Sons from Afar

For Ages: 12 and up
  • reading group guide
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Will a common cause unite two brothers—or drive them further apart? Find out in the sixth installment of Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman cycle.

If James and Sammy Tillerman agree on anything, it’s that they have nothing in common. Sammy is a tough jock, while James is an intellectual who has begun to question his identity. Then James enlists his brother’s help to find Francis Verricker, who may be the father who deserted them long ago. Through this quest, the brothers learn more about themselves than they thought possible.
Cynthia Voigt writes realistically of human failure—and triumph—in this poignant novel from her acclaimed Tillerman cycle.
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  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442450653 | 
  • July 2012 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Tillerman Cycle
By Cynthia Voigt

About the Books

The four Tillerman children—Dicey, James, Maybeth, and Sammy—have always presented a unified front to the world in spite of the troubles they encounter. Even when they are abandoned by their emotionally ill mother, they find strength in each other as they search desperately for a place to call home. As they build a new life with their grandmother, however, they must learn how to remain a close-knit unit under very different circumstances than those they had previously known. And as they grow up and begin to follow their own separate dreams, it becomes more and more difficult to remember just how important family can be. Cynthia Voigt's moving Tillerman books—which trace journeys both physical and emotional—have garnered many honors, including a Newbery Medal for Dicey’s Song and a Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue.

Discussion Topics

1. When their mother leaves, Dicey takes responsibility for the younger children and becomes, in effect, the head of their family. How does she feel about having this much responsibility? In what ways is she prepared for this change, and in what ways is it apparent that she is still a child herself? How does Dicey’s role within the family change as the children move in with their grandmother and get older?

2. James is con see more

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