The Riddle of Penncroft Farm Daily Guiding Questions



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The Riddle of Penncroft Farm

Daily Guiding Questions
Chapter 1:

  • What happened at Valley Forge?

  • Do you think it would be hard to move to a new home at your age?

  • What feelings do you think are going through Lars’s mind about his move to Penncroft farm?

  • What is apple-pieing a bed?

  • What can you tell about Aunt Cass since she like to bamboozle others?

  • What can you tell about Lars attitude about his move?

  • Why does Lars’s family need to discuss the will with Aunt Cass? Do you think it is important to make sure all family members know about a will?

  • What types of things do you think Penncroft farm has experienced considering it has been around since 1760?

  • What does Lars see in the window of his new bedroom? Why does this possibly give him a little startle?

  • Describe Penncroft Farm.

  • How is Lars bamboozled by Aunt Cass?

  • How do you think Aunt Cass and Lars will get along while he is staying at Penncroft Farm?

Chapter 2:



  • Describe the picture of George Hargreaves.

  • Why don’t you think Lars thought the twitch in Aunt Cass’s lips wasn’t solemn at all? What do you think she is up to?

  • Why were the beds shorter in the 1770’s? How are they different from today?

  • Why does Aunt Cass call the American revolution more of the first American civil war?

  • What happened to the portrait Aunt Cass originally had? Why did she give it away?

  • What are settles?

  • Why does Aunt Cass call Lars a punster? Can you make your own pun?

  • What don’t you think Lars is interested in the tour Aunt Cass is giving?

  • How do you think Lars feels when he finds out there is a kid living nearby named Pat?

  • Why do you think Aunt Cass’s face crinkled in an impish smile when she mentioned that Lars and Pat could maybe be best friends?

  • Why would Aunt Cass’s feelings towards Lars make him a bit jealous? What can he do to change the feelings?

  • What are pacifists? How would they have felt during the American Revolution?

  • How did Lars family end up with Penncroft farm and not the Hargreaveses?

  • How would people benefit if Aunt Cass turned Penncroft Farm into a museum?

  • How is it different living in the city compared to the country?

  • What emotions was Lars feeling as he was going downhill in the wagon?

  • How did the wagon stop? What do you suspect happened?

  • Can panic really change your perception on things?

Chapter 3:



  • Why is Lars still pondering over what happened in the wagon? How would you have felt if you were in the same situation?

  • How is Lars feeling about starting a new school?

  • How do you think Lars feeling being new in school and the only one not wearing a Halloween costume?

  • Why did Lars blurt out that only kindergarteners wear costumes in Minnesota? How do you think it makes the other students perceive him?

  • What is a flyover country?

  • Why do you think Lars brother gets to stay in Minnesota? Do you think it is fair to Lars?

  • Describe the character Edward Owens.

  • What is Colonial Day? How do you think Lars feel about it?

  • What types of things in history do you think Lars will learn about now that he is in Pennsylvania? How will this benefit him?

  • Why does Lars react to Pat by saying she is a girl?

  • What impression does Pat get of Lars the first day she meets him?

  • Do you think Lars intended to be so hurtful to Pat? Why?

  • Why would Eddie need to tell his dad about Lars moving to Penncroft Farm?

  • Describe the boy Lars encounters on the covered bridge? What is so different about him?

  • Why does the boy call Lars ignorant and how do you think he knows him?

  • Describe the games Lars plays with the boy.

  • Where do you think Lars’s new friend went to?

  • Why is Lars so drawn to this mystery boy, but he pays no mind to Pat?

Chapter 4:



  • Why does Lars’s mom think he has an imaginary friend?

  • Why didn’t Lars tell him mom about how his first day of school was a disaster?

  • What does Aunt Cass mean when she says, “Yees, perhaps I do, but I wouldn’t exactly say he lives around here?”

  • The boy seems to mention that he did things when he was around Lars’s age, but he appears to now be Lars’s age? What do you think about that?

  • How does Geordie react to Lars’s handshake? Why does this seem odd?

  • What is a riddle?

  • What types of chores did Geordie have to do at home?

  • Why does Lars now feel like he is more lucky to be at Penncroft Farm, whereas Peter isn’t as lucky to be in Minnesota?

  • What happened to Geordie’s brother?

  • Why did Lars’s knees buckle when he realized Geordie was talking about the American Revolution in 1777?

  • What side was Geordie’s father on during the revolution? Why did he take this side?

  • What caused Will, Geordie’s brother, to join the revolution?

  • How did Will joining the Patriots almost cause a split in his family? Do you think he should have taken the side of his father?

  • Even though Lars thinks someone is playing a trick on him by sending Geordie, why does he still think that Geordie is so believable?

  • What is a phantasm?

  • Why doesn’t Geordie like the term ‘ghost’? Why does he insist that he is just hanging out not haunting anything?

  • How did they turn the barn raising into a fun event? Would you like to do work in this way?

  • Why does Lars want to stand in front of Geordie when his father enters the barn? Do you think his father can see Geordie too?

  • Why has Lars’s mood changed so abruptly? What do you think he thinks of Penncroft Farm now?

Chapter 5:



  • Why isn’t Lars too enthusiastic about having Pat around?

  • Why is Lars happy that Pat has never met Geordie?

  • Why does Lars insist on saying that she didn’t do too shabby as a girl skipping rocks? Why wouldn’t he just say she did good regardless of her gender?

  • Why does Pat think Lars has a chip on his shoulder?

  • What does Aunt Cass mean when she says, “Lars would certainly have a better time with Patience than with grown-ups?”

  • Why does Lars’s father want him to dress up for Halloween? Do you think it is important for him to do it for Aunt Cass?

  • Do you think Aunt Cass is right when she ways that it’s human nature to forget the bad times, gloss them over, shine them up, and put them all neat and clean in history books?

  • Why don’t history books tell about the misfortune too, why do they seem to focus only on the positive things?

  • Why should Aunt Cass tell someone where her will is?

  • What does Aunt Cass mean when she refers to someone finding her will, “But someone with the right spirit could find it?”

  • Why doesn’t Aunt Cass like the idea about the museum?

  • What happened to Aunt Cass?

  • How do you think Lars is feeling about the whole situation?

  • What do you think Aunt Cass meant by her message to Lars?

  • Why does Lars feel as though he was bamboozled again by Aunt Cass?

Chapter 6:



  • Why does Lars feel as though he is stuck in a nightmare?

  • How will school keep Lars occupied?

  • Why doesn’t Lars want to talk to Pat about what happened with Aunt Cass? Do you think he is handling the situation right?

  • Why does Pat slap Eddie?

  • Describe Eddie’s obnoxious behavior? How should Lars handle the situation?

  • How can Lars be aching Aunt Cass’s death, but furious with Eddie at the same time?

  • How does the thought of Geordie give Lars a spurt of self-confidence?

  • Would you believe Lars if he told you he was friends with a shade? Why?

  • Why is Lars embarrassed to know about the husking bee?

  • How is, “They had what you might call an amazing time,” considered a pun when Lars is talking about the labyrinth?

  • Describe your feelings towards Eddie? Why do you think he likes to boast so much?

  • Why again does Eddie need to run and tell his dad about Aunt’s Cass’s death?

  • What do you think is going through Lars’s mind at the meetinghouse?

  • How is each person’s stories about Aunt Cass like a puzzle to put together?

  • Why do you think Lars ultimately got up to say something about Aunt Cass? What do you think Aunt Cass would have thought about his speech?

  • Why doesn’t Pat want anyone to know that her real name is Patience?

  • Now what do you think about Aunt Cass saying someone can find her will with the right spirit?

  • What do you think will happen with the will?

Chapter 7:



  • Why does Lars feel so confused while he is looking over his history materials? Have you ever felt overwhelmed like this?

  • What did Lars discover in his bedroom? Why was he so incredibly disappointed?

  • Describe the uniforms Patriot soldiers wore.

  • Why did Washington want his soldiers to wear leather hunting shirts as part of their uniform?

  • Why do you think it was important for soldiers to all appear uniform?

  • Why did Geordie’s father become less angry, but more sad with Will leaving to join the Patriot forces?

  • What is the Continental Congress and what laws did they place on the colonies?

  • How does the decreed on apples affect Geordie’s family?

  • What gift had father given Geordie when he was young and why did his mother protest it?

  • What gift had father given Will and what was inscribed on it?

  • Why does father forbid Geordie to mention Will’s name again? Do you think he is doing the right thing?

  • Do you think Geordie will be safe from harm even though he is on the side of the British army?

  • Why is Geordie filled with dismay when he sees the Continentals in Welsh’s tavern?

  • What do you think is going through Geordie’s mind when he hears the first shouts and sounds of marching feet at Welsh’s tavern?

  • Why is Geordie happy that his horses are slow as molasses?

  • Describe Geordie’s ride home from the tavern.

  • How do you think Geordie’s father will react when he finds out he has helped the Continentals?

  • Why does Geordie decide to help the Continentals?

Chapter 8:



  • Why can’t Geordie and Cheyney take the wagon to Washington’s headquarters?

  • Why do many people look at George Washington as a god, but Geordie’s father sees him as the devil?

  • Why doesn’t Washington trust what Cheyney is saying?

  • Why do you think Geordie bursts into tears after trying to explain to Washington that many British troops are going to attack?

  • How did Geordie’s tears convince Washington that they were telling the truth?

  • What job does Washington offer to Geordie? What do you think is going through his mind when he hears this?

  • Why does Geordie both fear and hope that he can be Washington’s guide to Birmingham Road?

  • Why would the horses bolting away be a blessing for Geordie?

  • What does Geordie see when his horses are leading him to Birmingham Road and the battle?

  • How does Geordie know where to find Will?

  • Describe Will’s injury. How does Geordie help him?

  • What do you think Geordie is feeling when he sees the British soldier standing over him as he is trying to pull Will to safety?

  • Why do you think the British soldier helped Geordie? Would you have done the same?

  • Why does Geordie throw down the grenadier his father had given him?

  • Why do you think Geordie’s mom wants to hide Will in Grampa’s Folly?

  • Describe the results of the Brandywine battle.

  • Why do you think Geordie and his mother care about the British capture of Philadelphia? Why is father so excited about it?

Chapter 9:



  • Why do you think Lars asks Geordie about the secret room in the barn where they had hidden Will?

  • What was the purpose of Edward Owens stopping by Penncroft Farm?

  • Why is Lars’s whole family shocked by Edward Owens announcement?

  • Why do you think the field trip to Brandywine is so thrilling for Lars?

  • Why weren’t people able to tell a man’s allegiance to the war by his accent alone during the Revolutionary War time period?

  • Do you think it is polite for Lars to be disagreeing with the teacher? Does he have any proof to back up his thoughts?

  • Is Eddie Owens right in stating that the boy who warned Washington was his ancestor? How do you know?

  • Why can’t Lars set Eddie Owens straight and give him the correct information?

  • What had Eddie Owens’s family member actually tell George Washington? What would Eddie think if he knew this information?

  • What was the toy soldier souvenir Lars sees in the museum? What do you think is running through his mind after seeing it?

  • Why is Lars so anxious to get back to Penncroft farm?

  • What do you think Lars feels about moving to Pennsylvania now?

Chapter 10:



  • Do you think it is right for Geordie and his mother to lie to father about Will being home? Why or why not?

  • Why does Will ultimately decide to go back to the war? Do you think he is making the right decision?

  • What does the cockade mean to Geordie when he receives it from Will?

  • Describe American’s victory at Saratoga.

  • Do you think the news of the American victory at Saratoga would have caused Will to not want to leave? Why?

  • Why does Geordie need to take fruit and cider to the City Tavern? What do you think he will experience along the way?

  • What does father mean when he says to mother, “Geordie is my only son?”

  • Describe what Geordie sees and feels in Philadelphia.

  • What do you think Geordie is feeling about war after seeing what happened to the beautiful city of Philadelphia?

  • Why are people still continuing to go about their daily business even though it appears Philadelphia has been almost destroyed?

  • How has the Pennsylvania State House changed?

  • Why was the Liberty Bell moved to Allentown?

  • What surprises you about Will being at the tavern and why is he going by an alias name?

  • What is Will’s new role in the army? What dangers does this pose for him?

  • What does Will ask Geordie to do for him? How do you think Geordie should respond?

  • Why does Geordie ultimately decide to help Will even though he knows that his father would be against his decision? Did he make the right move?

  • What is the password Will uses with Sandy? What significance does this have to Will?

  • What is Geordie’s first impression of Sandy? It is right to judge a book by it’s cover?

  • Why is Geordie so jealous of Sandy even though he thought he wasn’t going to be much help because of his size earlier?

  • What does George Washington mean when he speaks to Geordie, “It takes strength to defy both king and father?”

  • What finally convinces Geordie to be friends with Sandy?

Chapter 11:



  • What causes Lars to be so excited about taking a trip to Philadelphia?

  • How has meeting Geordie changed Lars?

  • Why did spirits have to do more with Lars’s attitude than his parents would ever know?

  • Describe what Lars is feeling as he explores Philadelphia.

  • Why are Lars’s parents so proud of him?

  • Why did Edward Owens file a lawsuit?

  • What will happen if Lars and his family are unable to find the will? Do you think they will find it and how?

  • What similarity does Geordie have with Will now he that he is sick?

Chapter 12:



  • Why didn’t Geordie tell his mother that Will was a spy?

  • What happened at White Marsh and why is Geordie so interested in it?

  • What reasons cause Washington and his men to go to Valley Forge?

  • Why do you think the Continental Congress’s paper money is hardly worth anything, but people are still using it?

  • What happened to Geordie’s father?

  • What is leeching?

  • What has happened to Will at Valley Forge?

  • What thoughts do you think are racing through Geordie’s mind now knowing that his father and brother are both ill?

  • Why is it perhaps a blessing that father is ill and he doesn’t know where Geordie is going? Do you think he would have approved of Geordie going to help Will if he wasn’t sick? Why?

  • Describe the scene at the Valley Creek American camp.

  • Why does Geordie wish his father could see the men at camp? Would it change his mind about the Continentals?

  • Why does Geordie need to sleep by his horse, Buttercup?

  • What new information does Ned Owens know about General Conway?

  • What do the soldiers feel towards the Owens family? Why?

  • What does it say about Geordie to help feed the rest of the sick men?

Chapter 13:



  • Describe Will’s condition.

  • Why do you think the men insist on making jokes about what they look like in this time of war?

  • Describe the men’s eating conditions at camp.

  • Why do you think Sandy is with Lady Washington and helping her with winding wool?

  • Describe the Grand Parade.

  • Do you think the men deserved to be punished through a Grand Parade if they were not obeying orders? Why?

  • Why does Baron William Augustus Henry von Steuben try to teach the men easy drills to use in war? Why is this such an important element of war?

  • Why do you think the men continue to stick together to fight for independence even in such dire circumstances?

  • Geordie has decided to display the cockade Will gave him, why now?

  • Why does Will tell Geordie he needs to go home? Do you think he is truly needed more at home rather than with Will?

  • How had father’s brush with death mellowed his anger into sorrow?

  • Why is Geordie so surprised by Sandy’s delicate handwriting? What do you gather from this?

  • What did Sandy have to say in his letter to Geordie?

  • What causes Lars to realize that his Penicillin wasn’t so bad after all?

Chapter 14:



  • Lars’s father tells him that he has grown up so much since they arrived at Penncroft farm, why does he feel this way?

  • Do you think Lars should tell Pat about Geordie? Why?

  • How is Pat and Lars’s ride similar to Geordie and Sandy?

  • What battle actually took place at Valley Forge?

  • What was phony about Von Stueben?

  • Describe what Pat and Lars see at Valley Forge.

  • What is Mr. Owens doing at Valley Forge? Do you think it is right for him to take the drum back?

  • What does Lars learn about Sandy’s identity?

  • How does Pat help Lars to discover something about the barn and possibly the missing will?

  • What does Lars realize about Aunt Cass’s last words to him?

  • What do you think is going through Lars’s mind when he discovers the secret room?

  • Who did Aunt Cass leave Penncroft farm to and why?

  • What do you think Aunt Cass meant in her will when she wrote, “Edward Owens IX may use the memoirs for historic documentation if e feels the world is ready for an accurate account of his ancestors?” What is inaccurate about his current thoughts about his ancestors?

Chapter 15:



  • Describe Benedict Arnold’s place in the war.

  • Describe what happened to Geordie’s father. Why didn’t he care to ask about Will even though possibly deep down he wanted to?

  • Why didn’t Geordie ever go off and fight for the Continental Army?

  • Why do soldiers approach Geordie’s house and wonder about no lights being on to celebrate victory?

  • What do the soldiers do with Geordie’s barn? Why do they do this? Is this the proper way to fight a war?

  • Describe Ned Owens reaction to what Geordie has to say.

  • Will arrives to say his piece about the burning barn, what does this tell you about his character?

  • What was so familiar about the young lady arriving with Will?

  • Why did Sandy have to act as a boy during the war? Do you think this was the right thing to do?

  • Why doesn’t Geordie feel as though Sandy could ever be a sister to him?

  • What finally convinces Laban to make peace with his own family?

  • Why does Geordie decide to come to Lars as a young shade? Do you think this was the right thing to do?

  • Why does Geordie decide it is his time to go?

  • What does Lars decide to create in his barn? Why do you think he decides to do this?

  • Why does Lars decide to go to Eddie and make him feel better about his ancestors? What does this tell you about Lars?

  • Why did Geordie and Sandy come back to the colonial dance?

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