is also responding to how it died.)

6. Why do people in Tyler County keep to their own business? (People live apart in the hills and in small towns. They like their privacy and independence, but they also depend on one another and don't want to cause trouble.)

7. Why is the mail delivery a big event for many people in Sisterville and Friendly? (People don't see one another often. It's a chance to communicate and connect with the rest of the world.)

8. Why does Marty tell Judd that his dog's name is Shiloh? (He's angry at the way Judd treats his dogs; he wants Judd to know that he is looking out for the beagle.)



9. Using dialect: Why does the author use words such as “lookin'” instead of “looking” when the characters speak? (His dialogue shows how people in West Virginia really speak.)



10. Do you think Marty should give up his desire to be a vet even though there's not enough money to educate him? Why or why not?

11. When Shiloh reappears at Marty's house, what do you think Marty should have done?




1. Why is Marty's problem more than just lying to Judd? (He's deceiving his family as well; this makes him feel bad.)

2. How does Marty keep Dara Lynn away from Shiloh's hiding place? (He tells her about a snake.)

3. Why do people leave food for Mr. Preston in their mailboxes? (They think the family needs it; he'll find it there when he delivers the mail but won't have to talk to them about it.)

4. How does Marty's mother know about Shiloh? (Marty's been saving food, even food that he doesn't like. He goes out every night.)



5. How can you lie by what you don't say? (If you omit information, people will assume you don't know it; you deliberately mislead them.)

6. How might Judd's treatment of his dogs be related to his childhood? (He was beaten badly as a child and might think that's acceptable behavior.)

7. Why does Mr. Wallace assume Marty wants food for his family? (He doesn't know about Shiloh. He probably does know that the family has little money. It's probably not uncommon for people in the area to fall on hard times.)

8. Why does Ma tell Marty not to ever run away from a problem? (Problems don't go away You have to face them and try to work them out.)

9. Why is Marty willing to give Shiloh away? (He thinks he can't keep him, but he'd rather give him to a stranger than to Judd who will mistreat him.)

10. Why does Dad say to Marty: “You saying so don't make it true.”? (Marty has already lied to him; he no longer trusts him.)



11. How does the author show that Marty has changed? (He stands up to his father and other adults. He doesn't accept statements that don't make sense. He is developing a sense of values.) After discussing this question, you might duplicate and pass out the reproducible on page 15 for students to complete.



12. Marty's father says, “I want you to do what's right.” What do you think is the right thing for Marty to do? Why?




1. Why does Doc Murphy bring Shiloh home so soon? (He doesn't want his patients to see the dog.)

2. When Shiloh first comes home, why does it seem as if he “is there and he's not”? (Everyone pays attention to him, but Ma and Pa don't speak about him.)

3. Why does Dad make Marty tell Judd what happened? (It's Marty's story. He's responsible for what happened.)



4. Why does Marty feel better after he tells David about Shiloh? (David helps him clean the pen; it's a relief not to have such a secret from his friend.)

5. Why does Marty feel taller than he really is when he confronts Judd? (He feels empowered by his determination.)

6. Why does Marty have Judd right where he wants him? (He can blackmail him about the deer.)

7. Why does Marty think he's no better than Judd? (He's willing to look the other way—not tell about the deer—to get what he wants.)

8. When they make their deal, why does Judd trust Marty? (He knows Marty wants Shiloh. He senses that Marty is honorable.)



9. Suspense: How does the author keep the story suspenseful right up until the very end? (It isn't clear if Judd will honor the bargain he made with Marty.)



10. How do you feel about the deal Judd makes with Marty? Is it fair or not? Why?

11. Should Marty have told his father about the deer? Why or why not?