One Came Home

Written By: Amy Timberlake 

For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about One Came Home and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!

Spoiler Alert! The summary below contains spoilers about the plot that your child might not want to read until after finishing the book.


It's 1871 in Placis, Wisconsin and Georgie Burkhardt is at her older sister's funeral. The only problem is that she isn't entirely sure that it is actually Agatha's body that the sheriff claims to have found. Georgie is so convinced that her sister isn't dead that she sets off to prove it herself, following a group of pigeoners that she believes Agatha is traveling with. Despite her sharp shooting and candid personality, Georgie is not prepared for what lies in store for her on her journey but she is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. She comes to discover that her sister is alive and studying at a university in Madison, having left Placid quietly due to her grief over her failed engagement and her desire to get out of the town quickly. After all of the trouble that was caused by Agatha's running away, Georgie is still able to forgive her, glad that Agatha was able to find her way.

Discussion Questions

  1. What genre do you think One Came Home falls under? Adventure? Horror? Crime Fiction?
  2. What did you like/not like about the book? Why?
  3. Why was Georgie so certain that it wasn’t her sister’s body that was found?
  4. How did the pigeon nesting impact Georgie’s family?
  5. Who did Georgie meet on her journey to find her sister?
  6. Which character would you like to be friends with? What would you do with him/her?
  7. How did the story end? Do you think it was a happy ending?  Why or why not?
  8. The migratory patterns of the passenger pigeons are of great importance to this story. Discover more on passenger pigeons and how they back extinct using resources like Paw Nation and Bagheera.
  9. One Came Home portrays these events from the perspective of Georgie, but how would the story differ if it were told from the point of view of her sister, Agatha? In Agatha’s voice, have your child write a diary entry about the day the pigeons came as well as her departure from Placid. Let your child expand his/her imagination by stepping into Agatha’s shoes and seeing the story from her perspective! Below are some diary sentence starters that you can use to get the creative juices flowing. Consider making pages that fit inside the book neatly so that your child can add the pages to the book and reread them later.


Dear Diary,

Today, I …

I am feeling…

I wish that…

________ understands best because...

<<Insert Diary Doodles!>>


Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!