Adaline Falling Star Discussion Guide
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
About the Book
In Adaline Falling Star, Mary Pope Osborne imagines the story of Kit Carson's daughter. Kit Carson's daughter, Adaline Falling Star, is eleven. Her mother has died and her father has left her with relatives in St. Louis so that he can join an expedition. Adaline's cousins think that she'll always be a "savage" because of her mother's Arapaho Indian blood. Even though they mistreat her, Adaline continues to take comfort in her father's word that he will come back to get her. But, when the other members of the expedition, including the famous pathfinder John C. Fremont, return to St. Louis, her father isn't with them. He is nowhere to be found. Believing that her father has broken his word, Adaline cuts herself with a knife. Luckily, she does not succeed in killing herself. But, she does succeed in making her relatives believe that she is beyond hope. They decide to put her in an asylum. She decides to run.
Adaline tries to head back the way she and her father came — along the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. On her way, though, she loses hope. Just as she's considering giving up, she happens to see a mongrel dog. Although her father has warned her never to travel with dogs, Adaline can't help but find this dog useful. First, the dog spots a canoe perfect for their trip. Then he stays with her when she is sick with a fever. Despite the fact that she has grown very fond of the dog, Adaline decides she has to leave him when she gets work on a river boat. But, after a day she decides to go back to find the dog. When she looks out over the side of the boat, there he is! She jumps in the river to join him just as the river boat explodes with fire. Once again, the dog has saved her. Very soon after she is saved by the dog, she finds that her father is there with her. He had intended to get her all along. She and her father and the beloved dog decide to make a new life for themselves in New Mexico.
Before Reading the Book
Explain to students that Kit Carson, the father of the heroine in this story, was a famous scout in the Old West. Discuss with students what life was like in those times for Indians like the Arapaho, and for white settlers in the area. Talk about relations between the two groups. Students might want to research the Arapaho to find out more about how they lived and what they believed.
After students finish reading the book, lead a discussion using questions such as these:
- Do you think that there is an unbridgeable gap between the science of the white folk and the spiritual beliefs of the Arapaho? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Caddie is kind to Adaline Falling Star? How can Caddie understand her so well when Adaline won't talk?
- Why does Adaline worry about what she learns in her book about the stars and planets? Where does she picture her mother being?
- Why is Lilly so afraid of Adaline? Does Adaline give her any reason to be scared?
- Adaline longs to be like the pathfinder John Fremont. How do you think she feels when she actually encounters him?
- How does Adaline's love for the mongrel dog save her?