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Steal Away Home

Steal Away Home

For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
  • 3awards
When twelve-year-old Dana Shannon starts to strip away wallpaper in her family's old house, she's unprepared for the surprise that awaits her. A hidden room -- containing a human skeleton! How did such a thing get there? And why was the tiny room sealed up?
With the help of a diary found in the room, Dana learns her house was once a station on the Underground Railroad. The young woman whose remains Dana discovered was Lizbet Charles, a conductor and former slave. As the scene shifts between Dana's world and 1856, the story of the families that lived in the house unfolds. But as pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, one haunting question remains -- why did Lizbet Charles die?
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  • Aladdin | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689824357 | 
  • January 1999 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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Reading Group Guide

Teaching Guide
About the Book
When Dana Shannon discovers a full skeleton, sealed away in a little hidden room in the nineteenth century house her family is restoring, she stumbles onto a mystery that draws her deep into the past. The old bones date back to just before the Civil War, when pro- and anti-slavery factions transformed the territory of Kansas into the battleground known as Bleeding Kansas. Told in chapters that alternate between Dana's detective work in the 1990s and the story of James Weaver and his anti-slavery Quaker family in 1856, Steal Away Home interweaves a contemporary suspense story with an engrossing historical drama. Chosen a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, "this skillfully rendered book," as The Horn Book observed, "will appeal to a wide audience and serve beautifully for a variety of teaching purposes."
Discussion Topics
  • In 1856, James Weaver's life is changed forever when he meets Lizbet Charles, a one-time slave who now helps others find freedom via the Underground Railroad. More than one hundred years later, how does Lizbet also change the life of Dana Shannon?
  • Dana's friend Ahn is a refugee from Vietnam, a country that suffered through an especially long and devastating war. Compare Alm's twentieth-century experience to those of Lizbet Charles's back in the nineteenth-century. What are the important similarities? What are the important differences?
  • As Dana e
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About the Author

Lois Ruby

Lois Ruby is the author of several novels, including Steal Away Home, which was named an IRA Young Adults' Choice and a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC). Before she turned to writing, she was a young adult librarian for the Dallas Public Library. In her spare time she serves on the board of Inter-Faith Inn, a homeless shelter in Wichita, Kansas, and sometimes teaches minicourses to seventh and eighth graders. “The place I feel most comfortable,” she says, “is among teenagers, laughing.” The mother of three sons, she lives in Wichita with her husband, Thomas.

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