Teaching Tools for the Classroom

Man vs Society
Man vs Man



Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd  

Johanna Leonberger, or Ay-Ti-Podle, or the Cicada

Voyages and Travels Fiction 

Widowers Fiction 

Orphans Fiction 

Kiowa Indians Fiction

United States History 19th Century Fiction

Historical Fiction

1. What does Johanna overturn, in her resistance to being washed? 
     (a) An oil lamp
     (b) A desk
     (c) A small stove
     (d) The wash tub

2. In Chapter 4, what does Johanna expect to have to do? 
     (a) Submit to this new life
     (b) Kill her captors
     (c) Get revenge for her abduction
     (d) Starve herself to death

3. Why does Captain Kidd decline Doris’ offer to leave Johanna with her and Simon? 
     (a) He says that he has taken money to return her
     (b) He says that he is planning to keep her himself
     (c) Simon gets Doris to withdraw the offer
     (d) Johanna refuses to allow it

4. How much does Captain Kidd offer Mrs. Gannet, for her to come and stay with Johanna overnight? 
     (a) Five dollars
     (b) Ten dollars 
     (c) Fifty cents
     (d) One dollar

5. What does Captain Kidd end his readings in Chapter 7 with? 
     (a) Curiosities and inventions
     (b) Human interest pieces
     (c) Hard news
     (d) Far-off news

6. What is Simon Boudlin’s profession? 
     (a) Blacksmith 
     (b) Fiddler
     (c) Soldier
     (d) Printer

7. How does Captain Kidd characterize white people’s faces? 
     (a) Disingenuous and two-faced
     (b) Sensitive and over-responsive
     (c) Duplicitous and hidden
     (d) Open and unguarded

8. What does Captain Kidd see on Johanna’s face when he meets her? 
     (a) Contempt
     (b) Panic
     (c) Dread
     (d) Warmth

9. What did Sergeant Kidd enjoy about being a messenger? 
     (a) Being vital to the victories. 
     (b) Not knowing what was in the messages. 
     (c) Watching people’s faces when they saw what he brought. 
     (d) Being mostly free from army life.

10. How does the sign at Thurber’s print shop in Dallas describe the grounds of the office? 
     (a) Sacred ground
     (b) Civilized land
     (c) Wilderness
     (d) No man’s land

11. How much money does Captain Kidd make at the Dallas reading? 
     (a) $50
     (b) $30
     (c) $40
     (d) $20

12. What does the narrator say the Kiowa prided themselves on? 
     (a) Their agricultural accomplishments
     (b) Their fierceness in battle
     (c) Their ability to live without things
     (d) Their compliance with white men’s laws

13. What is Johanna doing in the hotel room when Captain Kidd gets back with Mrs. Gannet in Chapter 9? 
     (a) Playing with her doll
     (b) Sleeping
     (c) Chanting
     (d) Sitting still, rocking

14. What was Jefferson Kyle Kidd’s wife Maria Luisa Betancourt y Real doing when he first saw her? 
     (a) Dancing at a ball
     (b) Riding in a carriage
     (c) Running after the milk man
     (d) Shopping in the plaza

15. What is Captain Kidd thinking about as he and Almay negotiate about Johanna? 
     (a) Where to hide
     (b) How fast the Caddos can travel
     (c) Whether he can take refuge with friends
     (d) How much ammunition he has

SOURCE:  Book Rags

This Study Guide consists of approximately 65 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of News of the World.

Our Reading Guide for News of the World by Paulette Jiles includes Book Club Discussion Questions, Book Reviews, Plot Summary-Synopsis and Author Bio.

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality, in-depth study guides for a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles.  Offering an ideal mix of summary and analysis, all SuperSummary study guides feature detailed chapter summaries and critical analysis of major characters, themes, symbols/motifs, important quotations, and essay topics. 

Summary and reviews of News of the World by Paulette Jiles, plus links to a book excerpt from News of the World and author biography of Paulette Jiles.

This online (paid-one week free trial) resource provides a digital copies of historical newspapers similar to those which Capt. Kidd may have read in his travels across Texas.

Post-Civil War Texas
Captain Kidd takes care to avoid the hot-button issues plaguing post-Civil War Texas by not reading from local newspapers. Learn more about this era from this article from the Texas State Historical Association.

The Kiowa
Learn more about the Southern Plains tribe from which Johanna Leonberger was recovered after four years of captivity.

George Catlin
George Catlin (July 26, 1796 - December 23, 1872) was an American painter, author, and traveler who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West. Claiming his interest in America's 'vanishing race' was sparked by a visiting American.

About Texas
Paulette Jiles' News of the World takes place in late 19th century Texas. Much of the state's land was untamed and rugged, but in this time between the end of the Reconstruction and the beginning of the Progressive Era, Texas changed and grew, as did much of the western frontier and the New South.

1870 Texas Almanac
The Texas Almanac for 1870, and Emigrant's Guide to Texas covers general topics about the state of Texas including statistics for individual counties, agriculture, expenditures, and weather, as well as discussions of legal and social issues of the time.

Casting News of the World
Who would you cast for a cinematic version of this book? What Hollywood actors would you cast? Who would you cast from among the personalities in your school?

What do you think Jiles is like as a person? What would your life be like if you emulated her? What can you tell of her as a role model? What would you like to know about her?

“News of the World” — The Musical
Compose songs and choreograph dances for a musical version of the book.

If you were the sound designer for the movie version of this book, what songs would you use?

Short Story
Write a short story in which this book appears.

Bumper Stickers
Brainstorm bumper stickers that capture the meaning of the book in a few words.

Hot of the Presses!
It’s your turn to be the edi­tor of your very own newspaper! Write your own head­line, illustrate an image to match your story and don’t forget to write your byline in the space provided below. 

SOURCE:  Book Rags

Essay Topic 1
Write a character sketch of the author based on her style and content. What can we tell about her, based on the choices she makes in terms of description, characterization and plot? What values does she hold dear? What are her hopes and fears? What kind of person do you think she is? Anchor your sketch in passages in the book.

Essay Topic 2
What is missing from this book? What should have been covered or presented that was not? What is the effect of this absence? Describe an element that ought to have been covered, and explain why it would have made the book stronger.

Essay Topic 3
Where is the climax of this book? Are there different climaxes? What questions does each climax resolve? What questions does each climax leave unanswered? How does the book regulate the tension between tense periods and climaxes?      

SOURCE:  Book Rags

DawnlandThe Dawnland Viewer’s Guide is written for viewers who want to learn more about the issues behind the film, Dawnland. Community screening hosts, neighborhood groups, book clubs, faith organizations, librarians, and people who love documentary film will find helpful information and resources to enrich their viewing. 

Those who want to go deeper can download the Dawnland Teacher’s Guide that includes five inquiries: history of Indigenous Peoples in New England (published in 2018); Native families and the Indian Child Welfare Act; inherited resilience and historical and intergenerational trauma; truth and reconciliation commissions; and genocide and resistance (expected publication: 2019).


The Civil War Era was one of the most divisive and heart-rending in our nation's history. For 18-yearold Adair Colley it brought about intense personal change as well. Although the Colley family was neutral on the issues of secession and slavery, many men from their area in Missouri Ozarks had joined the Confederate army. One day in November 1864 the Union Militia swept in on their mission to rout Confederate sympathizers. They set the Colley homestead on fire, and arrested Adair's father, a mild mannered justice of the peace. Adair and her two younger sisters gathered together what they could and set off to find shelter. Along the way, however, Adair herself is arrested on charges of "enemy collaboration" and sent to a women's prison in St. Louis. There she meets a Union major, William Neumann, who is to be her interrogator, and the two fall in love. Before he is sent back to the front, Neumann helps Adair plan an escape and, not long after he leaves, she makes her break. Weakened and alone, Adair must now travel through dangerous territory as she makes her way home -- not knowing who or what she will find there.

Questions for Discussion

  1. The first chapter of the book paints the Civil War in the Ozarks with a very broad brush. It is a short chapter, and yet the emotional tone of the chapter shifts between the beginning and the end. How does the tone change, and what techniques does the author use to change it? What is the tone in the beginning of the chapter; what is it at the end of the chapter?
  2. The scope of the novel is larger than Adair's personal relationships with her family and the Major. There are battle scenes and long journeys, depictions of the city of St. Louis and its wartime waterfront. What technical choices does the author make to distinguish the "larger picture" scenes from the narratives that deal exclusively with personal relationships?
  3. Although Enemy Women is a novel, many of the historical events it describes are real, and the author includes snippets from letters, journals, newspapers, and military dispatches at the beginning of each chapter. Do you like this technique of mixing the actual with the imagined? How does it affect your reading and/or enjoyment of the narrative? Is there a thread or ongoing story unfolding through the historical quotes themselves?
  4. Do you think the author has succeeded at portraying 19th century personalities and attitudes through her characters? Or do you feel she has simply transposed late 20th century attitudes and behavior onto the Civil War era? What's the difference?
  5. The author goes against convention by not using quotation marks throughout the book. How did this unusual technique make you feel? Were you immediately comfortable, or did it take you a while to get used to it? How did it affect your experience of the dialogue?
  6. Adair, and other characters in the book, reveal their inner lives through their actions rather than through devices such as interior monologue or omniscient description or flashbacks to childhood. How is this different from methods usually employed in other novels? Does the author use dialogue to reveal character?
  7. There are no flashbacks in the novel. Where and how does Adair impart some information about the Colley family's life before the war? The author then doubles back and casts doubt on the authenticity of the information. How and why does the author do this?
  8. At one point, the Major says to Adair, "Had you met me at a social gathering, you would probably not even have spoken to me, have ignored him?
  9. Enemy Women has a rich array of minor characters. Among them are Christopher Columbus Jones (the ostler at the Major's boardinghouse), Lt. Brawley, Mr. and Mrs. Greathouse (the couple who argue over the hat), Greasy John, the "botanical steam doctor" in the town of Valles Mines, Jessie Hyssop, Colonel Timothy Reeves (who only appears at the very end of the book, although we hear about him from the beginning). Who are your favorite minor characters, and why?
  10. Rivers play an important role in Enemy Women, both as symbols and as actual barriers. In the 19th century, rivers were far more than symbols; they were dangerous crossing points that had to be negotiated at some risk. What significance is there in the name of each river? Does a change occur to the hero or heroine as he or she meets new tests or enemies on the far side?
  11. Adair changes over the course of the book, from an audacious, outspoken, fearless young woman to someone more inner-directed, cautious, quiet, even frightened. Where are the crucial scenes that demonstrate this transformation?
  12. When Adair finally returns home, she finds a family of traveling players has occupied her empty house. What purpose does this serve in the narrative? Is the author being lightly satiric through the player's explanation of the roles of the "aristocratic girl" and the "saucy girl"?
  13. At the end of the book, when the Major stands before the empty Colley homestead and calls out to Adair, saying he has kept his promise, what famous early 20th century poem do these lines evoke?
  14. In the beginning of the book, Adair seems dubious about marriage, and reluctant to give up her freedom. By the end of the book, though, she has apparently changed her mind. How do we know that Adair has fallen in love with the Major, despite her doubts and confusions?
  15. At the end of the story, Adair is weak, in many ways as faded and ragged as the Confederacy itself. What small, sneaky symbol at the very end gives the reader hope that Adair may recover and flesh out to become her old self again? (Hint, hint: It's up in the sky).

Source:  HarperCollins Publishers