The Year Of Miss Agnes

The Year Of Miss Agnes

For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
A year they'll never forget

Ten-year-old Frederika (Fred for short) doesn't have much faith that the new teacher in town will last very long. After all, they never do. Most teachers who come to their one-room schoolhouse in remote, Alaska leave at the first smell of fish, claiming that life there is just too hard.

But Miss Agnes is different -- she doesn't get frustrated with her students, and she throws away old textbooks and reads Robin Hood instead! For the first time, Fred and her classmates begin to enjoy their lessons and learn to read and write -- but will Miss Agnes be like all the rest and leave as quickly as she came?
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  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 128 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439131794 | 
  • August 2008 | 
  • Grades 4 - 6 | 
  • Lexile 790L
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"What will happen now?" I asked Mamma as we watched the plane take the teacher away.

"Maybe no more school." Mamma twitched her shoulder a little to show she didn't care. Mamma never went to school much, just a few months here and there when her family wasn't trapping or out at spring muskrat camp. She said she hated school when she was little.

The little plane circled our village and then flew low over Andreson's store and waggled its wings at us. That was Sam White, the pilot, saying good-bye to us.

It was Sam White laughing, too. Sam thought nearly everything was funny. He had just landed with the mail... see more

Reading Group Guide

Ten-year-old Fred (Frederika) tells the story of school and village life among the Athabascans in Alaska during 1948 when Miss Agnes arrives to be yet another new teacher.
Schools; Teachers; Alaska; Indians of North America
• Why didn't Fred's mother think school was important?
• Why do you think teachers always wanted to leave the village?
• What are some differences between Fred's school day and yours? Are there any similarities?
• The book is dedicated to Sylvia Ashton-Warner. Research this person.
• Research the Native American groups of Alaska and chart them on a map of Alaska.
• Study the American Sign Language alphabet. Learn signs for words significant to this story.
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Diana Enriquez, Quinton Heights Elementary
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles. see more

About the Author

Kirkpatrick Hill
Photo Credit:

Kirkpatrick Hill

Kirkpatrick Hill lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was an elementary school teacher for more than thirty years, most of that time in the Alaskan "bush." Hill is the mother of six children and the grandmother of eight. Her three earlier books, Toughboy and Sister, Winter Camp, and The Year of Miss Agnes, have all been immensely popular. Her fourth book with McElderry Books, Dancing at the Odinochka, was a Junior Library Guild Selection. Hill's visits to a family member in jail inspired her to write Do Not Pass Go.




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